Heard around the West


The Oregon Natural Resources Council has recruited 40 or so "cow cops" to observe public land grazing, and some ranchers are not pleased. In a letter to federal agencies, the Grant County Stockgrowers' Association said it "will regard so-called inspection of our allotments as an act of trespass' and call in real cops to arrest the trespassers. The Wallowa County Chieftain suggests that ranchers welcome the "cops' by showing them how healthy the range is. The paper also suggests that ONRC's force monitor recreation activity in Hells Canyon, where recreation use, the paper states, is often out of control. "Get out your camcorders, ladies and gentlemen," concludes the Chieftain, "it could be an interesting summer."

A foe of the federal government who calls himself the "White Knight" has laid claim to a portion of Idaho's Nez Perce National Forest. Thus far, forest employees have discovered 10 signs posted about 25 miles east of Grangeville reading in part: "I, ..., alias The White Knight, by the virtues of god, nature, man and the constitution of this nation do hereby exercise my rights of birth and lay claim to the following herein described land ..." Forest employees also discovered a silver mailbox with a red button and a sign saying: "Push at your own risk." They didn't push, AP reports.

In the wake of the Unabomber's killing of a California timber industry official, Forest Service employees in that state are a little skittish, according to writer June Braxton Little of Greenville, Calif. When UPS delivered a heavy package to the agency's Millford district office on May 5, receptionist Elfrun Trail became suspicious because the address was partly typed, partly handwritten and filled with misspellings. In response to her call, an army demolition team blew the package to smithereens. What rained down on the deserted hillside? Bits of a Forest Service study: Sustaining Ecosystems: A Conceptual Framework. The sender was a Forest Service office which had used a contract mailer to address the packages. Edgy agency employees from Denver to Albuquereque also called for help when they received the suspicious packages but perhaps because they weren't near an Army base, only the Millford package was treated quite so roughly.

Parents often tell children that their eyes are bigger than their stomachs. Critics say the timber industry may have the same trouble. After pushing Congress and the Forest Service to put up huge salvage sales in the Northern Rockies, the industry, beset by dropping timber prices, is having trouble buying those sales. For example, on May 12, the Boise National Forest put up six separate sales totalling 66 million board-feet. Each of the six sales went for the minimum bid. Then, on June 1, in a second sale, only two of six offerings attracted any bids at all. John McCarthy of the Idaho Conservation League in Boise charges that the timber companies colluded to buy the first six sales to show that they really do have an appetite for salvage sales, and then ignored the second, unpublicized sale. Meanwhile, President Clinton has promised to veto a congressional bill that would exempt salvage timber sales from environmental laws.

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