The Latest Bounce

 

An emergency spending bill to fund the war on terrorism may bring some relief for the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow (HCN, 7/8/02). The $28.9 billion bill, signed Aug. 2 by President Bush, includes $4 million for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to lease water from Albuquerque to maintain river flows in a crucial stretch of the Rio Grande. That may temporarily stave off a showdown: In April, a federal judge ruled that the Bureau has the authority to use irrigators' water to maintain silvery minnow habitat.

In June, the National Park Service said it's developing a plan that will allow limited snowmobile access to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. Now, the Park Service will extend the deadline for its snowmobile decision by four months (HCN, 4/1/02). A Yellowstone spokeswoman says the agency needs more time to consider 350,000 public comments. The Park Service will release the plan to the public in mid-February and issue a final decision by March 21.

Thomas Slonaker, the head of the federal government's Indian Trust Accounts, says his July 30 resignation was forced. As a federal judge prepares to rule whether Secretary of Interior Gale Norton should be held in contempt of court for the mismanagement of royalties from oil and gas drilling, grazing and logging on Indian lands, Slonaker has been critical of the Interior Department's assertions that it is fixing the problem (HCN, 2/4/02). Slonaker, a Republican, was appointed during the Clinton administration but continued on under Bush.

The Organization of American States' Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ruled that the U.S. has failed to protect Mary and Carrie Dann's civil rights in a long-running feud over the sisters' right to graze cattle on Western Shoshone ancestral lands in Nevada (HCN, 8/5/02). The Bureau of Land Management says that the sisters owe nearly $3 million in trespass fines and interest. The commission's findings are only "recommendations," however: While the U.S. is a member of the Organization of American States, it never signed the organization's American Convention of Human Rights.