Heard Around the West

  • Gas pump patriotism in Big Sky Country

    Ray Vinkey
 

CALIFORNIA

It had to happen: Orange County is running out of rural land for gigantic housing developments. “We don’t have any dirt left,” a real estate analyst told the Los Angeles Times. There are still plans for up to 42,000 homes and condos on about 54 square miles. But the easy paving-over is over, and the land that’s left is “both tough to build on and beloved by area residents.” The paper predicts fierce battles in California’s bastion of build-out.

ARIZONA

“Cage cattle, not people,” says Kent Knudson, who’s started a national crusade against cows legally roaming at will. Knudson, who lives near Snowflake in east-central Arizona, was bringing his mother home from the hospital when he found a couple of dozen cows filling his yard. He later told Canada’s Western Producer newspaper: “The cattle were in the process of attacking me,” so he took a .22 rifle and killed one of the cows. Knudson was charged with a felony and could get a two-year sentence and a fine of up to $150,000. But his campaign against open-range laws has won support from neighbors such as Gene Bull, who told the Arizona Republic that “the law now gives cows the right to eat up the entire township, and I have to put up a $6,000 fence just for protection.”

NATION

“Hug a logger, not a tree” is the rallying cry of a Montana organization called the League of Rural Voters. Its president, Bruce Vincent, told The Wall Street Journal how frustrated he’d become trying to teach kids about the importance of work using natural resources: “If they (children) were told that logging would hurt Alfred the Wolf, they’d forget everything I said.” So Vincent created a program that he hopes will compete with what he calls the green agenda and its clever use of charismatic megafauna such as wolves and grizzlies. Debuting in 125 middle school classrooms this fall, his Provider Pals program brings in for “adoption” a logger, fisherman, miner, farmer or rancher. Each visits a classroom several times a year. Vincent, the son of a logger, has big bucks behind him: Ford Motor Co. is giving his effort $1.5 million over three years.

NORTHWEST

Where is Ripley’s “Believe it or Not” when we need it? Karl Breheim, who lives near Spokane, Wash., says a timber sale near Galice, Ore., must be stopped because it threatens an endangered species: Bigfoot. Breheim says he was in the sale area seven years ago and found a huge footprint, 50 small trees broken off some 8 to 9 feet above the ground, and an apparent bite mark on a toolbox he’d left on the ground. Now, he wants the indentation tested for possible DNA evidence of the legendary ape-man. “You talk about Bigfoot, people think you’re crazy,” he told the Daily Courier. But Breheim said his aim is to save the old-growth forest where Bigfoot makes his home.

WASHINGTON

DNA testing rode to the rescue of rancher Mike McKinley in southern Spokane County, after someone stole seven of his unbranded calves. McKinley had a suspect, he told the Spokesman Review, a man “who had seven calves suddenly turn up at his place.” But how to prove it? McKinley got permission to pluck some hairs from the calves, and then sent them for testing to the University of California, Berkeley. The results: Five calves in his neighbor’s pen belonged to McKinley’s cows, and the evidence convinced the rustler to plead guilty. His sentence, however, was only 30 days in jail. The rancher noted — perhaps in jest — that a century ago, “I could have taken a rope and hung him on that tree over there ... .”

COLORADO

Prairie dog colonies that stand in the way of development always seem to provoke passion. In Grand Junction, a reader of the Daily Sentinel took the side of the “unusual and adorable critters,” saying, “I, too, am willing to join the cause to eliminate developers to save prairie dogs.” But another reader rejoined: “I will gladly bring them (150 white-tailed prairie dogs) to you free of charge and they can live with you and your family. What’s your address?”

Betsy Marston is new media editor of High Country News in Paonia, Colo. Tips of Western oddities are always appreciated and often shared in this column.

High Country News Classifieds
  • DEVELOPMENT AND OPERATIONS COORDINATOR
    Development & Operations Coordinator Terms: 1.0 FTE (full-time), Salary DOE ($45,000 - $55,000) Benefits: Paid Time Off (12-24 days/year depending on tenure), Paid Holidays (10/year),...
  • GUIDE TO WESTERN NATIONAL MONUMENTS
    NEW BOOK showcases 70 national monuments across the western United States. Use "Guide10" for 10% off at cmcpress.org
  • CARBON RANCH PLANNER
    The Quivira Coalition (www.quiviracoaltion.org) is a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic, and social health through education,...
  • EDUCATION AND OUTREACH DIRECTOR
    Education and Outreach Program Director The Quivira Coalition (www.quiviracoaltion.org) is a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic,...
  • WESTERN DIVISION DIRECTOR OF FIELD PROGRAMS
    DEADLINE TO APPLY: October 29, 2021 LOCATION FLEXIBLE (WESTERN HUB CITY PREFERRED) Overview The Land Trust Alliance is the voice of the land trust community....
  • COMMUNICATIONS AND OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Communications and Outreach Associate Position Opening: www.westernlaw.org/communications-outreach-associate ************************************************* Location: Western U.S., ideally in one of WELC's existing office locations (Santa Fe or Taos, NM, Helena,...
  • FREELANCE GRAPHIC DESIGNER & PROJECT COORDINATOR (REMOTE)
    High Country News (HCN) is seeking a contract Graphic Designer & Project Coordinator to design promotional, marketing and fund-raising assets and campaigns, and project-manage them...
  • FILM AND DIGITAL MEDIA: ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF INDIGENOUS MEDIA, CULTURAL SOVEREIGNTY AND DECOLONIZATION (INITIAL REVIEW 12.1.21)
    Film and Digital Media: Assistant Professor of Indigenous Media, Cultural Sovereignty and Decolonization (Initial Review 12.1.21) Position overview Position title: Assistant Professor - tenure-track Salary...
  • REAL ESTATE SPECIALIST
    To learn more about this position and to apply please go to the following URL.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    "More Data, Less Digging" Find groundwater and reduce excavation costs!
  • RARE CHIRICAHUA RIPARIAN LAND FOR SALE
    40 acres: 110 miles from Tucson: native trees, grasses: birder's heaven::dark sky/ borders state lease & National forest/5100 ft/13-16 per annum rain
  • CENTRAL PARK CULTURAL RESOURCE SPECIALIST
    Agency: Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Salary Range: $5,203 - $7,996 Position Title: Central Park Cultural Resource Specialist Do you have a background in Archaeology...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    Come live and work in one of the most beautiful places in the world! As our Staff Attorney you will play a key role in...
  • ARIZONA GRAZING CLEARINGHOUSE
    Dedicated to preventing the ecological degradation caused by livestock grazing on Arizona's public lands, and exposing the government subsidies that support it.
  • OPERATIONS MANAGER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo (friendsoftheinyo.org) is seeking a new Operations Manager. The Operations Manager position is a full-time permanent position that reports directly...
  • WATER RIGHTS BUREAU CHIEF
    Water Rights Bureau Chief, State of Montana, DNRC, Water Resources Division, Helena, MT Working to support and implement the Department's mission to help ensure that...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Amargosa Conservancy (AC), a conservation nonprofit dedicated to standing up for water and biodiversity in the Death Valley region, seeks an executive director to...
  • DEVELOPMENT & OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Southeast Alaska Conservation Council is hiring! Who We Are: The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC) is a small grassroots nonprofit based out of Juneau, Alaska,...
  • DESERT LANDS ORGANIZER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo seeks a Desert Lands Organizer to assist with existing campaigns that will defend lands in the California desert, with...
  • IDAHO CONSERVATION LEAGUE
    Want to help preserve Idaho's land, water, and air for future generations? Idaho Conservation League currently has 3 open positions. We are looking for a...