The Latest Bounce

 

The Colorado Wildlife Commission has approved plans to release up to 180 more lynx in the state beginning this winter, but there's a catch. A state spokesman says the Department of Natural Resources is negotiating with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to give the threatened cats less-protective "experimental, nonessential" status, citing concern "that putting endangered species on the ground could allow federal land managers to restrict traditional uses" like sheep grazing. Since 1999, Colorado has released 96 lynx into the San Juan Mountains; 34 are known to be alive now (HCN, 1/21/02:Will listing hurt the Colorado lynx?).

The fight to bring "natural quiet" back to the Grand Canyon (HCN, 4/23/01:Monuments caught in the crosshairs) took a small step forward in August. In 1987, Congress called for the "substantial restoration of the natural quiet" at Grand Canyon National Park, but air-tour operators have fought for a loud definition of "quiet." The new federal appeals court decision requires the Federal Aviation Administration to consider aircraft noise each day rather than averaging it over the entire year, and forces it to consider the noise of commercial aircraft over the canyon as well.

Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Neal McCaleb says the Bureau of Indian Affairs plans to create a federal Indian Energy and Minerals Office to coordinate energy development on Indian lands (HCN, 3/4/02:Is a coal mine pumping the Hopi dry?). Indian energy issues are currently overseen by three federal agencies. But consolidation is not necessarily a good thing; David Lester of the Council of Energy Resources Tribes warns that "Indian Country's diverse, and one size does not fit all."

Big timber isn't the only thing taking a hit from bark beetles this summer (HCN, 8/19/02:Attack of the bark beetles). In Arizona, which is entering its sixth year of drought, pi–on pine forests are also being overwhelmed by the insects. The Forest Service is still surveying the extent of the problem, but 80 to 90 percent of the pi–on pines in one area near Flagstaff have been killed. Forest Service entomologist Joel McMillin says that even with a return to average precipitation levels next year, "there are enough beetles out there that there'll be a lot of additional mortality."