Keep your eyes peeled for yellow snow on the ski slopes: The Coconino National Forest supervisor has approved the use of treated wastewater for snowmaking at the Arizona Snowbowl ski area (HCN, 2/21/05: Snowmaking on sacred slopes stirs controversy). Resort owners hope to boost profits by keeping the slopes open during dry times. Leaders of the American Indian tribes who hold the San Francisco Peaks sacred oppose the plan, saying that spraying effluent water on the mountains is disrespectful.
California is trying to protect its
biggest trees from the U.S. Forest Service. In March, the
state’s attorney general, Bill Lockyer, filed a complaint
against the agency over its plans to harvest 7.5 million board-feet
of timber from Giant Sequoia National Monument (HCN, 6/9/03: Giant
sequoias could get the ax). President Clinton placed the
monument’s trees — considered the world’s largest
— off-limits to logging in 2000. In the lawsuit, Lockyer
alleges that the Forest Service’s 2003 plan to allow
logging is so "nebulous and confusing that it fails to
qualify as a discernible ‘management plan’ at all."
On March 4, President Bush nominated acting administrator
Steve Johnson to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(HCN, 2/7/05: Bush's second-term shake-ups). Although the
administration's critics have accused it of ignoring, censoring or
otherwise bullying scientists, Bush noted that Johnson will be the
"first professional scientist to lead the EPA."
If confirmed by the Senate, Johnson’s "immediate task is to
work with Congress to pass my Clear Skies Initiative," said Bush.
Environmentalists across the country oppose the initiative, saying
it weakens pollution regulations for refineries and electric power
New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici, R, has another of
the Rio Grande’s endangered species in his sights (HCN,
8/4/03: Truce remains elusive in Rio Grande water fight). The
southwestern willow flycatcher, like the silvery minnow, relies
upon the health of the river for survival. Sen. Domenici has asked
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to delay habitat
protection for the rare bird because it could "affect our
overall effort to save and improve the bosque," or riverside
forest, by hindering efforts to remove non-native, water-sucking
tamarisk from the banks of the river (HCN, 11/10/03: It’s
‘bombs away’ on New Mexico saltcedar).