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Know the West

The Latest Bounce

  New Mexico will continue to uphold two of its oldest — and bloodiest — traditions. State Sen. Steve Komadina, R-Corrales, introduced a bill earlier this year that would have outlawed cockfighting and dogfighting. But the state’s Senate Conservation Committee rejected the bill, upholding New Mexico’s standing as one of only two states in the nation where cockfighting remains legal. (HCN, 10/9/00: New Mexico's secret sport: Cockfighting in the land of enchantment).

In February, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the western sage grouse will not be protected under the Endangered Species Act (HCN, 2/4/02: Last dance for the sage grouse?). In May 2001, the agency acknowledged that the Columbia Basin population of the birds should be protected. But now, listing has been put off "due to higher priority listing actions."

Mormons re-enacting pioneer treks along historical trails in Wyoming may be reined in (HCN, 9/30/02: This land holds a story the church won't tell). To deal with the growing numbers of handcart pullers across public lands, the Bureau of Land Management is preparing a plan that will set limits for the number of trekkers, provide public toilets and limit motorized support vehicles.

As this winter’s snowpack disappoints skiers across the West, reservoir levels continue to drop (HCN, 8/19/02: The Great Western Apocalypse). Lake Powell, on the Arizona-Utah border, is 87 feet below the high-water mark — its lowest level since 1973. Reservoirs in Idaho’s Upper Snake River system are at 65 percent of average, Colorado’s McPhee Reservoir is at 58 percent and the Rio Grande’s Elephant Butte Reservoir is at 29 percent.

Colorado continues to seek creative solutions to keep its Front Range cities flush with water. The state Senate’s Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee approved $500,000 to study the "Big Straw" and $190,000 to study the feasibility of "logging for water" (HCN, 9/16/02: Drought unearths a water dinosaur) and (HCN, 12/23/02: Logging for water creates a buzz).