After three years of negotiations, wilderness in Idaho’s Owyhee Canyonlands is one step closer to reality (HCN, 12/8/03: Riding the Middle Path). On Oct. 22, the Owyhee Initiative voted 8-0 to forward its 500,000-acre wilderness proposal to the Owyhee County Commission, which quickly sent it on to Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho. A spokesman for Crapo says the senator will introduce a bill to Congress by the time the next Congress arrives in Washington, D.C., in January.
California’s CALFED program got new life
breathed into it on Oct. 25, when President Bush signed a
bill authorizing $395 million in federal funds over six years for
the joint federal-state project (HCN, 9/30/02: Delta Blues). The
program is intended to restore the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and
ensure the reliability of water supplies for millions of
Californians; the new bill includes $90 million for environmental
restoration projects, and money for studying the feasibility of
enlarging several reservoirs.
All that oil and
gas drilling is helping pump up economies in the Rocky
Mountain states, which are receiving hefty dividends from the
federal government (HCN, 9/27/04: Energy companies rush the West).
Wyoming got the biggest check — $564 million — for
royalties from oil, gas and coal production on public land during
the year ending Sept. 30. New Mexico got more than $364 million;
Colorado earned $80.5 million, a record for the state; Utah
received more than $69 million; and Montana got $30.2 million.
The National Wildlife Federation has sued the U.S.
Department of Agriculture for playing fast and loose with
the rules for the federal Conservation Reserve Program
(HCN, 8/2/04: The Greening of the Plains). The program pays farmers
to take land out of production to conserve water, soil or wildlife
habitat. But the Wildlife Federation says that on reserve lands in
seven states, including Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Utah and
Washington, officials are allowing farmers to cut hay or graze
cattle during bird-nesting season.