On The Trail

  In Utah, Republican Rep. Merrill Cook was fishing for green votes when he told his urban Wasatch Front district that he wants to see more Beehive State wilderness protected - without saying exactly how much (HCN, 8/3/98). But his support for wilderness didn't endear him to environmental groups.

In early September, the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters endorsed his Democratic challenger, Lily Eskelson, a teacher and former president of the Utah Education Association. Eskelson says she supports the 5.7 million-acre wilderness bill now before Congress.

In Idaho, the League of Conservation Voters plunked down $200,000 for a campaign to keep Idaho Rep. Helen Chenoweth from winning a third term. The Republican faces Democrat Dan Williams, the same challenger she narrowly defeated in the last election. The League is hoping its money will sway between 2 and 5 percent of voters in November - all that's necessary, they say, to defeat one of the leaders of the anti-environmental contingent in Congress.

In Arizona, critics say a citizens' initiative known as the "Growing Smarter" referendum is not what it appears. The measure promises $20 million a year for the acquisition and protection of state trust lands now open to development, and that has lured the support of private land trusts seeking to preserve open space.

But the measure would also outlaw many tools used to manage growth, says the Sierra Club. If the developer-supported Proposition 303 passes, the state could not require developers to pay mandatory impact fees, nor could the state enact growth boundaries as part of a growth management plan.

"There are a few (open space) groups that are supporting it because they desperately want the money," says Sierra Club's Sandy Bahr. "We're encouraging people to oppose it."

* Dustin Solberg

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