Items by Mark Matthews

A 'shroom boom rises from the ashes
Last summer's wildfires cleared the ground for a boom in commercial mushroom-picking on Montana's national forests.
Varmint hunters sidelined in Wyoming
In Wyoming, Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest Supervisor Mary Peterson bans sport shooting of prairie dogs at Thunder Basin National Grassland.
Montana shock jock stokes the fires of fear
In Kalispell, Mont., "shock jock" John Stokes owns radio station KGEZ and uses it as a platform for his virulent, far-right attacks on environmentalism and other issues.
The West's fire survivors
A look at the Intermountain West's trees notes how the different species adapt to and even profit from periodic fires.
Can Mr. Nice Guy lead the Forest Service?
Newly appointed Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth is generally liked and respected by agency colleagues, timber advocates and environmentalists, although some greens worry that he may not stand firm in the face of pressure from the Bush administration.
Back into the woods
In the wake of last summer's devastating Western wildfires, the Forest Service is trying to figure out how to restore the unhealthy, doghair, fire-prone forests created by a century of fire suppression and indiscriminate logging.
Montana gets a taste of old-time logging
Critics say a massive salvage-logging operation in the wildfire-burned Sula State Forest, Mont., won't leave enough snags and downed trees for wildlife and forest rejuvenation.
Last chance for the whitebark pine
The whitebark pine is in steep decline in the mountains on the Idaho-Montana border.
Protect yourself from wildfires
Some practical suggestions for making your home more fire safe.
Home is where the heat is
This summer's wildfires are raising questions about development in the "wildland-urban interface" - places like Montana's Bitterroot Valley, where Forest Service firefighters are using all their resources to protect homes and cabins.
Forests on a forced diet
National forests across the country are cash-strapped and hard-pressed to get everyday work done because a greater percentage of the agency's budget is staying in Washington, D.C.
Protesters rock roadless area hearings
Environmentalists in favor of roadless area protection and loggers and ORVers against it both gather in Missoula, Mont., to give the Forest Service their opinion.
Babbitt’s monument tour blazes on
Babbitt’s monument tour blazes on
The Clinton administration designates four new national monuments: Hanford Reach, Oregon's Soda Mountain area, Arizona's Ironwood Forest and the Canyons of the Ancients in southwestern Colorado.
The Clark Fork unplugged
The EPA wants to remove a dam on Montana's Clark Fork River that had been holding back contaminated mine tailings from Butte and Anaconda, and have the waste cleaned up.
Wanted: experienced firefighters
With the summer shaping up to be a hot one for fires, especially in the Southwest, the Forest Service is worried about finding enough money, firefighters and also avoiding the problems that contributed to the deaths of 14 firefighters in 1994.
Reclaiming a golden landscape
In a precedent-setting move, a Montana judge says that the Golden Sunlight Mine has to reclaim land whether or not it's made a profit on mining.
'Grace is going to have to own up'
Don Judge of the Montana State AFL-CIO says W.R. Grace is culpable in the tragedy of asbestos poisoning.
'It's like sacking feather'
Former mine worker Lester Skramstad, who is dying of asbestos-caused disease, recalls how he and co-workers worked casually with asbestos, unaware of the danger.
Who knew what, and when?
Mine owner W.R. Grace says it's always been frank about the dangers of asbestos, but former workers and union leaders disagree, pointing to damning company memos.
Libby's dark secret
Asbestos-laced dust from a vermiculite mine near Libby, Mont., has caused illness and death among locals for decades, but it is only recently that the media - and victims - have called W.R. Grace & Co. to account.
Working class can't foot the bill
Some social scientists and activists charge that user fees will have a disproportionate impact on working-class people and shut many of them out of the public lands.
The swift fox comes home
The Blackfeet Indian Tribe has released 30 captive bred swift foxes onto the reservation in Montana.
Experiment takes the cut out of logging
As traditional logging declines on Montana's Flathead National Forest, the Flathead forestry project experiments with a new form of logging that rewards the loggers for restoring sick forests through environmentally conscious work.
A spray can is no substitute for smarts
Bear specialist Gary Moses says that backcountry users carrying pepper spray should never let down their guard in bear country.
Bear spray manufacturers get a hit of reality
Recent studies are casting doubts on whether pepper spray is as effective as once thought in protecting hikers and hunters from attacks by bears.
Do prairie dogs steal grass?
For a century, ranchers have believed that prairie dogs compete with cattle for grass - a notion contemporary biologists are debunking.
One grassland grows prairie dogs
On Wyoming's Thunder Basin National Grassland, prairie dogs thrive along with a host of other wildlife.
Shooting: It's not a hunt per se
Prairie dog shooting is a profitable sport that many conservationists would like to see banned, or at least controlled, on public lands.
Craig Knowles, scientist caught in the middle
Wildlife biologist Craig Knowles - the point man for prairie dog conservation in Montana - doesn't think the animal needs to be listed as threatened.
Prairie dogs found in pet stores and pounds
Connecticut resident Rebecca Fischer organized Prairie Dog Rescue to deal with the many prairie dogs adopted as pets on the East Coast and later unwanted by their owners.