The latest bounce


For more than four months, the Bureau of Land Management has threatened to fine, and impound the cattle of, three ranchers who refused to remove their cattle from the Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument in southern Utah (HCN, 9/25/00: Ranchers test an agency's image). Now, the agency has followed through: Late last month, the BLM impounded the livestock and fined the ranchers a total of $5,000.

The BLM has gotten tougher in Wyoming. The agency pulled three oil and gas leases in Shoshone National Forest that would have allowed development on 3,536 acres of grizzly bear habitat (HCN, 9/25/00: Open for business: Wyoming throws away its water to get out the gas). The Bureau says it was responding to a lawsuit filed by Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund.

Recently, Congress passed a bill that will remove a uranium mine tailings pile the size of 118 football fields from the edge of the Colorado River near Moab, Utah (HCN, 1/31/00: Mountain of mine waste may move after all). The legislation, first introduced by Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, nearly a year ago, puts the Department of Energy in charge and orders the agency to move the 13 million tons of Atlas mine tailings away from the river and to improve the groundwater. Clinton is expected to sign the bill.

In northern Utah, a magnesium refinery owned by Magnesium Corp. of America has agreed to cut its chlorine emissions by 90 percent and to clean up dioxin contamination near the facility (HCN, 9/16/96: The filthy West: Toxics pour into our air, water, land). Locals living near the plant on the edge of the Great Salt Lake have complained for decades that the company's air emissions caused high cancer rates, birth defects and respiratory problems.

The Idaho Watersheds Project and the Committee for Idaho's High Desert plan to sue more than 50 state and federal agencies, farmers and ranchers for illegally "taking" endangered salmon (HCN, 8/28/00: Ranchers forgo their federal lease). The lawsuit, based on federal regulations for salmon recovery, would aim to boost streamflows and restore habitat in the upper Salmon River watershed.

High Country News Classifieds