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Riding the middle path December 08, 2003

Riding the middle path

A homegrown consensus effort called the Owyhee Initiative is trying to save both wilderness and ranching in southwestern Idaho – but in the polarized Bush era, consensus is often controversial. Also in this issue: Federal wildlife managers admit that the massive fish kill in the Klamath River in 2002 was caused, in part, by the diversion of water to farmers.

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New Mexico goes head-to-head with a nuclear
juggernaut November 24, 2003

New Mexico goes head-to-head with a nuclear juggernaut

Los Alamos National Laboratory is booming, revitalized by a new era of weapons development – but the state of New Mexico wants the lab to clean up its old Cold War-era messes before it starts making new ones. Also in this issue: A 10-year-old plan to build a controversial expressway through Petroglyph National Monument hits a "stop" sign, when Albuquerque voters refuse to pay for it.

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San Diego's Habitat Triage November 10, 2003

San Diego's Habitat Triage

San Diego, Calif., adopted its groundbreaking Multiple Species Conservation Program to protect wildlife habitat while allowing for continued community growth – but critics say endangered wildlife is the loser in the deal. Also in this issue: Critics say it’s not a coincidence that the Bush administration announces bad environmental news – like the recent rollback of mine-tailings limits – late on Friday afternoons, when media coverage is sparse.

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The Gear Biz October 27, 2003

The Gear Biz

The West might still be the nation’s outdoor playground, but the Western companies that make outdoor recreation gear are finding greener pastures overseas. Also in this issue: A landmark California water deal has Imperial Valley irrigators finally agreeing to sell Colorado River water to San Diego, without sacrificing the Salton Sea.

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The Big Story Written Small October 13, 2003

The Big Story Written Small

The West’s big newspapers fall short when it comes to covering today’s most important issues: the "big story" about the environment, and the impacts on the region of growth and development. Also in this issue:Lea County, N.M., is courting Louisiana Energy Services, a company that wants to build a uranium-enrichment facility to create fuel for nuclear power plants.

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Harvesting Poison September 29, 2003

Harvesting Poison

The pesticides used in orchards and farm fields in places like eastern Washington endanger the health – and even the lives – of immigrant farm workers. Also in this issue: While Congress debates whether Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt should take over the Environmental Protection Agency, the agency itself plows ahead in an anti-environmental direction.

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The West's Biggest Bully September 15, 2003

The West's Biggest Bully

Radio shock jock John Stokes wants to scare environmentalists away from Montana’s Flathead County, but his bullying tactics have led instead to increased unity among his opponents and quiet conservation progress. Also in this issue:The Earth Liberation Front takes credit for vandalizing Hummers and SUVs at Southern California car dealerships, and an SUV-owners’ group says environmentalists are to blame.

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Courting the Bomb September 01, 2003

Courting the Bomb

The hardscrabble desert town of Carlsbad, N.M. – already home to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant – is brushing aside the fears of environmentalists and arms-control advocates in its eagerness to host the Bush administration’s planned new nuclear bomb factory. Also in this issue:Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, R, is President Bush’s pick to run the Environmental Protection Agency, and some environmentalists fear he will prove little more than a yes-man.

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Where the Antelope (and the Oil Companies) Play August 18, 2003

Where the Antelope (and the Oil Companies) Play

In Wyoming’s Upper Green River Basin, a natural gas boom is threatening pronghorn antelope and other wildlife, and some Pinedale-area residents are beginning to fight back. Also in this issue: The West is likely to be the loser under the new energy bill just passed by Congress.

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Pipe Dreams August 04, 2003

Pipe Dreams

Nevada’s dirt-poor Lincoln County is rich in water, but conservationists have reservations about Vidler Water Company’s plans to market it, and the city of Las Vegas has its own needs– and plans – for that water. Also in this issue: As drought dries up the Rio Grande, New Mexico’s congressional delegation goes after a court decision upholding the endangered silvery minnow’s right to water.

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Invasion of the rock jocks July 07, 2003

Invasion of the rock jocks

Bishop, Calif., is a hot spot for the lively new sport of bouldering, but some fear that the new generation of rock-climbers is short on environmental ethics, treating nature as little more than an outdoor climbing gym. Also in this issue:Even as wildfires blaze in Arizona and New Mexico, and President Bush’s forest-thinning plan moves through Congress, Western governors counsel moderation in logging and suggest more research and collaboration.

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'Sound science' goes sour June 23, 2003

'Sound science' goes sour

Federal scientists are facing increasing pressure from bureaucrats and politicians, and some are blowing the whistle on what is happening in their agencies – among them biologist Michael Kelly of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Also in this issue: Three Colorado towns have won water rights for kayaking courses, making the state one of the few that recognize in-stream water rights for recreation, and worrying traditional water users.

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How we see the West June 09, 2003

How we see the West

A life-threatening stroke in Idaho’s Craters of the Moon National Monument puts the author’s fight for wilderness into perspective. Also in this issue: Frustrated by Utah’s anti-wilderness moves, the national outdoor-equipment industry threatens to move its twice-yearly giant Outdoor Retailer show out of Salt Lake City.

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A losing battle May 26, 2003

A losing battle

Billions of dollars are being spent to fight Western wildfires, but some scientists now believe that the big blowups can’t be prevented, and that they may be good for the health of the forests. Also in this issue:Environmentalists fear the Republican-sponsored "Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003" – intended to prevent wildfires – will prove anything but healthy for the forests.

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Planting time May 12, 2003

Planting time

The native-seeds business is thriving, as more Westerners realize the value of a restored and healthy rangeland, but the current unfriendly political climate in Washington, D.C., may bring an untimely frost. Also in this issue:The Clinton-era Sierra Nevada Framework is being dismantled under the Bush administration, and California spotted owls, denied protection as endangered species, may pay the price.

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Indian Power April 28, 2003

Indian Power

Fueled by money from casino gambling, New Mexico’s Indian pueblos and reservations are throwing their political weight into the state’s water tug-of-war. Also in this issue:Starting in Utah, Interior Secretary Gale Norton has slammed the door shut on new BLM wilderness proposals and inventories and wilderness study areas.

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Change comes slowly to Escalante county April 14, 2003

Change comes slowly to Escalante county

Just as it seemed the local communities were starting to accept the BLM’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, the rise of conservative national politics has helped to revive old grudges and stir up opposition. Also in this issue: Conservationists say it’s too soon for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to declare that wolves are no longer endangered.

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Tinkering with Nature March 31, 2003

Tinkering with Nature

Predator control may have a small place in saving endangered species, but it makes a lot more sense to bring back an ecosystem’s keystone species – as can be seen in Yellowstone, since wolves have returned. Also in this issue:Fallon, Nev., is home to the fastest-growing cancer cluster in U.S. history, and some researchers suspect that the seemingly harmless metal tungsten may be to blame.

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Bracing against the tide March 17, 2003

Bracing against the tide

On the coast of British Columbia, tribes, fishermen and environmentalists are fighting the spread of Atlantic salmon farms, which they fear could have catastrophic effects on already endangered native salmon runs. Also in this issue: Westerners are becoming more concerned about incidents of cruelty to wildlife, but laws against such acts remain inconsistent in the region.

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The Wild Card March 03, 2003

The Wild Card

As the Wilderness Act nears its 40th birthday, it takes a new kind of wheeling and dealing to protect wild lands, and there’s no better place to see the new face of the movement than Las Vegas, Nev. Also in this issue: The Border Patrol wants to erect 249 miles of fences along the Arizona-Mexico border, and some environmentalists are worried about their impact on desert wildlife.

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Wyoming at a crossroads February 17, 2003

Wyoming at a crossroads

Wyoming’s new governor, Democrat Dave Freudenthal, may have a chance to turn the stagnant state around economically and environmentally, by reducing its dependence on energy and mineral industries. Also in this issue: Some residents of Los Lunas, N.M., say the planned expansion of the wastewater treatment plant is designed to benefit the mayor, who wants to build a subdivision.

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The death of the Super Hopper February 03, 2003

The death of the Super Hopper

The disappearance of the Rocky Mountain locust -- which once swarmed the Plains like a biblical plague, only to die out entirely within decades --- holds serious lessons for humanity. Also in this issue: The Bush administration rolls back a Clinton-era moratorium on RS 2477, a controversial old statute that some Western counties have used to claim designated roads in wilderness areas, parks and monuments.

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A breath of fresh air January 20, 2003

A breath of fresh air

For over 30 years, the Northern Cheyenne have stood firm against energy development and its environmental impacts, but now, faced with crushing poverty, some are starting to think about developing the reservation’s coal and methane resources. Also in this issue: At midnight on New Year’s Eve, Interior Secretary Gale Norton astonished California by it cutting off from the "surplus" Colorado River water it has long been using, after the state failed to come up with promised water transfers.

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In search of the Glory Days December 23, 2002

In search of the Glory Days

Twenty years after its longtime mainstay, the Climax Molybdenum Mine, closed, Leadville, Colo., is still groping for a secure economy and a new identity. Also in this issue: The Forest Service has announced a major overhaul of the forest planning process that some fear may cut out both environmental oversight and public involvement, and lead to even more legal gridlock.

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Life in the wasteland December 09, 2002

Life in the wasteland

Eureka, Utah, unearths a toxic legacy just as its only hope for rescue, the federal Superfund cleanup program, blows away. Also in this issue: Thousands of park and forest jobs could go to private contractors.

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