The Latest Bounce

  A federal judge has kicked President Clinton’s Roadless Rule to the curb: In mid-July, U.S. District Judge Clarence A. Brimmer ruled that the U.S. Forest Service violated the Wilderness Act and the National Environmental Policy Act by declaring 58.5 million acres off-limits to road building, mining and logging (HCN, 7/30/01: Bush fails to defend roadless rule). Environmentalists are appealing the decision, and the case will now go to the notoriously conservative 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

New Mexico is calling off its coyote hunt: Since 2000, the state’s Game and Fish Department has killed coyotes in the hopes of boosting mule deer herds (HCN, 2/3/03: New lands boss takes the reins). But after spending almost $300,000, biologists have found that fawn numbers haven’t increased, so the department is rethinking its predator control program.

Interior Secretary Gale Norton can’t be held accountable for botching American Indian trust accounts. The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., has overturned U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth’s decision to hold Norton in contempt of court. The three-panel appeals court also overturned Lamberth’s decision to appoint a court employee to monitor reform of the Indian trust accounts (HCN, 5/12/03: Missing Interior money: Piles or pennies?).

The fringe-toed lizard can rest easy: Richard Oliphant is ditching his plans to develop Joshua Hills, a 7,000 home development on 9,000 acres of dunes and desert palms between California’s Coachella Valley Preserve and Joshua Tree National Park (HCN, 8/19/02: New desert town no home to the fringe-toed lizard). Environmentalists had opposed the development, saying it would drain the area’s water supply and destroy the last of the lizard’s habitat.

Just because you blow the whistle, doesn’t mean anyone will hear: The watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility says that calls to the federal agency in charge of investigating government wrongdoing are on the rise (HCN, 6/23/03: 'Sound science' goes sour). But the backlog of cases at the Office of the Special Counsel, which is required to respond to disclosures within 15 days, has more than doubled since 2001, and more than two-thirds of those cases are still pending after six months.
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