Heard around the West

 

The Montana legislature is determined to take that state's clean water. It passed two bills that allow degradation of Montana's streams and lakes. The bills were pushed by mining, ranching, logging and real estate. Developers succeeded in loosening septic tank standards for new homes.

That could spell death for the purity of Montana's immense Flathead Lake, which has been a magnet for real estate development. The April 13 Billings Gazette urged Gov. Marc Racicot to veto the bills: "Don't let the people down, governor. Keep Montana's waters clean." (P.S.: He let the public down.)

On a brighter note, the Billings Gazette reported that the Department of State Lands killed the proposed Montco coal mine in eastern Montana by refusing to extend the deadline for the company to begin mining coal at the site, east of Birney. The mine was associated with the proposed Tongue Creek Railroad. Members of Native Action and the Northern Cheyenne tribe and the Northern Plains Resource Council were pleased by the action, and praised commissioner Bud Clinch.

--

The Colorado ski industry has taken a drubbing this year (it was down 7 percent in March), in part because skiers can't get to the slopes due to avalanches, snowy roads and jack-knifed trailer trucks. The situation is partly due to a lack of snowplow operators on Interstate 70 because Colorado can't pay its road crews enough to live in ski country. The ski industry, according to the April 20 Denver Post, is determined to do something about the low pay and lack of housing for plow operators.

Puntos de Vista of Santa Fe, which publishes "as soon as we raise the money for the next issue," reports that the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union is attempting to organize service workers in Santa Fe. The activist newsletter said that 50 hotel managers from Santa Fe and Albuquerque met in December to try to figure out how to counter the organizing.

--

On the Boise National Forest, the April 5 Idaho Falls Post Register reports, the agency set fire to 1,400 acres of overgrown timber to clear out brush and invading trees choking ponderosa pine forests. They hope to burn 20,000 to 30,000 acres a year for the next two decades to begin to save ponderosa pine forests from brush and subsequent wildfires. The agency was forced to forget about Smokey Bear by a 1992 fire, in which 256,000 acres of brush-infested forest were burned in the Foothills Fire. John McCarthy, conservation director for the Idaho Conservation League, praised the controlled burn policy as "a real positive change."

--

While the Republican revolution rolls on, opposition is gathering.

In Arizona, state Senate Democrats threatened to filibuster a bill to yank citizens' right to sue to compel the state to enforce clean-air and clean-water laws. After the threat, the Arizona Republic (4/5/95) said Republican leaders found a number of its members also opposed the bill, which has now been amended to remove offending language.

--

Major environmental groups are spending up to $3 million on ads opposing takings and anti-regulatory bills passed by the House. The efforts focus on the states of 10 swing senators; the theme is that we are heading back to the past, with the ads illustrated with footage showing the Cuyahoga River burning its way through Cleveland and factories belching smoke, according to Seattle's Post-Intelligencer.

Twenty national environmental groups hope to present an Environmental Bill of Rights, with 1 million signatures, to House Speaker Newt Gingrich after July 4.

Gingrich may be wasting his time on takings. He should be repealing the laws of physics. According to AP, insurance companies are worried about tremendous losses they have suffered from major storms since 1987, and fear what future atmospheric unrest will bring. Insurance executives joined environmentalists in Berlin at a global warming conference to push for reductions of greenhouse gases.

Even with Lloyds of London showing a bit of green, counterattacks pall before attacks. The House Budget Committee voted to sink the Land and Water Conservation Fund, used since the 1960s to purchase open space. It had been squeezed down under Clinton to $200 million a year. Now, the Budget Committee wants to do an uncompensated takings on the fund to save $939 million over the next five years. The recommendation for the five-year spending moratorium went to the House Appropriations Committee.

- Ed Marston and staff

High Country News Classifieds
  • COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER
    San Juan Citizens Alliance, a leading grassroots conservation advocacy organization for over 30 years, seeks a passionate, dynamic, organized, and technology-savvy communications professional to help...
  • OPERATIONS AND FINANCE MANAGER
    Great Old Broads for Wilderness, a national grassroots organization led by women, seeks a resourceful, self-motivated, team player to serve as Operations and Finance Manager....
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    ORGANIZATIONAL BACKGROUND Colorado Canyons Association (CCA) fosters community stewardship, education and awareness of our National Conservation Lands with a focus on Dominguez-Escalante, Gunnison Gorge and...
  • WYOMING STATE DIRECTOR
    Save the World ... or at least a piece of it! Join The Nature Conservancy and make a tangible and lasting impact by creating a...
  • PROGRAM DIRECTOR FOR AN ENVIRONMENTAL ADVOCACY NON-PROFIT NEAR YOSEMITE
    Demanding, but rewarding, advocacy work on forest, water, wildland, and wildlife issues. Applicants should have experience dealing with land management planning, public speaking, grassroots organizing,...
  • NEW AGRARIAN APPRENTICESHIP
    Quivira Coalition's 2020 New Agrarian Apprenticeships in Regenerative Ranching and Farming -Apprenticeships run 4/20 - 11/20 Applications accepted 10/15/19 - 12/1/19 NAP partners with skilled...
  • PHILANTHROPY DIRECTOR AT WILDERNESS WORKSHOP
    Wilderness Workshop seeks a full time Philanthropy Director to raise funds for our team. Learn more: www.wildernessworkshop.org
  • EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT WITH WESTERN RESOURCE ADVOCATES
    Western Resource Advocates (WRA) seeks an enthusiastic and organized problem solver to join our growing team as an Executive Assistant. The Executive Assistant is instrumental...
  • WYOMING OUTDOOR COUNCIL
    Two positions: Development Director OR Development Writer, Communications Director. Full job descriptions at https://wyomingoutdoorcouncil.org/careers.
  • CONSERVATION PROJECT MANAGER
    Great Land Trust seeks to hire a Conservation Project Manager. Position is full-time, based in Anchorage, Alaska. First review of applications will be on October...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Eagle Valley Land Trust Executive Director Position Description Summary of Position: The Executive Director, working with and reporting to the Board of Directors, has overall...
  • FINANCE & LOGISTICS COORDINATOR
    The Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, founded in 1928 as an independent nonprofit organization, is a biological field station located near Crested Butte, Colorado. Our primary...
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    See Full Job Description
  • DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR
    Position: Development Coordinator Responsible to: Executive Director Time Commitment: 15-20 hours per week, or as otherwise agreed upon General Description: The Development Coordinator assists the...
  • EDUCATION CENTER MANAGER
    Friends of Cedar Mesa seeks a full-time Education Manager for the Bears Ears Education Center to provide day to day operational and administrative oversight. See...
  • TROUT UNLIMITED SCP SOUTHWEST REGIONAL DIRECTOR
    Seeking to hire an experienced advocate/manager to oversee the organization's sportsmen/women-driven advocacy in Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. Open until filled
  • PROGRAM MANAGER
    for northern AZ collaborative conservation ranchlands group
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Partners are seeking an experienced and energetic Executive Director who is excited about the opportunity to lead our growing organization! A full description of the...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    High Country News Seeks an Executive Director to advance its mission, grow its audience and influence, and strategically and sustainably guide the organization through a...
  • 2 PROPERTIES ON THE WESTERN EDGE OF THE GILA WILDERNESS
    Organic farm, hot springs, San Francisco River runs through both. [email protected]