The Latest Bounce


If a protected tree falls in an Oregon national forest, the Forest Service makes a sound — oops. The agency accidentally included about 15 acres of a designated botanical area when it marked the boundaries of the Fiddler timber sale, part of the controversial Biscuit Fire salvage project (HCN, 5/16/05: Unsalvageable). Loggers cut nearly 300 trees, many of them rare Brewer spruce found only in southwest Oregon and northwest California. One large stump measured three feet in diameter; the rings showed it was 234 years old, says the nonprofit Siskiyou Project.

California, New Mexico and Oregon are fighting for their right to be roadless. They’ve gone to court to challenge the Bush administration’s repeal of the Roadless Area Conservation Rule. Meanwhile, the Forest Service will dole out some financial help to any state that plans to petition for protection of its roadless forests — but the "couple million" Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey says he'll offer probably won’t stretch very far. New Mexico, with 1.6 million roadless acres, has asked for $500,000 to complete the petition process (HCN, 7/25/05: Western governors wary of roadless forest mess).

Planning a fish fry? Don’t head to the Great Salt Lake, even though Utah is one of only two Western states that haven’t warned fishermen against eating their catch because of high mercury levels (HCN, 8/8/05: The Great Salt Lake's dirty little secret). Great Salt Lakekeeper wants to test for mercury in 2,000 fish from the lake’s watershed. But the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources won’t give the nonprofit group the necessary permit, saying that state agencies are planning their own testing and private efforts could prove "counterproductive."

The federal Bureau of Land Management admits its new grazing regulations might need a little more work. In June, the agency published revised grazing rules, rewriting its own scientists’ reports to say that the new rules won’t hurt wildlife, water, or other parts of the natural environment (HCN, 7/25/05: New grazing rules ride on doctored science). The nonprofit Western Watersheds Project sued, and now the agency says it will complete a supplemental environmental impact statement to "fully consider all comments and views."


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