Heard Around the West

 

Jim Peacock, president of the Utah Petroleum Association, was apparently kidnapped on his way to a meeting with state officials in September. An impostor was sent on in his place. It is the only way to explain why the head of Utah's free-market petroleum industry, in free-market Utah, would be asking the state for welfare payments with this argument:

"It's a shame to leave crude in the ground simply because it's not profitable to lift it out of the ground," he was quoted in the Sept. 29 Salt Lake Tribune. To get the unprofitable crude out of the ground, Peacock is asking the state for tax and royalty breaks.

What a devilishly clever plot to make Utah's oil industry look as if it didn't understand the nature of capitalism and free markets. We hope the kidnapping is solved soon, and that Mr. Peacock is reunited with his family and with his association.

--

Pat and Mike Boring of Espanola, N.M., write us about a 1,000-pound moose with a yen to see the Land of Enchantment. Somehow, he bulled his way south out of Colorado and showed up one September day near Taos.

The moose probably expected a warm welcome; instead, he got a hot one. State Game and Fish officers, after some vigorous eye rubbing and back-and-forth "Do you see what I see," peppered him with tranquilizing darts. Most bounced off the bull's tough hide. Eventually, he fell into a deep sleep and was shipped back to Colorado.

To J.D. Arnold of Santa Fe, the deportation smacks of hypocrisy. He wrote to the Albuquerque Journal that practically no one is indigenous to New Mexico, especially the Game and Fish Department. "As a community created by many migrants - historical and contemporary - surely we can welcome one wandering moose." Taking up the cause of the "90s, J.D. wrote: "More moose! Fewer Bureaucrats."

--

Although the moose got the headlines, this decade has been dominated by migrating Californians. And though they are non-natives, no one dares sedate them for shipment back home.

But even without help from game and fish departments, the migratory patterns of Californius mobilius may be changing. A heart-broken Roger Reinhardt, who runs the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver, told AP, "We no longer have that huge influx of Californians in the market."

Not huge, but still an influx. In the first half of 1994, 16,000 persons traded in California driver's licenses for Colorado licenses. In the first six months of 1995, a mere 13,000 Californians traded licenses.

Why the drop? The Sept. 20 Los Angeles Times suggests that people flow downhill as well as uphill toward jobs. And California is producing jobs faster than the nation for the first time since 1980. The job trend, combined with another recent first for California - affordable housing - may be pulling some people out of the pricey intermountain West.

--

And then there are the non-economic factors. Californians fleeing earthquakes, floods, fires, Gov. Pete Wilson and multiculturalism may be finding that the land to their east has peculiarities of its own. Take last issue's real estate tip about the log cabin near Roundup, Mont., that the IRS was practically giving away. The only tiny problem was a sort of lien: the heavily armed former owner and his heavily armed friends remained aggressively in residence.

By the time you were reading that note, the Freemen had abandoned the cabin and moved by armed convoy, shadowed by wary police, to a new stronghold near Jordan, Mont.

This is the sort of thing that could give some Californians pause. And they may not be comforted by Garfield County attorney Nick Murnion, who told the Billings Gazette plaintively, "When you have a group like this that doesn't believe they have to follow any laws, it gets to be a real big problem."

--

People who think it is the federal government and not the Freemen who are out of control will find support in the Sept. 27 issue of Westword, a Denver weekly. Writer Steve Jackson describes, kilo-dollar by kilo-dollar, how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the General Services Administration spent more than $250,000 trying to decide if a bunch of rocks in a field near Boulder, Colo., is a sacred medicine wheel. The money went for site visits by archaeologists and Indian tribes as well as engineering studies and the like.

The money-is-no-object approach comes from the feds' desire to build a $54 million, 240,000-square-foot building for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. Sewer lines and an access road would skewer the Rock Feature. Despite the $250,000 - Jackson had to file a Freedom of Information Act request to get the numbers - the government still doesn't know if the Rock Feature is a medicine wheel.

Some decisions have been made. Clair Green of the U.S. General Services Administration has decided that those who think the Rock Feature is sacred, and who also happen to oppose the NOAA building, are "anti-growth, left-wing radicals and new agers."

--

Even as parts of the West spin off into worlds of their own, previous backwaters are being snagged by "progress." In a triumphant news release, the National Park Service announces that, after "nearly a century of marginal to nonexistent communications," Natural Bridges National Monument will now have commercial telephone service.


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]

High Country News Classifieds
  • BACKCOUNTRY FILM FESTIVAL MANAGER
    Boise-based Winter Wildlands Alliance is looking for an experienced and highly motivated individual to organize our annual Backcountry Film Festival and Tour and coordinate additional...
  • LAND CONSERVATION MANAGER
    SUMMARY Leads, administers and manages the land conservation, conservation easement stewardship, and property management activities of the City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department within...
  • CLEAN ENERGY PROGRAM ATTORNEY, NEVADA
    Position Summary: Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is seeking a Staff Attorney who is passionate about Western communities and the protection of the natural environment to...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Deschutes River Conservancy in Bend, Oregon
  • WATER POLICY ANALYST WITH WRA (BOULDER)
    Position Summary: Western Resource Advocates seeks a passionate Water Policy Analyst with knowledge of western water issues to join our Healthy Rivers Team to strengthen...
  • GILA NATIONAL FOREST
    9+ acre inholding. Passive solar strawbale off the grid and next to the Continental Divide Trail in ponderosa pine/doug fir forest at 7400.
  • HIRING BEARS EARS EDUCATION CENTER DIRECTOR
    Conservation nonprofit Friends of Cedar Mesa in Bluff, Utah is hiring an Education Center Director to oversee the operation of the Bears Ears Education Center....
  • PROGRAM MANAGER, SUSTAINING FLOWS
    Friends of the Verde River, Cottonwood, AZ. Apply at https://verderiver.org/employment-opportunities/
  • PROGRAM ASSOCIATE - VERDE RIVER EXCHANGE
    Verde River Exchange - Friends of the Verde River, Cottonwood, AZ. Apply at https://verderiver.org/employment-opportunities/
  • CODE COMPLIANCE OFFICER
    Teton County Planning & Building is hiring! Our ideal candidate is a team-player, a problem-solver, pays attention to detail, and can clearly communicate technical material...
  • ARCHITECTURE DRAFTSPERSON/PROJECT MANAGER
    Studio Architects is seeking a full time Architectural drafts-person/project manager with1-3 years of experience to join our firm. At Studio Architects our mission is to...
  • ASSISTANT MANAGER/TRAINEE, COLORADO RANCH
    needed for 16,000+ acre conservation property in south central Colorado. Qualified candidate would have experience working on a ranch or wilderness property, general forestry/fire management...
  • FARM HAND &/OR NANNY IN ESCALANTE
    Nanny for 18-mnth-old. Yearly salary, vacation, health insurance. Spanish/other foreign-language native spkr prefrrd.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Washington Association of Land Trusts seeks an ED to build on WALTs significant success & to lead the association to new levels of achievement. See...
  • BEAUTIFUL CUSTOM STRAWBALE HOME IN WESTERN COLORADO!
    Secluded, energy efficient Southwestern home on 40 wooded acres. Broker - Rand Porter - United Country Real Colorado Properties. 970-261-1248, $425K
  • FORMER RETREAT CENTER/CONSERVATION PROPERTY FOR SALE
    57 acres in Skull Valley, AZ, 17 miles from Prescott, year-round creek, swimming holes, secluded canyon, hiking/meditation trails, oaks, pines, garden, greenhouse. House, office building,...
  • HISTORIC RANCH HOME W/ 20 ACRES
    Historic 1893 Ranch Headquarters. 4 Bdrm, 3.5 Ba, 4000 ft2. Remodeled 2002. Includes 2 studio apts, stables, arena, workshop, 5 RV hookups. Chirachua & Peloncillo...
  • VICE PRESIDENT OF RETAIL OPERATIONS
    The Vice President of Retail Operations will provide overall leadership and accountability for purchasing, product development, merchandising planning, visual merchandising, retail operational excellence, oversight and...
  • ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
    Grand Staircase Escalante Partners seeks an experienced fundraiser with excellent communication and organizational skills.
  • PROGRAM MANAGER
    position in Phoenix with the Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy.