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A Walk Between Worlds June 21, 2004

A Walk Between Worlds

On a 10-day walk through the northwestern New Mexico desert, the author follows an ancient road that leads him from silent Indian ruins into noisy, modern gas fields. Also in this issue: Land managers have been talking about letting more wildfires burn, but the recent blowup of the Peppin Fire near Capitan, N.M. – home of Smokey Bear – leads to renewed talk of aggressive fire suppression.

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Wal-Mart's Manifest Destiny June 07, 2004

Wal-Mart's Manifest Destiny

Wal-Mart wants to build more giant Supercenter stores in the West, but communities like Inglewood, Calif., are starting to take a stand against the world’s largest company. Also in this issue: Even the National Rifle Association came out in support of a Tucson, Ariz., open-space saving bond, which passed in a landslide despite complaints from critics that it was just pork.

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In Search of Solidarity May 24, 2004

In Search of Solidarity

Some activists hope that the current hard times facing both workers and the environment will resurrect the strong alliances that once existed between greens and labor unions. Also in this issue: NOAA Fisheries is drafting new regulations that will allow hatchery-raised fish to be counted along with wild salmon and steelhead, a move that property-rights lawyers hope will take the species off the endangered list.

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Shooting Spree May 10, 2004

Shooting Spree

The West’s environmentalist lawyers are manning the legal barricades, as the Bush administration stealthily attacks the nation’s bedrock environmental laws. Also in this issue: Arizona activists team up with Rep. Raul Grijalva to create a small-scale wilderness proposal for the Tumacacori Highlands.

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Outsourced April 26, 2004


The Bush administration is outsourcing to private contractors jobs formerly done by employees of federal agencies, among them the job of the Forest Service Content Analysis Teams (CATs) – the people who receive and report the comments of the public. The team was sacked, many say to the detriment of the public connection, and with increased cost to taxpayers. Also in this issue: Controversial energy bill, to increase domestic oil and gas drilling and force federal agencies to expedite permits for energy projects on public lands, came back yet again, but was defeated in the Senate, 50-47.

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The One-Party West April 12, 2004

The One-Party West

With the Interior West almost exclusively Republican territory, "Democrats for the West," a coalition of leaders, have issued a challenge to fellow Democrats to create sustainable Democratic majorities. Also in this issue: While mountain lions receive bad press for what some say is increasing aggression against humans, experts say that humans may be the real problem. Lion killing in most Western states is increasing, and biologists say no state has ever had a sound population estimate for the animals. Without sound data, politics often plays into determining hunting quotas.

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Who Will Take Over the Ranch? March 29, 2004

Who Will Take Over the Ranch?

As private lands become the new frontier in the West’s wild real estate frenzy, ranchers are turning to land trusts in places like Gunnison, Colo., to find out how to hold on to their land and keep it open and undeveloped. Also in this issue: California decides to set its own new "public health goal" for perchlorate contamination, but critics point out that it is both legally unenforceable and lower than the previous goal.

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The New Water Czars March 15, 2004

The New Water Czars

In Arizona, a historic water deal could give the tiny, impoverished Gila River Indian Community a path back to its farming roots – and turn it into one of the West’s next big power brokers. Also in this issue: Western ranchers rejoice when a federal court jury finds that the nation’s largest meatpacker, Tyson/IBP, has illegally squeezed $1.28 billion from independent cattle producers.

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The Last Open Range March 01, 2004

The Last Open Range

Wyoming’s Green Mountain Common Allotment is one of the West’s last big, wide-open landscapes – but these days, ranchers, environmentalists, history buffs and the BLM are arguing over whether it’s time to start putting up fences. Also in this issue: Nearly a decade after Imperial Valley irrigators fought off a water grab by Texans Ed and Lee Bass, the Imperial Valley Irrigation District buys the old Bass property, Western Farms, and the water rights that come with it.

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Courting Disaster February 16, 2004

Courting Disaster

A right-wing coup is under way in the nation’s courts, which George W. Bush is stacking with anti-environmental judges, and the impacts on Western conservation issues are not going to be pretty. Also in this issue: National Park Service wilderness coordinator Jim Walters resigns in frustration over the agency’s neglect of wilderness, after the superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks allows helicopters in wilderness areas.

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Mending the Nets February 02, 2004

Mending the Nets

Port Orford, Ore., is working hard to create a new kind of community-based, sustainable fisheries management for the over-fished ocean. Also in this issue: Environmentalists and immigration activists have a few doubts about President Bush’s proposed immigration reform policy.

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Two decades of hard work, plowed under January 19, 2004

Two decades of hard work, plowed under

The Bush administration opens up wild lands to oil and gas drilling, pulling the rug out from under two decades of citizen wilderness activism. Also in this issue: Judge Emmet Sullivan reinstates a Clinton-era ban on snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.

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Being Green in the Land of the Saints December 22, 2003

Being Green in the Land of the Saints

Mormons are often stereotyped as conservative anti-environmentalists, but Utah activists Richard Ingebretsen and Chris Peterson of the Glen Canyon Institute want to convince fellow believers that it’s OK to be green. Also in this issue: The proposed salvage logging of the Biscuit Fire area in Oregon’s Siskiyou Forest is one of the largest timber sales in history, and critics say it’s not only ecologically dangerous, but undermines the Roadless Rule.

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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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