The Latest Bounce

  Work on “the last great federal dam” is under way: The Bureau of Reclamation has begun building the pumping plant for the Animas-La Plata Project outside of Durango, Colo. (HCN, 8/27/01: A-LP gets federal A-OK). The station will pump Animas River water 510 feet uphill and two miles west to a reservoir site in Ridges Basin.

There are some happy fish in Washington’s Goldsborough Creek. Removal of a dam in 2001 has allowed fish to swim back into 25 miles of the river. Since the $4.8 million dam removal, biologists have been finding high numbers of coho and chum salmon and cutthroat trout there for the first time since 1885 (HCN, 9/24/01: River of dreams).

Someone has shot and killed another Mexican gray wolf in Arizona’s Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest (HCN, 1/29/01" A slow comeback for Mexican wolves). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Center for Biological Diversity are both offering rewards for information on the shooting, which is the 11th since the pack was reintroduced in 1998.

Jawless-fish lovers were disappointed in April when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refused to protect four species of lamprey under the Endangered Species Act (HCN, 3/17/03: Parasite could help save salmon). Officials with the agency told conservationists that there’s no money for listing this year.

In early March, the Energy Department issued a “stop work” order to Bechtel SAIC, the lead contractor at Yucca Mountain’s nuclear-storage facility, after a team of private auditors revealed technical flaws in the Quality Assurance program (HCN, 10/28/02: Nuclear dump may be supersized). But work never stopped; instead, the Energy Department removed three of the four auditors from their positions.

The Bush administration’s plan to outsource federal jobs is meeting some high-level resistance (HCN, 12/9/02: The push is on to privatize federal jobs). The superintendent at Glacier National Park has spoken out against privatization, and in an April memo to Interior Department officials, Fran Mainella, director of the National Park Service, points out that the cost of studying outsourcing is so expensive that it will have “serious consequences” for visitor services and seasonal operations.
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