Beavers battle oil and gas spills

 

THE WEST

It takes a bold person to tinker with Smokey Bear, the U.S. Forest Service icon who proclaims, "Only YOU can prevent forest fires." Messing with the paunchy blue-jeaned bear and his strong message might just earn you a cease and desist letter, plus a threat of jail time and fines. That happened to Lopi LaRoe, an artist and Occupy Wall Street activist, after her altered image of Smokey went viral on Facebook and the Web. LaRoe's "NO FRACKING" Smokey warns, "Only you can prevent FAUCET fires" -- referring to flaming water taps caused by nearby gas extraction. "This is Smokey waking up and saying, 'Oh, you didn't do that to my environment,' " LaRoe says. "Smokey wants to fight the corporations and protect the air and the water and the plants and the animals and the people." LaRoe plastered her vision of Smokey on everything from T-shirts to tote bags -- "great for Dumpster diving" -- and, as she notes with a grin, "It spread like wildfire." Legal counsel for the Forest Service, however, told LaRoe in no uncertain terms that Smokey is government-owned, and co-opting his image to sell a product can result in up to six months in prison and a fine of up to $150,000, reports the website readersupportednews.org. No word yet on whether LaRoe has severed her relationship with her controversial anti-fracking bear.

THE WEST

Who knew that six beavers could become environmental saviors? Unwittingly, of course, a dam they created was crucial in halting the spread of 27,000 gallons of gasoline from a leaky pipeline. Absent the beaver dam, the gas would have spread across a huge area from Salt Lake City through Idaho to Spokane, Wash., reports the Idaho Statesman. But the beavers paid dearly for their community service, "with petroleum burns that Utah officials treated with baths of Dawn dish soap and water at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah." Four of them recovered fully, but two younger animals needed more time to battle infections. Leaks along the Chevron pipeline, which supplies Boise with gas and diesel fuel, are nothing new: Two earlier pipeline breaks earned the company $400,000 in federal fines.

Freedom's just another word for 'Get the heck off my lawn.' Courtesy Kim Crumbo.


MONTANA AND THE WEST

How many men -- much less women -- can carry 110 pounds over three miles in less than an hour and a half? Or do seven pull-ups, 25 push-ups, 45 sit-ups and run a mile and a half in less than 11 minutes? In 1981, any women who aspired to join the elite group of Western smokejumpers, firefighters whose dangerous job starts with a leap out of a plane, needed to complete that rigorous rookie program. That year, Deanne Shulman became the first woman smokejumper, and since then, writes Lori Messenger in Montana Magazine, 109 women, including Messenger, have joined the ranks. Many "firsts" were celebrated along the way, including first female Native American, first Hispanic female, first jumping mother, and more recently, first jumping grandmother. Last year, at a joyous 30th anniversary gathering, it became clear how established women had become in the profession when a younger woman introduced herself by noting apologetically: "Well, I wasn't the first at anything." Everybody roared with laughter. The 370 smokejumpers on the job this summer often call each other "Bro," but some of those Bros are definitely "Sisters" now.

THE SOUTHWEST

As Bill Donovan explained in the Navajo Times, Obi Wan Kenobi will soon say, "May the force be with you!" in the Diné language: "Adziil Nitholoodo!" In a first for the Navajo Nation, tribal members will dub Star Wars in Navajo. Manuelito Wheeler, director of the Navajo Nation Museum, said he started thinking about dubbing a popular film into Navajo more than a decade ago, and many critics rank Star Wars as among the top 10 movies ever made. It would encourage kids to learn their language, he figured, and help preserve Navajo culture. Wheeler received an enthusiastic response when he approached Lucasfilm not long ago. The company agreed to make the film available, and funding then came from the tribe's Parks and Recreation Department. Now, Star Wars-Navajo-style will debut at no charge for reservation moviegoers at a July 4th celebration; afterward, it will be shown regularly at the Navajo Museum.

WYOMING

Hats off to Wyoming Game and Fish Department Warden Joseph Kraft, whose detailed police work nabbed two men who shot two deer out of season. When Kraft found a headless deer carcass last winter, he examined nearby litter and found a chewing tobacco tin; at the site of the second dead deer, there was a can of Monster Energy Rehab drink. At a convenience store, Kraft then scanned surveillance photos until he spotted two guys buying the same brands of tobacco and drink. A credit card receipt soon revealed the poachers' names. Brian Nesvik, chief game warden for the department, wasn't kidding when he explained that cases like this are pursued "vehemently."

Tips and photos of Western oddities are appreciated and often shared in this column. Write [email protected].

High Country News Classifieds
  • COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
    Western Colorado Alliance for Community Action is seeking two full time community organizers to join our team. Positions can be based in Garfield County, Montrose...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Join our team as the Association's Executive Director. Working closely with the Board of Directors, take ANWS to the next level of professionalism by managing...
  • FRIENDS OF CEDAR MESA DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    Friends of Cedar Mesa is hiring a Development Director who will have the overall responsibilities of leading our fundraising programs and reports directly to our...
  • WATER RIGHTS/ADJUDICATION BUREAU CHIEF
    Job Overview: Working to support and implement the Department's mission to help ensure that Montana's land and water resources provide benefits for present and future...
  • CLIMATE CHANGE COORDINATOR
    The Greater Yellowstone Coalition is seeking a Climate Change Coordinator to play a lead role in shaping our programs to make the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Executive Director Position Announcement POSITION TITLE: Executive Director ORGANIZATION: Friends of Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument REPORTING TO: Board of Directors EMPLOYMENT TYPE: Part-time - Full-time, based...
  • HEALTHY CITIES PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    The Healthy Cities Program Director leads and manages the Healthy Cities Program for the Arizona Chapter and is responsible for developing and implementing innovative, high...
  • CONSERVATION PROGRAM MANAGER
    Grand Staircase Escalante Partners (GSEP) Conservation Programs Manager Job Opening Our Mission: Honoring the past and safeguarding the future of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument through...
  • ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
    Grand Staircase Escalante Partners (GSEP) Associate Director Job Posting Our Mission: Honoring the past and safeguarding the future of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument through science,...
  • UNIQUE, ENERGY-EFFICIENT HOME ON ACREAGE NEAR MOSCOW, IDAHO
    Custom-built energy-efficient 3000 sqft two-story 3BR home, 900 sqft 1 BR accessory cottage above 2-car garage and large shop. Large horse barn. $1,200,000. See online...
  • OUTDOOR ADVENTURE BUSINESS FOR SALE
    Missoula Outdoor Learning Adventures (MOLA) - established and profitable outdoor adventure & education business in Missoula, Montana. Summer camp, raft & climb guide, teen travel,...
  • OJO SARCO FARM/HOME
    A wonderful country setting for a farm/work 1350s.f. frame home plus 1000 studio/workshop. 5 acres w fruit trees, an irrigation well, pasture and a small...
  • STEWARDSHIP COORDINATOR
    Join Skagit Land Trust (the Trust), a not-for-profit conservation organization based in Mount Vernon, Washington, and help protect land for people and wildlife. Skagit Land...
  • 2022 SEASONAL SCIENCE EDUCATOR
    The Mount St. Helens Institute Science Educator supports our science education and rental programs including day and overnight programs for youth ages 6-18, their families...
  • POLICY DIRECTOR
    Heart of the Rockies Initiative is seeking a Policy Director to lead and define policy efforts to advance our mission to keep working lands and...
  • CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER
    Self-Help Enterprises seeks an experienced and strategic CFO
  • CONSERVATION SPECIALIST - LAND PROTECTION FOCUS
    View full job description and how to apply at
  • RIVER EDUCATOR & GUIDE
    River Educator & Guide River Educator & Guide (Trip Leader) Non-exempt, Seasonal Position: Full-time OR part-time (early April through October; may be flexible with start/end...
  • LAND AND WATER CONSERVATION DIRECTOR
    The Land and Water Conservation Director is a full-time salaried position with the Mountain Area Land Trust in Evergreen, CO. The successful candidate will have...
  • FOOD SYSTEMS ENVIRONMENTAL FELLOWSHIP
    If you were to design a sustainable society from the ground up, it would look nothing like the contemporary United States. But what would it...