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Heard around the West


Many federal bureaucrats like hiding behind a desk. Jim Furnish is admittedly gregarious. He also loves the Oregon coast and hopes eight citizens from around the United States will want to join him for an expense-paid weekend of brainstorming while taking hikes along the cliffs.

Furnish makes no bones about needing help. Supervisor of the Siuslaw (pronounced Sigh½-ous-slaw) National Forest, a 630,000-acre gem that stretches along the Oregon coast, he has five recreation-fee pilot projects going at places like the Oregon Dunes and Mary's Peak. Now, he'd like to talk about them, and about eliminating more roads and finding ways to fund a publicly owned forest where logging has been drastically reduced. "I'm looking for ideas," he says. To "win a weekend on the Oregon Coast! With Jim Furnish!" as a flyer announces, buy a $25 annual Siuslaw Recreation Fee permit and write a 250-word essay explaining "why you value the Siuslaw National Forest." A panel - still to be selected - will choose the eight people for the Sept. 25-27 weekend. Write Public Affairs Specialist Joni Quarnstrom at the Siuslaw National Forest, 4077 Research Way, Corvallis, OR 97333 (541/750-7075); deadline Aug. 1.

Not to be outdone in the public outreach department, the Nevada Test Site invites people to the desert June 9 to tour its bomb craters "and the many relics remaining from nuclear weapons tests," leaving at the cool morning hour of 7 a.m. Make reservations with Brenda Carter at 702/295-0944. That's not all, folks. A bright yellow flyer announces a film festival on the following day, featuring "NEW, NEVER BEFORE PUBLICLY RELEASED FILM FOOTAGE!" of 50-year-old atom bomb tests. Festival impresarios are the Nevada Operations Office of the Department of Energy. Contact them at Box 98518, Las Vegas, NV 89193, or call Sandra Smith, 702/295-4059, or e-mail her at [email protected]

Yet another public agency has dared to be different, or at least provocative. Under the headline "Live to fish another day," the Idaho Department of Fish and Game notes that "Drowning will ruin your fishing career ..." Writer Jack Trueblood says one remedy is a life vest.

Sometimes you have to go mano a mano with a lion that won't give up. One big cat, lunging at a 24-year-old hiker in the Denver area's Roxborough State Park, backed off when the hiker stabbed it with a Swiss Army knife. Then, when the lion attacked again, the hiker "jabbed his thumb in the lion's eye," reports The Denver Post. That worked better than the knife. The lion retreated and the hiker ran down the trail, yelling, "Call 911."

Just a month earlier in the same paper, mystery writer Nevada Barr talked about her new book, Blind Descent, featuring the plucky park ranger, Anna Pigeon. Barr said she hates to preach; instead she hopes that the cause of conservation "will just slide into people's awareness." She is frank about her bias. When it comes to a choice between nature and humans, Barr said, she votes for nature. "We Americans aren't scared about dying in car accidents. We're blasé about that. But when a mountain lion eats one lousy jogger, everyone goes crazy." And, she added, with a bit of sarcasm: "When people ask, 'What if they eat children?' I say, 'There're lots of children.' "

Portland, Ore., has not given up on people - even people who steal the yellow free bikes the city gave away to cut down on motorized transportation. Though the bikes disappeared or were "beaten into oblivion," Associated Press reports, organizers of the 1994 pilot program will try again. This time there will be more volunteers, bike shops doing free repairs, and bikes that lack a middle bar "to discourage young male riders who do most of the stealing."

A man in Three Forks, Mont., wasn't happy about getting ticketed $195 for a commercial trucking weight violation, the Great Falls Tribune reports. He was even less happy when the local paper reported he'd been arrested for deviate sexual conduct, a felony. Now, the 22-year-old is suing both the High Country Independent Press and Gallatin County, where the computer glitch occurred, because "this is an ongoing thing. I've heard every sheep joke you can imagine." He learned of the mistake from his family, and says that after he strenuously denied the report, his parents, wife and sister all concluded he was "in denial" and urged him to seek treatment. The paper has printed a prominent correction.

Some people love to live dangerously. Mountaineer Stephen Koch had climbed to between 11,000 and 12,000 feet on Wyoming's Mount Owen recently, when an avalanche let loose, sweeping up the 29-year-old snowboarder and sending him some 2,000 feet down the mountain. Koch plunged over several small cliffs and badly damaged both knees and his back, reports the Jackson Hole Guide, though he was never buried by the flying snow. Rescued by helicopter, he says he still hopes to be the first to snowboard the tallest peaks on all seven continents.

Golden parachutes, when they open publicly, can be humiliating. At least they ought to be, say the governor of Montana, the state's congressional delegation and even the Montana Mining Association. All have protested giving $5.5 million in bonuses to four executives and 22 managers of Pegasus Gold Corp., which declared bankruptcy in January. The Spokane, Wash.-based company is $200 million in debt and blames low gold prices for its business failures, AP reports. Critics blame poor management and say the bosses seeking golden parachutes in severance pay and "performance bonuses" are the same bosses who sank the firm.

Heard around the West invites readers to get involved in the column. Send any tidbits that merit sharing - small-town newspaper clips, personal anecdotes, relevant bumper sticker slogans. The definition remains loose. Heard, HCN, Box 1090, Paonia, CO 81428 or [email protected]