The Latest Bounce


Federal forest boss Dale Bosworth's complaints about citizen appeals of forest projects hit a crescendo in mid-September, yet appeals continue to pop up across the West. In Colorado, 11 groups appealed the White River Forest Plan, released in June (HCN, 7/8/02: White river). This time, Bosworth can't lay all the blame on environmentalists: Appellants range from Vail Resorts to the Sierra Club to the Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition.

Wyoming's Game and Fish Commission, which plans to take over wolf management from the feds, isn't very wolf-friendly. The commission has suggested dual classification for the gray wolf: In Shoshone and Bridger-Teton national forest wilderness areas, wolves would be hunted as "trophy game," while in the rest of the state, wolves would remain a "predator species" that could be shot and killed anytime by anyone (HCN, 5/27/02: Wolf at the door).

For the second time this year, Judge James Parker has ordered the Bureau of Reclamation to stop shirking its duties and release water for the silvery minnow in New Mexico's Rio Grande (HCN, 7/08/02: Southwest drought desiccates fish before farmers). Environmentalists sued the Bureau and Fish and Wildlife Service when both agencies sidestepped the issue of a potentially dry riverbed this fall. The Bureau refused to wrangle water from irrigators and turned down a loan of water from Albuquerque, while, in a suspicious show of solidarity, the Service released a September opinion that no longer advocates releasing water from upstream reservoirs.

Interior Secretary Gale Norton and Assistant Secretary Neal McCaleb have been held in contempt of court for mishandling Indian trust accounts (HCN, 2/4/02: Indian trust is anything but). U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ruled Sept. 17 the two committed fraud and litigation misconduct. Several years ago, Lamberth held then-Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt in contempt. Thousands of Indians are still waiting for their money.

And, in a stunning display of inhumanity, Cochise County deputies in Arizona carried out the final act of humiliation for a Mexican woman who died of exposure while crossing into the U.S. (HCN, 10/9/00: The hunters and the hunted: The Arizona-Mexico border turns into the 21st century frontier). The officers strapped Janet Mata Mendez's decomposing body to the hood of a sheriff's vehicle and drove into the town of Bisbee. They said they didn't have room for Ms. Mendez inside the vehicle.

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