The Wayward West

  Tension over logging the Taylor Ranch in southern Colorado continues. Costilla County sheriff's deputies and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation haven't found who sabotaged seven electrical power poles on the property last month. Ranch manager Vic White says someone with a saw severed three poles and cut the others three-quarters through. White calls the action "harassment to get back at the ranch for logging," which is still going on. A state commission recently withdrew from negotiations to buy the 53,000-acre ranch when owner Zachary Taylor rejected the state's $12 million offer and asked for more money (HCN, 11/24/97).

In southern Arizona, tiny Tortolita's brief life as a mostly empty town on the edge of Tucson is under threat. The state Court of Appeals has ruled that a 1997 law that allowed Pima County to approve Tortolita's incorporation violates the state constitution. Tortolita residents created their town last summer to stave off suburbanization (HCN, 9/29/97). Lan Lester, Tortolita's mayor, says the town has appealed to the state Supreme Court.

A federal judge has given the Clinton administration until Feb. 15 to produce a final version of its informal "no surprises' policy, which lets landowners set up wildlife protections in lieu of following the Endangered Species Act (HCN, 8/4/97). Officials have suspended the policy in the meantime. Environmental groups sued in 1996, calling the three-year-old policy illegal because it was announced with no formal review.

Oprah Winfrey and other multi-home owners don't have to live in the Mountain Village resort near Telluride, Colo., to vote in municipal elections (HCN, 2/19/96). Last month, the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court ruling against local residents who sued the town to block the right of non-residential property owners to vote. But John Steel, attorney for the plaintiffs, won't give up. He's asked for a rehearing before the 10th Circuit. Says Steel, "We think the decision is completely at odds with popular democratic principles."

It might become harder to marry in Utah, if you're a teenager. Carl Saunders, a Republican state representative, is sponsoring legislation to raise Utah's legal marriage age from 14 to 16. Current law allows teenagers as young as 14 to marry as long as their parents and a juvenile court judge approve. Raising the marriage age, says Saunders, lets young people "know that if they are promiscuous, they can't get married."

* Peter Chilson

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