The Wayward West

  Idaho Lt. Gov. Butch Otter can't stay out of hot water. The Environmental Protection Agency recently socked Otter with an $80,000 fine for dredging 2.7 acres of wetlands and a stream channel without a permit. It was his third EPA violation since 1992. Otter told the Idaho Statesman he accepted responsibility for failing to secure permits, but blamed state and federal regulators for a "godforsaken" permit process. The four-term lieutenant governor has announced he wants to succeed retiring Rep. Helen Chenoweth, R-Idaho, who has promised not to seek another term.

Hailey environmentalist Jon Marvel beat out millionaire Mary Hewlett Jaffe, daughter of one of the co-founders of Hewlett-Packard Co., for four parcels of state grazing land. It is his first victory since this April, when the Idaho Supreme Court restored his right to compete for state grazing leases (HCN, 8/2/99). The bidding began at $200, Marvel countered with $1,200, and the auction ended. Marvel predicted the Jaffe ranch would appeal the loss within a 20-day period allowed by the state Board of Land Commissioners, and it has. The board reviews the appeal tomorrow, Oct. 12.

After U.S. Fish and Wildlife spent hundreds of hours trying to catch wolves suspected of killing ranch dogs, a foal, and two calves this spring, it issued a permit Sept. 9 for a Wyoming ranch manager to kill two wolves on the Diamond G ranch near Dubois. It is the first time the agency has authorized a landowner to shoot a wolf not in the act of killing stock (HCN, 4/13/98). Jon Catton, spokesman for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, called the permit a "blank check to destroy a threatened species."

Conservationists along Montana's Rocky Mountain Front found an unlikely ally in Mark Alldredge. Earlier this month the Thermopolis, Wyo., man abandoned 104 mining claims he filed in 1996. His claims would have been grandfathered in, even though Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck closed 429,000 Front acres to hard-rock mining this February (HCN, 2/15/99). Alldredge told the Great Falls Tribune that the current political climate in Montana influenced his decision.

The Blue Ribbon Coalition launched a campaign to open up wilderness. Calling the Wilderness Act "antiquated" and "inflexible," the Pocatello, Idaho-based group says logging, mining and off-road vehicles should all be allowed in wilderness areas. The coalition includes Plum Creek Timber, the American Petroleum Association and the Montana Snowmobile Association.

* Ali Macalady,

Karen Mockler
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