14 miles of border fence will soon cut off U.S.-Mexico access south of San Diego (HCN, 10/31/05: Homeland Security gets to bypass environmental laws). In September, Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff used his authority to waive any environmental, labor or safety laws that might hinder the fence’s construction. Environmental groups sued, alleging the waiver was unconstitutional, but Judge Larry A. Burns threw out the case, setting a precedent for similar waivers on security projects.
Help wanted: Manager for national monument. Previous diplomatic experience required. David Hunsaker, who’s run southern Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument since 2001, is stepping down (HCN, 10/13/03: National monument back under attack). Hunsaker plans to move to Washington, D.C., in March to become deputy director of the National Landscape Conservation System, which oversees specially designated BLM lands, such as wilderness study areas. Don Banks, spokesman for the agency’s Utah office, says that managing the monument, which comes under constant fire from unhappy locals and officials in Kane and Garfield counties, "is probably the toughest job in the BLM."
The sky isn’t falling after all. In late September, the Forest Service said a recent court ruling forced it to pull the plug on minor activities like Christmas tree cutting, mushroom picking, and firewood gathering until it could gather public comment on each one (HCN, 10/31/05: Forest Service tries to teach greens a lesson). In October, U.S. District Judge James Singleton said that the agency had blown his order out of proportion, and on Dec. 2, the judge denied the Forest Service’s request to stay his ruling.