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Know the West

The Latest Bounce


Cattle rustling is still a problem in the Four Corners, according to the New Mexico Livestock Board. The board has proposed a joint-powers agreement between the Navajo Nation and New Mexico that would prosecute thieves on the 17 million-acre reservation, where stolen cattle are often hidden and then sold on the black market (HCN, 8/19/02: Corruption and tragic history paralyze range reform on the Navajo reservation).

Thanks to a court decision by a recent Bush appointee, Vice President Dick Cheney won't have to reveal the potentially damning details of his Energy Plan. On Dec. 9, U.S. District Judge John Bates dismissed a lawsuit filed against the White House by Congress' General Accounting Office. The GAO had sued to take a peek at Cheney's records, including notes of his meetings with oil and gas industry executives (HCN, 6/4/01: An energy plan as solid as natural gas).

Circle Four Farms has drafted plans for an innovative "anaerobic digester" plant that could gobble up and clean the waste of more than a million hogs at its farms in southwestern Utah (HCN, 7/8/02: Big stink over factory farms). If it works, the digester could light the way toward swine cleanup across the nation.

Farmers in California's Imperial Valley have dug in their heels. On Dec. 9, the Imperial Irrigation District refused to sell water to thirsty San Diego - a sale that is central to California's mandate to suck less water from the Colorado River (HCN, 9/16/02: The Royal Squeeze). This, despite efforts by Interior Secretary Gale Norton to sweeten the deal by offering farmers a quarter-million acre-feet of Colorado River water to finish off the irrigation season - and threats from Norton's office to cut California's access to the Colorado by 15 percent by year's end if a deal isn't cut.

This year, Oregon's Klamath Basin farmers got their water, and now they'll get their cash, too. Congress has approved a bill to reimburse farmers $4 million for fees they paid the Bureau of Reclamation in 2001, when their water deliveries were cut short in favor of endangered fish (HCN, 8/13/01: No refuge in the Klamath Basin).