The Wayward West

  Endangered chinook salmon have put the brakes on a new traffic light at a dangerous intersection in Puyallup, Wash. Because the light will be funded with federal money, the city must complete a biological assessment to determine if construction will harm salmon or other wildlife. Nearby resident Pam Bott told AP a two-month delay is tolerable, but added, "I hope I'm not one of the people involved in an accident at that corner."

Traffic in Idaho's Salmon River has increased to a trickle. In August, two male sockeye salmon swam from the Pacific Ocean up the Columbia and Snake rivers to the headwaters of the Salmon. Both were reared in a captive breeding program and released near the Sawtooth Hatchery in Idaho in 1998. Last year, only one sockeye made the trip (HCN, 8/3/98).

Elk and bison can migrate north out of Yellowstone National Park this winter. In late August, the federal government and the Church Universal and Triumphant completed phase two of a deal that will give the Forest Service 9,000 acres of winter range on the Royal Teton Ranch near Gardiner (HCN, 3/15/99). In recent winters, the state of Montana shot bison that wandered onto the ranch.

The Bureau of Land Management will have to pick up the pace when it comes to taking cows and sheep off damaged rangelands. On Aug. 20, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals told the agency that when livestock are damaging grasslands, national rules require it to change grazing practices no later than the start of the next grazing season. "It's amazing that the BLM has to have the second-highest level of the federal court tell it that its own regulations mean what they say," said Jon Marvel of the Idaho Watersheds Project, the group that sued the agency over the rules (HCN, 8/2/99).

Cows are quietly coming off the range in southern Utah's Capitol Reef National Park. The Grand Canyon Trust teamed up with the Park Service in August to buy out the 11,688-acre Cathedral Grazing Allotment, removing the last cows from the northern part of the park. The trust's Bill Hedden called the buy-out "a small but historic deal."

* Greg Hanscom
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