Colorado wants to follow Utah’s lead on wilderness rollbacks. In a May 15 letter, Greg Walcher, head of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, told Interior Secretary Gale Norton that his state would like to settle counties’ claims to roads across federal lands (HCN, 5/12/03: Backcountry road deal runs over wilderness). Walcher made it clear that Colorado will stand behind RS 2477 claims, even if the so-called roads are impassable to four-wheel vehicles, or cross wilderness study areas, national parks and national wildlife refuges.

Federal officials have shot their first reintroduced Mexican gray wolf. Alpha female 592, captured in 2001 after killing calves, had been re-released last month into New Mexico’s Gila Wilderness (HCN, 1/29/01: A slow comeback for Mexican wolves). But after the wolf killed three more calves in Catron County at the end of May, a member of the federal-state wolf management team shot and killed her.

In British Columbia, Hope has died. Hope was a northern spotted owl chick, born in 2002, and thought to be the last survivor of her generation in the province. Biologists captured her last fall, and kept her safe through the winter. She was released into the wild in April, but died of starvation within five weeks. Canadian officials say there may be as few as 30 breeding pairs of spotted owls remaining in the province (HCN, 3/12/01: Will logging save the spotted owl?).

Future oil and gas drilling could tap big trouble at New Mexico’s Waste Isolation Pilot Project — so says the Environmental Evaluation Group, an independent scientific oversight group (HCN, 4/12/99: Nuclear waste dump opens). Researchers found that waste levels are higher and more concentrated than the Energy Department had assumed. If oil and gas drillers punctured storage drums, they concluded, the accident would release twice the amount of nuclear waste the department had predicted.

Environmentalists lost a round in the fight against oil and gas drilling in the Powder River Basin (HCN, 10/28/02: Judges rule gas leases are illegal). In early June, a U.S. District judge reversed an Interior Board of Land Appeals decision and reinstated three oil and gas leases that the Bureau of Land Management had sold to a private company.
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