The Latest Bounce
President Bush has nominated Rebecca Watson as assistant secretary of the Interior for land and minerals management, a post from which she'll supervise the BLM and two federal mining agencies (HCN, 1/15/01: Colorado tapped for Interior). Watson previously served on the litigation board of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, whose alumni include Interior Secretary Gale Norton. She also has served as a legal advisor to the Montana Snowmobile Association.
The Mountain States Legal Foundation's challenge to six recently designated national monuments stalled out when a D.C. district court judge dismissed the lawsuit (HCN, 4/23/01: Monuments caught in the crosshairs). The suit challenges the president's authority to create national monuments under the Antiquities Act; the foundation says it plans to appeal
With possible contempt of court charges hanging overhead for her agency's mishandling of the Indian trust fund debacle, Interior Secretary Gale Norton announced the creation of the Bureau of Indian Trust Assets Management (HCN, 1/31/00: Judge rules on Indian money mess). Ross Swimmer, a former assistant secretary of Indian Affairs, will head the new bureau.
The Torres-Martinez Band of Desert Cahuilla Indians are about to see the first of a total of $14.2 million in reparations for lands drowned when the Salton Sea was created in the early 1900s (HCN, 6/19/00: Accidental refuge: Should we save the Salton Sea?). The 2002 Interior Department's appropriations bill, passed on Oct. 17, includes $6 million; the remainder will come from the Justice Department and local water agencies under the provisions of a settlement signed by President Clinton last December.