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Know the West

The latest bounce


President Clinton has done it again. On Nov. 10, he created the 293,000-acre Vermilion Cliffs National Monument near the Grand Canyon in Arizona, bringing the tally of new monuments to 10. Clinton also expanded Idaho's Craters of the Moon National Monument by 661,000 acres.

Last-minute politicking by Colorado politicians ensured $5 million from Congress to preserve land in the Red Mountain Mining District (HCN, 7/3/00: Red Mountain tries to hang on to history). The Forest Service can now purchase over 3,000 acres of land atop the mountain as part of a larger effort to block development in the 10,500-acre mining district.

Washington state conservationists also received good news from Congress. Due in large part to intense lobbying by the Cascades Conservation Partnership, the Forest Service received $24.3 million to buy 6,400-acres previously owned by Plum Creek Timber Co. By 2003, the Partnership plans to raise enough money from both federal and private funds to acquire all 75,000 acres of the wildlife corridor in the central Cascade Mountains.

Coloradans who live below the notorious Summitville gold mine are hopeful that after seven years of reclamation efforts, the Alamosa River may be healthy (HCN, 6/19/00: Colorado considers a mining ban). On Oct. 25, 150 caged rainbow trout were placed in the river to test water quality; all survived. Just 10 years ago, the mine's poisons killed all aquatic life in the river for 17 miles.

Fish elsewhere got a break: On Oct. 31, Federal Judge Susan Illston said the National Marine Fisheries Service broke the law when it failed to add steelhead trout in Northern California and southern Oregon to the endangered species list (HCN, 12/20/99: Unleashing the Snake). The nonprofit Klamath Forest Alliance, one of the groups that filed suit against the agency, says logging during the last 30 years has caused the fish to die out.