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Know the West


  In the game of tug-of-war on the Klamath River, farmers just lost a little bit of ground (HCN, 6/23/03: ‘Sound science’ goes sour). In order to keep water in Upper Klamath Lake for two species of endangered suckers, and in the Klamath River for threatened coho salmon, the Bureau of Reclamation has told farmers to cut their water use by about 25 percent.

You don’t need to shoot a condor to kill it; just leaving behind contaminated animal carcasses will do the job (HCN, 2/18/02: Condor program laden with lead). Two independent studies have confirmed that hunters, who abandon 30,000 carcasses in California each year, are exposing endangered California condors to contamination from lead bullets. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now asking hunters to use lead-free ammunition, remove carcasses altogether or to at least remove the lead bullets and surrounding flesh.

The U.S. Department of the Interior has announced the creation of a new appraisal office (HCN, 11/25/02: Report slams BLM's land-exchange process). In the past, the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation and National Park Service have each hired private contractors to handle appraisals and land swaps. But beginning next fall, all appraisals will come out of a centralized office. According to an Interior Department press release, the new office will “restore public confidence” in the agency’s handling of real estate transactions.

Who says historical re-enactments are boring? In June, Indian activist Russell Means crashed the National Park Service’s dedication of a memorial to the Indian soldiers who died at the Battle of Little Big Horn (HCN, 6/9/03: Tribes recognized at Little Bighorn). Means rode up on horseback and commandeered the podium, causing Interior Secretary Gale Norton and Montana governor Judy Martz to leave the stage. Afterward, Fort Peck tribal member Chauncey Whitwright III, one of the organizers of the ceremony, told the Billings Gazette that he needed some “intensive counseling and rest” and is “never volunteering for another thing in my life.”