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Know the West

The Wayward West

  President Bill Clinton designated another national monument (HCN, 4/10/00: Beyond the Revolution). Now 355,000 acres are preserved in California's Sequoia National Forest, and that means existing logging rights will be phased out over the next three and a half years. While environmentalists celebrated the latest link in Clinton's land-legacy chain, locals were upset. "We who live in these rural areas and are most affected by the decisions are neither consulted in a meaningful way nor heard," columnist Nancy Thornburg wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Snowmobiles are no longer welcome in most national parks, says the Department of the Interior (HCN, 3/13/00: EPA sets sights on snowmobiles). "The snowmobile industry has had many years to clean up their act, and they haven't," Donald Barry, assistant secretary of Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, told The New York Times. Snowmobilers are fuming and plan to fight for their right to ride.

Yellowstone National Park can cash in on microbes that thrive in its hotsprings, says a federal judge (HCN, 3/30/98: Groups sue over microbes). A lawsuit brought by three environmental groups failed to halt a deal allowing "bioprospecting" by Diversa Corp. of San Diego. The project, however, must undergo an environmental impact statement. Federal judge Royce Lamberth said the deal could "provide a valuable source of funding to support the Park Service's ongoing wildlife preservation."

No nuclear waste will be heading to Nevada - at least for now (HCN, 2/01/99: Where will the waste wind up?). President Bill Clinton vetoed a bill that would have shipped the waste to an unfinished repository at Yucca Mountain. The bill would have also stopped the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing radiation standards for storing the waste until Clinton was out of office. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said Congress' timetable for Yucca Mountain was "unachievable." Congress hopes to overturn the veto.

A federal judge called the Arizona-based Center for Biodiversity "valiant and persistent" in its 11-year battle with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over designation of critical habitat for the Mexican spotted owl. U.S. Magistrate Lorenzo F. Garcia gave the federal agency until Jan. 15, 2001, to make a decision.