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Know the West

The Latest Bounce


Two influential Utahns are on the move. On Jan. 8, Rep. Jim Hansen, R, announced that he will retire at the end of this year, closing out 22 years in the House (HCN, 6/4/01: Will the Grand Staircase suffer shrinkage?). The chairman of the House Resources Committee and much-reviled opponent of environmentalists cited family and health as two of the reasons for his retirement. Former Utah Department of Natural Resources director Kathleen Clarke was confirmed as the new director of the Bureau of Land Management on Dec. 21 (HCN, 9/10/01: The Latest Bounce).

Oregon coastal coho are under federal protection again, after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stayed an earlier decision that stripped the fish of endangered species status (HCN, 12/3/01: Ruling ripples through salmon country). The decision has halted a number of timber sales, at least until the appeals court reaches a final decision, which could take more than a year. Petitions challenging 16 other salmon and steelhead listings are still moving forward, but an Earthjustice lawyer says that the new ruling "takes a little bit of the fire out of these 'me-too' cases."

A 131,000-acre expansion of the Army's Fort Irwin training range was approved by Congress on Dec. 13 (HCN, 6/4/01: Tortoises take on tanks). The Army says it needs the expanded California range for long-range, high-speed tank training, but the area contains critical habitat for the threatened desert tortoise and is home to the Lane Mountain milkvetch, an endangered plant. The expansion isn't a done deal yet: The Army still has to show that the plan complies with environmental regulations. A draft environmental impact statement is due out this spring.

Yellowstone ranger Bob Jackson is back in action (HCN, 11/19/01: Outspoken Yellowstone ranger gagged). The Park Service slapped Jackson with a gag order on Aug. 30 after his vocal criticism of some hunters' illegal use of salt licks to lure elk and grizzly bears out of Yellowstone National Park. On Dec. 26, Jackson reached an agreement with the Park Service that lifted his gag order, guaranteed his rehiring next year, and placed a letter of commendation in his file.