Heard around the West

  When you buy Nikes, you get more than shoes. You become part of the wise-use movement, or perhaps of your local militia, judging by a Nike ad printed in the November Outside and elsewhere. The ad leads with:


"Boundaries are set by dictators. Created to regulate cattle grazing and employ tollbooth attendants. With no regard for mankind's unalienable rights; among those, to treat the world as it was intended."


If you don't kowtow to dictators and tollbooth attendants, you might want to show that by visiting Nike's headquarters outside Portland, Ore., and treading across the desk of Nike's president. We're sure he'd want you to. Don't let some officious security guard/tollbooth attendant type stop you. Your Nikes are made for boundary-free walking. You have as many rights as cattle, except maybe in the West. So JUST DO IT!


If you are not near Portland, you can call Nike at 800/344-6453 or write One Bowerman Drive, DF-1, Beaverton, OR 97005.


The "just do it" chant has spread to MTV. A few months ago, an MTV production company convinced the Bureau of Land Management to let 350 people use land in southern Utah for its Eco-Challenge run, paddle, ride. In return, MTV promised to promote light use of the land.


Instead, the resulting program contains heavy-footed stomping of cryptobiotic soils, according to the Oct. 5 Salt Lake Tribune. Rubbing sweat in the wound, the show mocks the requirement that contestants carry their bodily wastes out of the area.


BLM district manager Kate Kitchell, who approved the Eco-Challenge, was not amused and may not return MTV's $80,000 performance bond. MTV's Brian Terkelsen says Kitchell doesn't understand show biz or how easy it is to insult the IQs of MTV viewers:


"I have to market this to an MTV audience, and I am not willing to insult their intelligence with a plebeian explanation of eco doo-doo."


Others who don't understand show biz are local business people, whom MTV has stiffed for over $100,000. The leading stiffee is a helicopter firm owed $34,500.


Only the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance understands show biz. They fought the Eco-Challenge, and caught a lot of doo-doo for their pains, including a castigating editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune.


Ruminating on the deep congressional cuts in the Bureau of Indian Affairs budget, the Navajo-Hopi Observer speculates that travelers may one day encounter toll attendants (how did Nike know?) on the vast Navajo Reservation. Reporter Mark Michaels predicts the following reaction from tourists:


"Pay a toll? Why, I already support these people though my taxes. Now they're saying I've got to pay just to drive through their crummy reservation. That's ... that's ... unAmerican."


Tourists will also be puzzled by the names of Indian toll collectors:


"What kind of name is Begay, anyway? Is that Russian or something?"


Finally, at their most exasperated:


"I don't know about these darned Indians. If they don't like the way we do things in this country, why don't they just go back where they came from?"


How to combat wise-users? Just import French touristes. They're tough.


At least they were to Janni Loubser, perched on a rock panel in southern Utah's Capitol Reef National Park. The restorationist was covering bullet holes and "flying saucers from Uranus' so the panel's Fremont culture petroglyphs wouldn't be lost in a welter of faux incisions.


But the French, pouring off le tour bus, thought Loubser was a vandal, and two headed straight for him, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. Loubser said, "I thought they were going to pull me off" the rock, but then they realized what he was doing, and desisted.


It was once fun picking on Denver/Kansas International Airport. Now things are getting serious. The all-weather, $5 billion, state-of-the-art facility was paralyzed Oct. 22 by a snowstorm - minor by high-plains standards - that snarled auto traffic and interfered with takeoffs and landings. Deaths were narrowly averted by a pilot who aborted a landing because a maintenance truck was on the runway. DIA said the driver of the truck "was in lots of hot water." Also in trouble is the airport's radar system; it can't track airborne and landborne vehicles at the same time.


DIA had barely stopped explaining its bad snow day when Halloween fog forced 38 planes to divert to Colorado Springs. Air travel, it turns out, is a system: DIA has advanced radar, but many planes don't. Out at DIA, the computer age meets can-you-see-the-runway-yet age.


Travelers who had read about the state-of-the-art stuff were stunned. Marti Moore, a DIA strandee, told the Denver Post: "We heard a lot about the technology. We thought you'd have a fog blower here or something."


No fog blower, except with regard to media hype, but the airport is going to have more plows for its roads, erect snow fences, and be a little tougher about when its trucks travel on active runways.


In Post Falls, Idaho, rancher Kevin McGrath's 40 or so cows have been giving his suburbanizing neighborhood a lesson in the West. Charlene Beamer told the Spokane Spokesman-Review, "They poop on the lawn. They eat vegetables in the garden. Some charge you when you try to herd them ... It's my land, but I can't touch them. How Western is that?"


Very, very Western. Cows, it turns out, carry their property rights with them. Idaho law requires people to fence out cows. Ranchers are under no legal obligation to control their animals.


McGrath, an easy-going computer programmer-rancher working out of his electronic bunkhouse, has been too busy digitally, he says, to put on his chaps and round up the cows.


There's one cow he won't have to bother getting: it is rotting in a neighbor's yard, the apparent victim of an illegal herding technique.


From Tucson, Ariz., Mark Muro writes to point out an irony: Three scientists shared the Nobel Prize for explaining the dynamics of ozone and the ozone hole only a few months after the Arizona legislature passed a law legalizing the production of Freon. That made Arizona the first state (or nation) to flout the international ban on use of ozone-damaging chlorofluorocarbons.


* Ed Marston





Heard Around the West invites readers to get involved in the column. Send any tidbits that merit sharing - small-town newspaper clips, personal anecdotes, relevant bumpersticker slogans. The definition remains loose. Heard, HCN, Box 1090, Paonia, CO 81428 or HCNVIRO@aol.com