The Wayward West

  Chalk one up for the Coeur d'Alene Tribe in northern Idaho. U.S. District Court Judge Edward Lodge rejected the state's attempt to stop the tribe from taking control of the southern third of Lake Coeur d'Alene and part of the St. Joe River, reports the Spokane, Wash., Spokesman Review. The decision came on the eve of the tribe's "Water Potato Day," a holiday celebrating the root that grows to about the size of an egg, and is one of the most important traditional foods the Coeur d'Alenes take from the lake (HCN, 8/17/98).

The courts have been kicking motorheads out of the pool this fall. In mid-October, San Juan County, Wash., banned jet skis and other "personal watercraft" from its waters. Although the watercraft industry sued to kill a previous ban, a Washington Supreme Court judge dismissed the challenge this summer (HCN, 8/4/97). Time is also running out for jet skis and motor boats on Lake Tahoe. On Oct. 1, U.S. District Judge Frank Damrell rejected an appeal from the industry challenging a ban on two-stroke carbureted motor boat engines. The ban goes into effect next June.

Moab, Utah, residents and environmentalists got a hit of cold water in the face in September when Atlas Minerals Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company's uranium tailings pile is leaking radioactive elements, ammonia and other pollutants into the Colorado River (HCN, 4/13/98). Atlas has put down a $6 million bond to clean up the tailings, but the project could cost between $19 million and $150 million, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. "Where are they going to get the money?" asks Cullen Battle, an attorney for the Flagstaff, Ariz.-based Grand Canyon Trust. His group is suing Atlas, and plans to sue the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to force a clean-up.

The federal government will help foot the bill to clean up Oregon's streams and rivers. Gov. John Kitzhaber and other officials announced in October that farmers will get up to $200 million in subsidies over 15 years to plant trees along waterways where farming and ranching have damaged endangered salmon habitat. Oregonians shot down a ballot initiative that would have forced similar measures on farmers two years ago (HCN, 11/25/96). "This is huge," Oregon Trout conservation director Jim Myron told the Portland, Ore., Oregonian. "It could make a really, really big difference for fish."

* Greg Hanscom

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