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Know the West

The Wayward West

  Pilots of "personal watercraft" such as Wavejammers and WetJets may get reined in at Lake Powell. The National Park Service is considering making parts of the reservoir "Jet Ski free," because of increasing complaints - many from houseboaters calling from cell phones. A federal rule is expected soon allowing all national park superintendents to restrict the sport (HCN, 11/10/97). Walt Dabney, superintendent of Utah's Canyonlands, dove in last month, banning personal watercraft from the Colorado and Green rivers within the park.

Motorheads in Yellowstone National Park will zoom unimpeded this winter. Park officials dropped a proposal from the Fund for Animals and Biodiversity Legal Foundation to close a snowmobile trail through the Hayden Valley. The groups say snowmobile trails make it easy for bison to wander outside park boundaries (HCN, 10/27/97). "It's clear that the political and economic pressure on the Park Service is so intense that they are either unwilling or unable to make decisions based on the best interest of Yellowstone," Jasper Carlton, head of the Biodiversity Legal Foundation, told AP.

Bison activist Delyla Wilson is paying the price for dumping a bucket of bison guts on a table in front of federal officials last March. The gut-dumping was to protest the killing of bison that wandered outside Yellowstone last winter (HCN, 4/14/97). A federal judge gave Wilson two years' probation for "congressional assault," and a local justice added $630 in fines and 190 days in jail. Perhaps her penalty is minor compared to the two-year jail term and $14,594 in fines facing animal rights activist Clinton Ellerman, convicted of releasing thousands of mink from a Utah fur farm last year. Judge Robert Hidler said 21-year-old Ellerman commited "an act of terrorism."

A federal judge in Seattle has given the Forest Service the go-ahead to trade 4,362 acres of national forest for 30,253 acres of Weyerhaeuser land in Washington's Cascade Mountains. Judge William Dwyer's ruling halted lawsuits brought by the Pilchuk Audubon Society and the Muckleshoot Indian tribe, which argue the agency is giving away ecologically and culturally valuable forest for land that has been heavily clearcut. The Sierra Club, which wants to replant the clearcuts, praised the decision.

After two years as director of the Colorado Division of Wildlife, John Mumma is on his way out. Mumma made news as a staunch defender of wildlife when he quit his job with the U.S. Forest Service in 1991, rather than accept reassignment to Washington, D.C., for resisting pressure to increase logging in Montana and Idaho (HCN, 10/7/91). The resignation came as a surprise, according to the agency's Todd Malmsbury, but, he adds, Mumma is just "worn out." Mumma and his wife plan to move back to Montana when his contract expires July 1.

* Greg Hanscom