The Wayward West

  Missing: more than 600 boxes of documents from the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory in southern Idaho (HCN, 9/29/97). Federal scientists studying the effects of the laboratory's underground radioactive storage facility on downwinders fear the boxes were lost or destroyed by past INEEL employees; they say that at least 60 of the boxes may have contained information important to their research.

A coalition of 19 environmental groups has sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on behalf of the northern goshawk, a raptor that lives in old-growth forests throughout the West. Environmental-ists first asked the agency to list the goshawk as endangered in 1991, kicking off a long legal battle (HCN, 3/30/98). Two previous lawsuits have forced the agency to reconsider its decision not to list the bird, but the agency has stuck with its denial. Environmentalists involved with the suit hope the third time's the charm.

BP-Amoco Corp. may now have an easier time satisfying Wyoming's cleanup requirements for its refinery site in the city of Casper (HCN, 2/15/99). The state legislature recently passed a bill that relaxes state standards for cleanup of "brownfields," or old industrial sites. Lawmakers say the bill will finally free up the sites for other uses, but environmentalists say it's a dangerous deal. "Without hyperbole, this is the worst environmental bill in the session," says Mac Blewer, a lobbyist for the Wyoming Outdoor Council. The bill is now on its way to the desk of Gov. Jim Geringer, who has lent lukewarm support to the measure.

The battle over the proposed Crown Jewel open-pit gold mine in the Okanogan Highlands of north-central Washington (HCN, 8/31/98) continues. Although the Washington State Department of Ecology has approved a water-quality permit for the state's first large-scale gold mine, the agency predicts that the proposed mine will violate water quality standards. A local environmental group, the Okanogan Highlands Alliance, appealed Ecology's decision in mid-February.

Two of the Canada lynx released in southern Colorado three weeks ago (HCN, 2/15/99) have starved to death. Three more lynx, all females, are still roaming the Rio Grande National Forest. The Colorado Division of Wildlife may release as many as 50 more cats this winter, but biologists now say they'll keep the lynx in holding facilities for an extra week or two to make sure they're in prime condition.

* Michelle Nijhuis
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