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Know the West

The Wayward West

  There's grim news for the Yellowstone cutthroat trout: Whirling disease, the fatal parasite that wiped out several trout populations in Colorado and Montana in 1994 (HCN, 9/18/95), has resurfaced in the prize fisheries of Yellowstone National Park. The extent of the disease in the park is not yet known, but the Salt Lake Tribune reports that 11 infected cutthroat trout were found in Yellowstone Lake earlier this month.

Earth First! activist Lori Graves of Moscow, Idaho, got a rude awakening one morning early this month when a Molotov cocktail was ignited on her front steps and a cross was set afire in her yard. Graves, who was arrested last summer for protesting an Aryan Nations march in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, believes the firebombing was the work of a member or supporter of the right-wing group. "I'm scared to death right now, but I know we have to respond," she says. "We can't just run. That only empowers them."

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has vowed to fight the reopening of an experimental reactor at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southeastern Washington (HCN, 8/3/98). Supporters say that the Fast Flux Test Facility could produce plutonium for the space program and medical isotopes for the treatment of cancer patients, but "none of these arguments passes the smell test," said Wyden at a press conference in early December. The Department of Energy is expected to decide the fate of the reactor by the end of December.

The push to move the massive Atlas uranium tailings pile away from the banks of the Colorado River near Moab, Utah, appeared to be dead in the water last summer (HCN, 8/17/98). Now, political support for the idea is on the rise. In mid-November, conservative Grand County, Utah, joined a lawsuit challenging the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission's decision to leave the low-level radioactive waste in place. And late last month, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, R, and Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, paid a visit to Moab and called for the pile to be moved. "I am puzzled by the fact that the pile was placed in the floodplain of the river in the first place," said Babbitt.

* Michelle Nijhuis