Magazine
Libby's dark secret

March 13, 2000

Asbestos-laced dust from a vermiculite mine near Libby, Mont., has caused illness and death among locals for decades, but it is only recently that the media - and victims - have called W.R. Grace & Co. to account.

Feature

Libby's dark secret
Asbestos-laced dust from a vermiculite mine near Libby, Mont., has caused illness and death among locals for decades, but it is only recently that the media - and victims - have called W.R. Grace & Co. to account.

Sidebar

Who knew what, and when?
Mine owner W.R. Grace says it's always been frank about the dangers of asbestos, but former workers and union leaders disagree, pointing to damning company memos.
'It's like sacking feather'
Former mine worker Lester Skramstad, who is dying of asbestos-caused disease, recalls how he and co-workers worked casually with asbestos, unaware of the danger.
'Grace is going to have to own up'
Don Judge of the Montana State AFL-CIO says W.R. Grace is culpable in the tragedy of asbestos poisoning.

Uncommon Westerners

Tom Watkins has left us, but his Western dream remains
T.H. Watkins is remembered as "a writer and teacher and concerned citizen and father and husband and consummate agitator" whose literature and life revealed a deep love for the West.
The last Celtic warlord lives in New Mexico
A profile of Catron County, N.M.'s lawyer, Jim Catron, reveals a man steeped in Celtic and cowboy mythology, and uncompromising in his anti-government fervor.

Essays

A barbed tragedy is lodged in Libby
The writer describes her thoughts as she witnessed the closing arguments of an asbestosis case in Libby, Montana.
Shadows out West
"Maria," an illegal immigrant, is only one among the many thousands whose work keeps the West going, even as the workers live in fear of deportation.
Shoveling vs. sniveling
A Montana mill owner's plan to send 10,000 shovels to Elko, Nev., so sagebrush rebels can re-open a road closed by the Forest Service, is "a triumph of symbolism over substance," according to the writer.

Perspective

Marc Racicot: One of the would-be president's men
Montana Gov. Marc Racicot, R, is a popular politician and a likable man, but environmentalists say his support of shooting wandering Yellowstone bison shows how weak his environmental record is.

Heard Around the West

Heard around the West
Feces hits fan (and houses) in Utah again; Ariz. Legislature says state has right to secede, and worries about too much democracy; Flexcar in Seattle and Portland; golf carts in Senior Estates, Ore.; Reno billboards; Seattle school toilets save money.

Dear Friends

Dear Friends
Chris Setti and Joint Action in Community Service; HCN wins Web site award; Ted Smith of Kendall Foundation and Newsweek's Brook Larmer among visitors.

News

A new town hits the skids
After a 14-hour hearing packed with anti-growth activists, Garfield County Commissioners vote down Sanders Ranch, a huge development that would create a new town between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale.
The Wayward West
Rosebud Sioux can't halt hog farm; illegal aliens caught near Douglas, Ariz.; Yosemite toad and mtn. yellow-legged frog in danger; Lolo Nat'l Forest, Mont., off-limits to snowmobiles; George W. Bush promises not to breach Snake River dams.
Poison traps kill unintended victims
After an M-44 cyanide trap put on their land by a government trapper kills the family dog, Paul and Lee-Ann Wright sue the federal government.
Goose got your gander?
A skyrocketing population of once-uncommon Canada geese has some locals up-in-arms and ready to try lethal methods to bring goose numbers under control.
Round two for Steens Mountain development
John and Cindy Witzel want to build a school for outfitters on the 160 acres they own on Oregon's Steens Mountain, an area also being considered for national monument status.
Hunter orange is a long shot
In Idaho, sportsmen are divided over a proposed law that would require hunters to wear blaze orange clothing.
Endangered species must learn to wait
Environmentalists are fighting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to no longer accept petitions seeking to move species off the agency's candidates list and up to formal threatened and endangered status.
A scarce bird tests the new rule
Crawford, Colo., rancher Mark Le Valley and other locals have set up a voluntary conservation plan to protect the Gunnison sage grouse enough to keep it off the endangered list.
Loggers tap new forests
The decline of logging in the Northwest has created a timber boom in the South, where most timber grows on private lands and chip mills are increasingly popular.
EPA sets sights on snowmobiles
The Environmental Protection Agency says snowmobiles should be banned in Yellowstone, at least until cleaner machines are built, but the Park Service is seeking a less controversial alternative.
Neighborly mining negotiations sour
In Montana, a consensus effort between environmental groups and the Stillwater Mining Co. have stalled over the mine's insistence that environmental data be kept secret and lawsuits not allowed.
A dam good speech
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber becomes the first major political figure in the Northwest to back breaching of four Snake River dams to help endangered salmon.

Letters

High Country News Classifieds
  • NEWS DIRECTOR
    Based in the state capitol, Boise State Public Radio is the premier NPR affiliate in Idaho. With 18 transmitters and translators, it reaches 2/3rds of...
  • INTERNET-BASED BUSINESS FOR SALE
    Dream of owning your own business, being your own boss, working from home ... this is the one.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR MOJAVE DESERT LAND TRUST
    Organization Background: The Mojave Desert Land Trust (MDLT) is a non-profit 501(3)(c) organization, founded in 2006. Our mission is to protect the ecosystems of the...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    If you are deeply committed to public service and would like to become part of our high performing, passionate and diverse team, NCAT is looking...
  • TRIPLEX .8 ACRE KANAB, UT
    Create a base in the center of Southern Utah's Grand Circle of National Parks. Multiple residential property with three established rental units and zoning latitude...
  • FORGE & FAB SHOP
    with home on one beautiful acre in Pocatello, ID. Blackrock Forge - retiring after 43 years! Fully equipped 5,500 sf shop including office, gallery and...
  • SMALL FARM AT THE BASE OF MOUNT SHASTA
    Certified organic fruit/berry/veggie/flower farm. Home, barns, garage, separate apt, more. Just under 2 ac, edge of town. Famously pure air and water. Skiing, mountaineering, bike,...
  • FOREST STEWARDSHIP PROJECT DIRECTOR
    Become a force for nature and a healthy planet by joining the Arizona Chapter as Forest Stewardship Project Director. You will play a key role...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Ranchers Stewardship Alliance is accepting applications for an Executive Director. This position will provide leadership to RSA, develop a fund raising plan, and effectively communicate...
  • WRITING PLACE: THE ANIMAS RIVER REGION WRITING WORKSHOP
    REGISTER ONLINE BY: Friday, June 15 WHERE: Durango, CO (location TBD) WHEN: Monday, July 16 Youth workshop: 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. (18 and under,...
  • EQUITY IN THE OUTDOORS COORDINATOR
    The Equity in the Outdoors Coordinator will lead community engagement, program implementation and development, and data collection for the Eagle Valley Outdoor Movement (EVOM). EVOM...
  • COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT ASSISTANT
    The Idaho Conservation League is seeking a personable individual who is passionate about conservation to join our Sandpoint Field Office. The Community Engagement Assistant will...
  • LIGHTWEIGHT FLY ROD CASES
    4 standard or custom lengths. Rugged protection for backpacking. Affordable pricing.
  • EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION INTERN/ASSISTANT
    Actively introduce students to Experiential Education, Outdoor Recreation, and Sustainability while engaging and challenging them to learn and participate in these diverse opportunities. Room, board,...
  • ENVIRONMENTAL INVESTIGATIVE MEDIA SERVICES
    In-depth investigations of polluters, lobbyists, regulators, elected officials and others focused on environmentally damaging projects in the U.S. and internationally. We specialize in mining projects,...
  • UNDEVELOPED 40 ACRES - SOUTHWEST COLORADO
    in beautiful Montezuma County.
  • TRUCK DRIVER
    Class A & B drivers, pass all DOT requirements and clean driving record
  • MARIA'S BOOKSHOP FOR SALE
    - Thriving Indie bookstore in the heart of Durango, Colorado. General bookstore with 34-year history as a community hub for Southwest region of CO. 1800...
  • ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
    HawkWatch International seeks an experienced fundraiser to join our awesome team! This position will provide support in all aspects of the department. We are looking...
  • DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
    will develop and execute Wild Utah Projects fundraising plan. Call, email or check full description of job online for more details: