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Know the West

Heard around the West


Utah's state seal refrains from exhortations, but does feature a bald eagle flapping its wings above a beehive.

Judy Fahys in the Salt Lake Tribune finds this far too bland: "To truly personify the state, Utah's official seal might have illustrated a family the size of a track team slurping vanilla ice cream cones." The subject of an ideal seal has arisen because for the last three decades no standards have existed for deciding who oversees Utah's insignia and who collects fees for its use. A few years ago, a state legislator stamped the seal on campaign literature, something the state attorney general said was a no-no. Then that same state attorney general used it as garnish on her invitations to a fund raiser. The days of seal ambiguity are over, however; a state commission is about to decide what's appropriate, "and anyone who uses it without permission can be prosecuted for forgery, a felony."

Here's a hot tip for traveling to ancient Indian ruins in the arid Southwest: A map in The Denver Post May 25 shows readers how to find a "meltable use area."

Water cops in Las Vegas have a tough job, reports the Washington Post. When an investigator for the city water district confronted a resident about his wasteful sprinkler, the man angrily responded: "Man, with all these new rules, you people are trying to turn this place into a desert."

A new stamp suggests that the West is just a large blob to some federal bureaucrats. The 60 cent international stamp carries a picture of Grand Canyon, but Colorado gets credit for the big ditch. The Grand Canyon more accurately slices through Arizona, thanks in part to the Colorado River. Now the Postal Service is debating this question: Must 100 million stamps be reprinted just because of a little misplacement of a very large canyon?

The Jackson Hole News called it "antlermania." On May 1, almost 100 cars and hundreds of people lined up east of the National Elk Refuge in Wyoming for a chance to scout the ground for elk castoffs. One horn hunter said he'd heard that wolves had helped the searchers by pushing elk off the refuge and up into the hills where antlers can be picked up legally. Jackson resident Dani Major said she was counting for help on her dog: "If he can bring home the neighbor's tennis shoes, I don't know why he can't find me an antler." At the annual antler auction in Jackson May 15, the average price per pound was $10.23 for 10,641 pounds sold. The "prize price" was $2,044 for a 28-lb. set of matched antlers. Antlers get turned into everything from powdered potions for aging Asian men to chandeliers and coffee tables.

Grave messages sometimes can be humorous. In a Ruidoso, N.M., cemetery, an epitaph reads:

Here lies
Johnny Yeast
Pardon me
For not rising.

In a Silver City, Nev., cemetery:

Here lies Butch,
We planted him raw.
He was quick on the trigger,
But slow on the draw.

Nike told everybody to "Just do it," and an "extreme 'biler" from Jackson, Wyo., took the advice to heart, reports the Jackson Hole Guide. Shad Free gunned his snowmobile to the edge of Corbet's Couloir on the Bridger-Teton National Forest, then plunged straight down the snowy gorge. Surprisingly, he lived, only to get ticketed by the Forest Service for his daring. Bad luck could have meant a dangerous rescue. Free explained, "It was one of those things that I had to do."

A 2,000-lb. bison named Bart became a media celebrity last summer when he busted out of his small pen at a Tucson guest ranch, then stubbornly resisted capture for four days (HCN, 9/14/98). Resort employees were so desperate to lure him back, reports the Arizona Daily Star, that "they nearly resorted to a woman in a buffalo suit who planned to sashay seductively past Bart." Now, thanks to Adrian Bruno, who runs an animal sanctuary in Picture Rocks, Ariz., Bart will have the run of 20 acres, but not in Arizona. Bruno, who bought Bart at auction for $1,300, is sending the frustrated beast to a Montana sanctuary, where a female companion, in this case a real bison, waits to wander by his side.

Open a gaily colored box of Celestial Seasonings herb tea and you're liable to linger on the homilies printed outside. They specialize in sage advice and gentle reminders that the natural world is a good world. On the Boulder, Colo., company's Web page there's also this line from William Shakespeare: "No legacy is so rich as honesty." The politically correct business may have tarnished its legacy recently by waffling for days about its killing of black-tailed prairie dogs on company land. When the Boulder Daily Camera called to confirm the night-time poisoning of the rodents, which are under consideration for federal protection as a threatened species, a spokesperson said bike racers might have been the culprits. Only reluctantly did the company come clean, admitting that poison was regularly used to keep the dog population down.

Heard around the West invites readers to get involved in the column. Send any tidbits that merit sharing - small-town newspaper clips, personal anecdotes, relevant bumper sticker slogans. The definition remains loose. Heard, HCN, Box 1090, Paonia, CO 81428 or [email protected]