Heard around the West


The U.S. Forest Service is thinking about changing the color of its 15,000 vehicles, now mint green. A new color would help create a more modern image, says an agency spokesperson, according to the Portland Oregonian. Some employees say they'd also welcome some anonymity on the job. Needling the federal agency, the Northwest Forestry Association has a suggestion: Before abandoning mint green, the agency should hold lots of public meetings and tack on a long public comment period, too.

Arizona has a couch-potato secret. A new survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control finds that Arizona ranks dead last in the nation for physical activity, which led the state's Health Department to declare an "epidemic" of sloth, reports the Arizona Republic. Yet last fall the state also ranked lowest in the number of fat adults. That stumps public health experts, who wonder how Arizonans can stay so slim when they flex their muscles so little. "Perhaps we're not getting off the sofa to go to the refrigerator," guesses state epidemiologist Norm Peterson. Surprisingly, Utah, home of myriad icecream stores, ranks number one in the percentage of adults who are physically active.

Speaking of potatoes, the University of Idaho has begun looking for a hotshot in the field of spud science. The Idaho Statesman says the state's position as a top potato-grower is threatened by North Dakota, for example, which produces a hot-seller russet, Norkotah. University officials have asked the state Legislature for $152,000 to come up with a "distinguished professor of potato science," who would work at the potato's molecular level. Meanwhile, in his weekly column, Idaho Sen. Larry Craig offered a Valentine's Day recipe featuring his state's tuber: Mash three cups of Idaho potatoes, push them into a heart shape, cross with a celery stick to make Cupid's arrow, then heat in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 or so minutes. Bon appetit.

San Francisco can be a persnickety city. In 1999, its Animal Control and Welfare Commission considered replacing the term "pet owner" with "animal guardian." There's a bigger battle coming, though, according to the San Francisco Examiner, this one over rodeos where cowhands wrestle steers, rope calves and run after greased pigs. Recently, the city's Animal Welfare Commission voted unanimously to protect animals by banning rodeo events that include cattle prods or bucking straps tied around a horse. The city's Grand National rodeo would escape the ban, since it takes place in nearby Daly City, but the Juneteenth Black Rodeo and other smaller events could get shut down. The Board of Supervisors makes the final decision.

An artist in Kanab, Utah, decided to bump off his subject after toy maker Mattel threatened him with a lawsuit. At festivals, Tom Forsythe had been exhibiting his photographs of Barbie dolls placed in novel situations: rolled in a tortilla, for instance, and placed in an oven. Though he covered the distinctly American dolls in enchilada sauce, he says, he never turned the oven on. "He is an exquisite photographer," says the director of the Kimball Art Center, in the Mountain Times Weekly. Mattel did not agree, and ordered the artist to leave copyrighted Barbie out of his work. Forsythe sought legal help to defend his right to express himself. After an unsuccessful four-month search, Forsythe gave up and surrendered his negatives to Mattel, promising never to take pictures of Barbie in strange places again. Then, he "executed Barbie against a background of red rock."

In Aspen, money does not always talk. In January, Pitkin County Commissioners announced that growth in unincorporated areas was largely uncontrolled and too expensive for taxpayers. So they called for a moratorium on monster homes, saying no applications would be accepted for building a house larger than 3,500 square feet. Commissioners also put the brakes on accepting subdivision applications. Though builders and others involved in Aspen's heated real estate market protested, some realtors welcomed the move, reports Associated Press. One said the moratorium "could lead to better quality, and what we sell in Aspen is quality."

Catch-and-release anglers have it rough: They fight hard to land their fish but never have anything tangible to bring back home. Not any more. Taxidermists have begun making wall mounts of just about every fish known, using resin and plastic, with no animal harmed to make the trophy. Fishers just name their catch, then select a taxidermist, who will go to a shelf, "pull down a blank, paint it, stick on synthetic fins, and, voila." Fake-fish trophies are increasing in popularity, reports the New York Times, and they cost just about the same as a mount for a real live dead fish.

Boise Weekly asked folks on the street what animal they'd like to be,and while Jim Henderson said he'd be a duck, because "if you don't like where you are, you can just go somewhere else," a woman calling herself "Jane Doe" said she'd be a man, "because I could be as lazy as I want and get away with it."

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]

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