Heard around the West

 

Everyone agrees that environmentalism has been hit out of the ballpark by "Wise Users' and Republicans. But no one knew why we'd whiffed until Glen Martin of the San Francisco Chronicle did an analysis. Deconstructing his article (it used to be called reading between the lines) shows that Greens spend too much time hiking and not enough time watching the sports channel ESPN. As a result, we can't understand our critics, let alone counter them.

Martin starts by quoting William Mulligan, manager of federal relations for Chevron: "It's like a football game. The industrial sector spent years on defense, then the ball was punted; now we're on offense."

Ron Arnold, Mr. Use-Up-The-Public-Lands, is right there with Mulligan, a spit away from the environmentalists' goal line, mixing metaphors but keeping the pressure on:

"The environmentalists kept moving the goal posts farther and farther back. Nothing was ever good enough for them. It's that endless jockeying with the goal posts that has alienated the public."

And Bruce Anderson, the "crusty publisher" of the Anderson Valley Advertiser over in Mendocino County, Calif., tells Martin:

Environmentalists are seen as "a privileged group of people who don't have to hit the ball the same way rural blue-collar people have to hit the ball."

Is there hope for environmentalists, who seem to lack a long-ball hitter, a good passing game, and a grounds crew that knows where the goal posts belong?

Well, it's clearly the last of the ninth and no one is on base. But Michael Sherwood, a lawyer for the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, is at bat, deep in Martin's article. Unfortunately, although he appears to know he's in some sort of sporting event, instead of a bat he's wielding a law book. He tells Martin:

"Right now, the game may depend in large part on looking at the fine points of the law."

Striiiiike Threeeee!

--

She may be in touch with the universe, but she's bucked karma for the moment and is pissing off people on the ground in Santa Fe. Through a tri-party land trade, the Santa Fe Conservation Trust recently managed to turn over to the Forest Service five private inholdings on Atalaya Mountain overlooking Santa Fe - all except one tract belonging to an eccentric and moneyed hold-out: Shirley MacLaine. Rumor says she's hired local attorney Earl Potter, champion of tricky developments, and an architect to design her a house close to the real stars.

--

The devil, they say, is in the details. How does one transfer ownership of several hundred thousand square miles of land in the West to the states? Very carefully, even if you are Rep. James V. Hansen of Utah. Hansen opens his federal lands transfer bill, H.R. 2032, bravely enough:

"Subject to valid existing rights and except as otherwise provided in this Act, the Secretary of the Interior shall offer to transfer all right, title, and interest of the United States in and to all lands and interests in lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management to the State in which such lands and interests are located."

But after that rocket-like start, Hansen turns chicken (there is no other word). He gives the governors two years even to ask for the lands. And no cherry-picking: They have to take all BLM land in their state, or nothing.

Having given them two years to ask for the land, and having said nothing about how quickly the secretary of Interior must respond, Hansen then makes absolutely sure that he and everyone associated with passing H.R. 2032 will be long gone, should a transfer ever happen:

"Any transfer of lands under this Act shall be effective with respect to a State on the date which is 10 years after the date on which the offer to the Governor is accepted."

Hansen's bill is like the national debt: something we are burdening our children with.

--

Edward Abbey wouldn't be surprised: Lake Powell is full of s--. At least that's what the National Park Service says. Cows and 2 million human visitors a year have overwhelmed the 30 million acre-foot pond, and several beaches have been closed to "full body immersion," which the Moab Times-Independent says means swimming.

The problem is the rising lake, which is covering land where human and cattle waste have been buried. The National Park Service asks that visitors use restrooms, portable potties, or a bucket filled with kitty litter.

--

Tourists bored with hiking or rafting the Grand Canyon may soon have a new option. The Arizona Republic reports that a California company is designing an 80-passenger blimp - complete with dance floors, bars and a casino - for commercial flights over the canyon. Tickets would cost $300 to $800 for an eight-hour ride; perhaps that could be won back at the tables.

--

Former Idaho Sen. James McClure, whom environmentalists once saw as an enemy, is now a lobbyist fighting to help the Endangered Species Act. McClure told the Associated Press he certainly doesn't want to gut the act. The change he supports "preserves the protection of the species," but would no longer allow the act to be used for other purposes. The clients who are paying McClure to lobby for a stronger Endangered Species Act include Boise Cascade, Coeur d'Alene Mines Corp., Idaho County Light and Power, Idaho Mining Association, Idaho Power Co. and Idaho's Wilder Irrigation District, according to the Associated Press.

--

The Salt Lake Tribune says the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance has hurt all of conservation. In an outraged Aug. 13 editorial, the daily charges that SUWA over-reacted to the Eco-Challenge, in which 350 people "shed sweat and blood in the sandstone and rivers of southern Utah for 10 days last spring." Except for sweat and blood getting on rocks, southern Utah emerged from the experience better than ever, the Tribune said.

Despite this, SUWA won't acknowledge the wonder of the event.

The paper says it is all part of SUWA's "deceptive extremism," in which it argues for wilderness as a tool for economic development, and then opposes using that wilderness for events like the Eco-Challenge.

--

Forget gambling. The Navajo Nation has a safer bet - the tried and true old blue. According to the Navajo Times, Navajo president Albert Hale just signed an agreement allowing an Arizona clothing company to use the Navajo name on its bluejeans. If the new line, retailing for $40 and $55, does as well as the firm's cheaper Arizona line, the tribe's take could be in the millions.

Heard Around the West invites readers to get involved in the column. Send any tidbits that merit sharing - small-town newspaper clips, personal anecdotes, relevant bumpersticker slogans. The definition remains loose. Heard, HCN, Box 1090, Paonia, CO 81428 or [email protected]

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