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Know the West

The Latest Bounce


Mounting criticism of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' creative cost-benefit analysis has prompted the agency to put 150 projects, such as harbor deepening and beach restoration, on hold. The soundness of the Corps' criteria for evaluating projects has been questioned by the General Accounting Office and in a recent series in The Oregonian (see story above). At press time, the Corps had not announced the specific projects being reconsidered; but the Columbia River dredging project, which is being re-examined separately, is not one of them.

Efforts to piece together the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site have taken a big step forward (HCN, 9/11/00: A massacre is not forgotten). In 1864, 163 women, children and elders of the Cheyenne Tribe were killed at the site in eastern Colorado by state militia members. This April, a crucial 1,465-acre parcel whose owner was threatening to sell out to developers was purchased by an Oklahoma casino owner and turned over to the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes of Oklahoma. The tribes hope to include the land in the historic site.

With the "easy" cleanups done and only more difficult ones left, the Superfund is running out of money (HCN, 3/4/02: EPA wants to supersize Idaho Superfund site). In 1995, Congress refused to renew a tax that collected the lion's share of the Superfund's budget from the corporations and industries involved. Since then, industry has lobbied aggressively to prevent the tax's reauthorization. The Superfund is expected to be down to an inadequate $28 million by next year.

Faced with staunch opposition from 10 Indian tribes and sketchy chances of actually hitting oil, Denver-based Anschutz Exploration Co. has announced that it won't drill in south-central Montana's Weatherman Draw, whose rock art is sacred to the tribes (HCN, 6/18/01: Tribe tussles over target range). On April 23, the company announced that it will transfer its leases to the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The push to get snowmobiles out of Yellowstone National Park has a little more gas (HCN, 4/1/02: Move over!). On April 29, the Environmental Protection Agency weighed in with a comment letter that recommends the Park Service eliminate snowmobiles in both Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks because their continued use would violate air quality standards. The agency recommended replacing snowmobiles with multi-passenger snow coaches.