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Know the West

The Latest Bounce


Eric Schaeffer, a top Environmental Protection Agency official, has resigned over the Bush administration's failure to enforce new rules aimed at cleaning up power-plant pollution. "We are fighting a White House that seems determined to weaken the rules we are trying to enforce," he wrote in his resignation letter. His action has prompted Senate hearings to investigate the administration's environmental record.

A fight continues to rage over a proposed kitty litter mine on public lands north of Reno, Nev. (HCN, 9/10/01: Nevada tribe says kitty litter plan stinks). In late February, the county commissioners voted to deny Oil-Dri Corp. a permit to mine clay to process for kitty litter because of the impact the open-pit mine would have on water and air quality. Now, the Bureau of Land Management has also withdrawn its approval. Oil-Dri plans to file a lawsuit under the 1872 Mining Law.

Lynx in Colorado need a singles bar; they're having a hard time finding mates. Researchers monitoring the endangered cats are questioning the success of the 1999 and 2000 lynx reintroduction (HCN, 5/10/99: Lynx reintroduction links unexpected allies) because they haven't found any kitten tracks. They speculate that eligible lynx are too spread out to find mates.

A federal judge has ruled that southern Oregon's Klamath Tribe has the oldest water rights in the Klamath Basin (HCN, 8/13/01: No refuge in the Klamath Basin). The Basin is home to irrigators, endangered species, wildlife refuges, fishers and tribes, all of whom compete for a limited water supply. The ruling could allow the Klamath Tribe to prevent withdrawals by farmers when the water is needed to protect endangered suckerfish, which have historically been an important part of the tribe's economy.

A coalition of timber companies wants the federal government to reconsider protection for the northern spotted owl and the marbled murrelet (HCN, 11/19/90). The coalition plans to sue the Interior Department because the agency hasn't followed the Endangered Species Act requirement of reviewing the status of the threatened species every five years. According to loggers, the birds may not be in as much trouble as originally thought when listed in the early 1990s. Greens say this is an attempt to open more old-growth forests to logging.