Heard Around the West

 

UTAH AND OREGON



The West used to pride itself on a live-and-let-live attitude. No more. In Orem, Utah, on Feb. 11, a judge will begin hearing the case against Betty Perry, 70, who refused to water her lawn and then resisted arrest when a policeman came to cite her for having brown grass. The jury trial is expected to last three days, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. In its "Thumbs Down" column, the paper said that a "70-year-old grandmother will thus become an example of what happens to scofflaws in law-abiding, lawn-worshipping Utah County." But central Oregon may go Utah one better. Susan Taylor, who lives in the upscale town of Bend, faces a potential lawsuit for daring to hang out her clothes to dry. The developer of her '80s-era subdivision, Brooks Resources Corp., says that "anything like trash, garbage, yard clippings - and laundry - (must) be screened from view." The developer suggested hiding the laundry, but when Taylor tried to shield her clothesline with a dyed sheet, reports the Wall Street Journal and NewWest.Net, she was told more acceptable screens were required - "such as planting trees."

MONTANA



Bob Burleson, a Californian who calls himself an evenhanded guy "who goes out of his way to do the right thing," has been cited for violating the federal Clean Water Act. His offense: damming a public waterway, sometimes even draining it completely, to create a swimming hole on his property near Big Timber, Mont., reports The Associated Press. The EPA ordered Burleson, his wife, Traci, and fellow Californian Wayne Herling to restore 1,500 feet of West Bridger Creek. This delighted neighbor Julia LeMaire: "I'm just happy they have to go by the law, that somebody noticed that they can't come in from California and do whatever they want." Her husband added that his biggest concern had been the integrity of his well and "whether they're going to shut down that manmade waterfall."

WASHINGTON



Jenny Madden wears 4-inch heels, gels her black hair into spikes, and yearns to be a rock star. She's also the daughter of a fourth-generation farmer who grows 15 varieties of apples. Madden has a part-time job selling her family's organic fruit - right from the produce aisle of a Whole Foods market in Bellevue, Wash. The 20-year-old, who grew up surrounded by 40 acres of apples right out her front door, is well aware that she belies the stereotype of a farmer's daughter in "overalls and boots with freckles." Yet as soon as she rushes in from voice lessons to set up a cutting board and begin slicing apples for samples, folks flock to see her, reports the Seattle Times. While that day's featured fruit - a cross between the German heirloom and a golden delicious - was undeniably tasty, the buyers are attracted by more than just the fruit, says her father, Paul Madden. "People really want to do something to support family farms," he says. "So when they see a family farmer show up, we're like a dying breed, a museum piece."

COLORADO



Some locals reacted with scorn when they read in the Telluride Watch that the chief executive officer of the Telluride Ski and Golf Co. opposed a pay hike for gondola operators. The free 15-minute service connects Telluride to the higher-altitude community of Mountain Village, one of the 10 richest towns in America. But CEO Dave Riley said the current $12 an hour for gondola operators was already above the national wage of $8.06 an hour for a comparable ski-resort job. He also objected to the traditional $1 an hour bonus for gondola operators who last through the whole ski season. Greg Sparks, town manager of Mountain Village, which operates the gondola, pointed out that some of the workers commute from as far off as Shiprock, N.M., more than two hours away, or Montrose, Colo., about an hour away, with commute times depending on the weather. Readers went for the jugular, with one calling the resort's CEO "delusional." Another suggested that he "wake up ... before they run you out of town. Better yet, just leave."

MONTANA



Female moose are pretty smart. A 10-year study conducted in and around Grand Teton National Park found that during the nine-day window in spring when about 90 percent of pregnant moose give birth, the animals move closer to roads. They do so, reports the Billings Gazette, to avoid traffic-wary grizzlies, which kill 90 percent of moose calves. Researcher Joel Berger, a senior scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society, said the study was striking because it shows that prey species find humans benign, "whereas predators do not because we humans tend to be less kind to predators." Berger, who starts a new job in November as a wildlife professor at the University of Montana, also found that the more bears there were around, the closer expectant mothers crowded to roads. But over time, he predicted, grizzlies might catch on to the moose tactics, "overcoming their fear of the road in favor of a meal of calf."

Betsy Marston is editor of Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News in Paonia, Colorado. Tips of Western oddities are always appreciated and often shared in the column, Heard around the West.