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Know the West


  California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, R, says he won't ask the federal government to uphold the Clinton-era roadless rule in his state (HCN, 8/16/04:Feds pass roadless headache to states). In July, the Bush administration gave governors until January 2006 to request that the governnment keep the rule in place in their respective states. Meanwhile, Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal, D, wrote Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth that the administration is trying "to shift the Forest Service's responsibility for land use planning to the state — without shifting any authority of funding." Still, Freudenthal says he's no fan of the original roadless rule, either.

Meanwhile, California Attorney General Bill Lockyer has blasted the Forest Service's revised Sierra Nevada Plan, which nearly triples the amount of logging allowed under the plan's original incarnation (HCN, 3/1/04: Old-growth trees to fall in the Sierra). Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth approved the amended plan on Nov. 18. The following day, Lockyer said his office will sue the agency if it allows the plan to go into effect.

Arizona's Indian tribes will be flush with water, thanks to congressional approval of the Arizona Water Settlements Act on Nov. 17. The act sets aside 650,000 acre-feet of Arizona's share of the Colorado River for tribes, and specifically assigns 102,000 acre-feet — enough for more than 400,000 people — to the Gila River Indian Community (HCN, 3/15/04: The New Water Czars). The law includes some $445 million in federal funds, primarily for Indian water projects; it also knocks $650 million off the amount Arizona owes to the federal government for the Central Arizona Project, which brings water from the Colorado River to Phoenix and Tucson.

Also on Nov. 17, Congress approved the Lincoln County Conservation, Recreation, and Development Act, which designates 14 new wilderness areas in eastern Nevada, turns some 90,000 acres of federal land over to the county, and establishes a corridor across public land for a controversial pipeline that would channel rural groundwater to Las Vegas (HCN, 9/13/04: A water-and-wilderness bill kicks up dust in Nevada). A last-minute addition to the bill requires the U.S. Geological Survey to conduct a $6 million study on eastern Nevada aquifers by May 2008.