by Laura PaskusIs that sound science, or the sound of science being strangled? For years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has pressed the Army Corps of Engineers to operate its Missouri River dams to mimic natural river flows and help endangered fish and birds (HCN, 11/11/02: Corps stands behind status quo). But the Corps has consistently pushed back, and negotiations about the river’s future have been deadlocked. On Oct. 29, Assistant Secretary of the Interior Craig Manson ordered the team of wildlife agency biologists who have been working with the Corps off the case; in a leaked memo, he said it will be replaced with what he called "the SWAT team."
Wyoming rancher Frank Robbins took another stand outside the BLM office in Worland, Wyo. — and this time, he brought some friends (HCN, 9/29/03: Reckless rancher cuts sweet deal in D.C.). Robbins, who has had a long-running battle with the BLM over his illegal grazing practices, was joined by more than 100 ranchers and supporters on Nov. 11. They rallied to protest what one rancher called "abusive bureaucrats running an illegal agenda."
Anti-grazing advocates have finally gotten their foot in the door of Congress (HCN, 5/27/02: Grazing foes float a buyout). Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., and Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., have introduced the "Voluntary Grazing Permit Buyout Act," which would authorize $100 million to buy public-lands ranchers’ grazing permits and permanently retire them. The National Public Lands Grazing Campaign estimates that a buyout of all federal grazing permits would cost $3.1 billion.
And the Interior Department has ordered oil and gas companies to pay Indian tribes $2 million, to make up for underpayments in royalties for drilling on Indian lands during 2001. (HCN, 5/12/03: Missing Interior money: Piles or pennies?). Tribes say the government still owes them as much as $137 billion in unpaid royalties from the last 115 years. © High Country News