It reads as predictably as a Harlequin romance: Rejected by the judiciary, the University of Arizona has rushed into the arms of its political allies. On July 31, for the third time in a year, a federal court shut down the university's plan to build its $60 million Large Binocular Telescope outside an area on Mount Graham OK'd by Congress (HCN, 7/24/95).


But Arizona Rep. Jim Kolbe, R, has taken up the university's cause. He is currently drafting legislation that would allow construction to proceed on the university's preferred site. It is some 1,500 feet from the area that Congress exempted from both the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act in a law shepherded through Congress by Arizona Sen. Dennis DeConcini, D, in 1988.


Kolbe insists: "Everyone agrees it's a better location for the (red) squirrels," which are listed as endangered. Telescope opponents counter that the university's motives don't center on the well-being of the squirrels, but rather on the superior optical quality of the preferred site and the money and prestige the Large Binocular Telescope would generate. They registered their displeasure at a demonstration at Kolbe's Tucson office earlier this month.





"If the university cared about the red squirrel - which it doesn't - the only option is to build their telescopes on a less environmentally damaging location off Mount Graham," says long-time opponent Robin Silver.





" Lisa Jones