The Latest Bounce

 

Boise, Idaho's efforts to protect open space are gaining ground (HCN, 6/18/01: Surprise! Boise votes for open space). Almost a year after voters approved a $10 million tax to buy open space in the city's foothills, the city announced its first purchase: a 42-acre parcel in Hulls Gulch originally slated for subdivision development. The city has identified a total of 10,200 acres for protection through conservation easements or outright purchase.

The Nevada Bureau of Land Management's campaign against public-lands ranchers who don't pay grazing fees has opened on a second front (HCN, 8/27/01: Showdown on the Nevada range). On May 24, the BLM seized 157 cows from the Western Shoshone Tribe's Te-Moak Livestock Association near Elko. The Association stopped paying grazing fees in 1984, claiming that under the terms of the 1863 Treaty of Ruby Valley, the BLM-managed land is still rightfully theirs. As this issue goes to press, BLM is planning to auction the cattle.

The U.S. Department of Justice is pressing W.R. Grace & Co. for money to tackle the asbestos disaster at its mine in Libby, Mont. (HCN, 4/23/01: Company leaves victims in its dust). On May 22, the DOJ filed a motion to intervene in W.R. Grace's bankruptcy case, claiming that the company illegally spun off its assets to subsidiaries in an attempt to limit its liability for cleanup and health-care costs in Libby. Libby's asbestos mortality rate is about 80 times the national average; by the end of this year, the Environmental Protection Agency will have spent about $57 million on the cleanup.

Republican Rep. Jim Hansen's proposed ATV trail in northern Utah may be named the James V. Hansen Shoshone National Recreation Trail, thanks to an amendment to the bill by Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va. (HCN, 5/27/02: Hansen pops a wheelie). A House Resources Committee staffer says the move is a gesture of bipartisan solidarity to honor the Utah congressman's 22 years in the House, and insists that it was not tongue-in-cheek: "Mr. Rahall just thought it was a nice thing to do." Hansen will retire at the end of this year.