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Know the West

The latest bounce


The Bush administration has nominated Neal McCaleb to head the Bureau of Indian Affairs. McCaleb, a member of the Chickasaw Nation, is a former Oklahoma secretary of Transportation. Trained as a civil engineer, he served as a state congressman for eight years, during which time he supported a state effort to tax Indian businesses on tribal land. As assistant secretary for Indian Affairs, he will be charged with managing Indian trust money and providing government services to 561 federally recognized tribes.

President George W. Bush has decided not to challenge a Clinton administration regulation that would ban snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park by the winter of 2003-2004 (HCN, 3/27/00: Parks rev up to ban snowmobiles). While wilderness lovers say that's good news, they worry it will be a short-lived victory. Currently, the Bush administration is negotiating with Wyoming officials and snowmobilers to allow limited use of sleds within park boundaries. Any Bush agreement would effectively replace the Clinton ban.

Jet Skis may also soon be banned from some national parks (HCN, 1/29/01: Park Service bans Jet Skis). On April 12, a federal judge agreed with the nonprofit Bluewater Network that Jet Skis are bad for clean air and water, wildlife and public health. Now, unless the Park Service undertakes a park-specific environmental review of the "thrill-craft" by 2002, Jet Skis will be illegal in 21 parks.

As the Bush administration completes its review of the Clinton's roadless area conservation rule, Utah has jumped on the bandwagon, joining Idaho, Alaska and timber company Boise Cascade Co. to legally challenge the roadless plan (HCN, 3/26/01: The environmental movement is a-muddle). According to the Utah Attorney General's office, the plan violates the agency's "multiple-use" mandate. Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Nevada are considering joining the lawsuit.

A ritzy ski town in Colorado has succeeded in stopping sprawl - at least for now (HCN, 8/14/00: Telluride tackles ski town sprawl). The Telluride Town Council voted to condemn 700 acres on the edge of town in order to prevent the development of meadows and wetlands valued at $22.6 million. Towns usually condemn land to build roads, but Telluride plans to preserve the majority of the acreage as open space.