The Wayward West

  A Missoula, Mont., pulp mill says it won't pump chlorine-related pollutants through its smokestacks or into the Clark Fork River anymore (HCN, 3/30/98). Smurfit-Stone Container Corp. says it's pulling out of the paper-bleaching business because it can't afford $40 million in EPA-mandated plant upgrades. Local activists cheered. "It's just sinking in," says Darrell Geist of the group Cold Mountain, Cold Rivers. "It's great news for the community."

A year after the Forest Service announced it wanted an 18-month moratorium on building any new roads through national forests, the rule is on the books (HCN, 2/2/98). Critics say the moratorium doesn't go far enough, however, because roadless areas smaller than 5,000 acres, for example, aren't protected.-We're glad that we've come this far," says Lesley Keith of the Oregon Natural Resources Council. "But it's definitely a work in progress."

Southern Colorado's Costilla County says it's suing the owners of the 77,000-acre Taylor Ranch to halt logging that is breaking county land-use rules (HCN, 11/24/97). Proponents say the lawsuit marks a milestone in community activism, because environmental groups joined the mostly Hispanic, rural county in battling the logging.

The protective umbrella of the Endangered Species Act may soon cover another species. Though the mountain plover was once found across the Western High Plains, only 10,000 birds remain. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the plover evolved with the black-tailed prairie dog, and as the range of the prairie dog shrinks and its habitat disappears, so does the mountain plover (HCN, 2/1/99).

Because North America's population of snow geese and the related Ross' geese has boomed to more than 3 million - triple the 1960s population - federal biologists say the birds are fouling their nest (HCN, 5/25/98). In February, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gave 24 states permission to relax hunting rules. Fish and Wildlife Director Jamie Clark said, "If we do not take action, we risk not only the health of the Arctic breeding grounds but also the future of many of America's migratory bird populations."

* Dustin Solberg

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