The Great Western Apocalypse

August 19, 2002

The drought of 2002 has left the West blistered and burnt, scientists predict worse to come. Have we learned anything yet? Also in this issue: This year's drought has killed 10,000 cattle and ravaged the range. But corruption and resentment over earlier attempts to control grazing are stifling reform just when it's needed most.


The Great Western Apocalypse
Record-breaking heat and drought are frying the West, and scientist John Harte of the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Gothic, Colo., warns that this summer is only the kick-off for what global warming is likely to bring.
Corruption and tragic history paralyze range reform on the Navajo reservation
Drought is having catastrophic impacts on the Navajo Reservation, but past history and current politics keep grazing reform from happening.
Walla Walla Basin sidesteps a water war
On the Walla Walla River In southern Washington and northern Oregon, local farmers and environmentalists have avoided a drought-sparked water war with collaboration and innovative irrigation reform.
Attack of the bark beetles
Mercilessly hot conditions in the drought-stressed West have aggravated infestations of bark beetles that attack several species of trees -- but perhaps the best response to the epidemic is to do nothing at all.
The sod squad wants to soak you
In the drought-stricken West, water cops, singing governors and giant walking raindrops are just some of the odd measures spawned by water-conservation campaigns.


New Mexico ranchers push to graze preserve
In drought-stricken northern New Mexico, ranchers are pushing to open the Valles Caldera National Preserve to livestock grazing.
Can the tide turn for Walker Lake?
As Nevada's Walker Lake gets smaller and saltier, the Paiute tribe, local farmers and the BLM wrestle over water rights and wonder how to keep the threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout alive without destroying the area's economy.
Shrinking water supply makes room for birds
At Roosevelt Lake in Arizona, endangered southwestern willow flycatchers are actually thriving as the water level drops and willow and tamarisk take over.


Chasing hope amid the hedonists
At the Burning Man Festival in Nevada's Black Rock Desert, an eccentric city is created and then destroyed, and lives are sometimes changed along the way.


Presidential hopeful plays with fire
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., is in hot water over his attempt to appeal-proof a controversial thinning project in his home state, but the situation is more complicated than his gleeful Republican opponents admit.

Writers on the Range

Hot town, summer in the city
Living with drought in cities such as Denver, Colo., has its challenges.

Heard Around the West

Heard around the West
Hotchkiss, Colo.; Santa Fe finds bright spots in drought; "Aspen - The Sitcom"; speeding and religion in Idaho; benefits of clear-cuts; organic lunches in California schools; biking to work in Flagstaff; Julia Child in Aspen.

Dear Friends

Dear Friends
Drought story brings rain; here's to our readers; visitors; HCN bids a fond farewell to staffers Anne Miller and Marion Conger Stewart.
Happy 100, Mardy Murie
Conservationist Mardy Murie's 100th birthday will be celebrated with a special gathering at the Murie Center in Moose, Wyo.


Blame game sheds little light on fires
The Forest Service blames environmentalists for this summer's catastrophic Western wildfires, and although Greens reply that the agency is actually at fault, the push for more logging is growing in Congress.
The Latest Bounce
Endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow; Park Service deliberating about snowmobiles; Thomas Slonake's resignation from Indian Trust Accounts forced; Organization of American States' Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Mary and Carrie Dann.
Mi rio, mi agua
Tension is rising between Mexico and the U.S. over the little water left in the drought-stricken Rio Grande.
New desert town no home to the fringe-toed lizard
The planned Joshua Hills development in Southern California could hurt neighboring Joshua Tree National Park and the Coacella Valley Preserve, the only remaining home of the endangered fringe-toed lizard.
Suit may hamstring wildland firefighters
Firefighters are worried that a lawsuit filed against the Forest Service, blaming the agency for the loss of homes near Connor, Mont., may make it harder to use backfires to fight wildfires.
Chinook tribe loses recognition
Chinook tribe loses recognition
The Bureau of Indian Affairs rescinds the official federal status of the Chinook Indian tribe.
A fish is a fish is a fish - or is it?
A draft policy released by the National Marine Fisheries Service in July does little to resolve the controversy over whether hatchery salmon and steelhead deserve equal protection with wild fish.
Bikers waffle on wilderness
In California, the International Mountain Bicycling Association is leery of a new proposal to designate two and half million acres of wilderness in the state.


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