Saguaro thieves; Cats in precarious spots; Trump highway

Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.

  • COLORADO There’s no emergency like a snowmergency!

    Brooke Warren/High Country News
 

THE WEST
It’s not the bees’ fault if they’re falling down on the job of pollinating an estimated 1,000 species of plants grown for food, beverages, fibers, spices and medicines. Any blame for a drop in performance should be heaped on the variety of insults the fuzzy critters face, including colony collapse disorder, which caused mass die-offs; infestations like mites; poisonous chemicals sprayed on fields; and our compulsive paving of their habitat, reports USA Today. But now, Walmart says it has a technological fix. The corporation believes that — just as human workers are being replaced more and more by automation — the routine jobs that bees do can be turned over to “unmanned aerial vehicles,” otherwise known as drones. In its application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Walmart claimed that drones would be even more versatile than bees: Besides pollinating plants, they could fly over fields to check for pest damage, spray specific plants with pesticides, and in a truly novel exercise, “simply shoo off birds, acting as a next-generation of ‘scarecrows or shiny devices.’ ” Plus, the motorized bees would “use sensors to verify” that pollen was being successfully transmitted from one plant to another. According to Ecowatch, Walmart’s application for six patents noted that drone technology was another way “to get food from farms to store shelves faster and more cheaply to compete with Amazon.com Inc. …” This is not the first time anyone’s tried to automate bee behavior; last year, Japanese researchers successfully demonstrated how a tiny, remote-controlled drone could pollinate flowers. 

ARIZONA
When a black-and-white cat climbed a 30-foot pole and then remained there for a couple of days — too scared to come down — “people in Phoenix lost their minds,” reported Phoenix New Times. A half-million people breathlessly watched the cat’s predicament in real time, as ABC15 live-streamed the show in dramatic style: “Occasionally, (the cat) let a paw dangle off the edge while testing its weight on the wire (and) viewer reactions ran the whole gamut … panic, fury, annoyance, desperation.” So many people called 911 to report the imperiled cat that the fire department was overwhelmed. One viewer on Facebook described “literally having an anxiety attack over this,” while 911 dispatchers fielded at least 100 calls demanding a rescue unit, including frantic callers from New Jersey, Florida and Ohio. Finally, the cat, named Gypsy, was rescued by a neighbor with a kind heart, a ladder and a lot of chutzpah. Owners Jenny Hardin and Ash Morgan, sounding slightly blasé, said they hadn’t realized their pet was stuck on the pole that long, though, given the contrary nature of cats, it was possible: “She comes and goes.” Just two days later, a different Phoenix feline, Princess Poppy, got herself rescued from a different pole. Apparently, all the kitties now want their 15 minutes of fame. 

CALIFORNIA
Regulators can be excruciatingly slow when it comes to protecting California’s most essential but fragile asset — its water. After a 20-month investigation, the state determined that each year, for 71 years now, the water-bottling company Nestlé Waters North America has been getting away with illegally pumping 62 million gallons of water from the San Bernardino National Forest. Forest News, the publication of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, reports that the state water board’s investigation found that the company “may only have a right to extract about 8.5 million gallons each year.” Nestlé, which was ordered to immediately cease its “unauthorized diversions,” has been given 60 days to come up with a compliance plan.

UTAH
Southern Utah News, which covers the surprisingly diverse southern Utah town of Kanab, recently ran one of its livelier “Letters to the Editor” pages. Four of the eight writers fulminated against Rebublican state Rep. Mike Noel’s ill-fated proposal to name a national parks highway after President Donald Trump. One writer noted that the Kanab city council was considering a name change for the road to the local landfill, so he recommended calling it “the Donald J. Trump Memorial Landfill Parkway.” Another resident’s suggestion: the “Trump Dump Non-Scenic Road.”

ARIZONA
Rangers patrolling the perimeter of Saguaro National Park in Arizona occasionally come across a big hole in the ground, signifying that, once again, a thief has excavated and carted off a giant saguaro. Vandalism is such a serious problem that park staffers recently spent $3,000 implanting microchips in 1,000 specimens of the iconic, long-lived cacti along the most accessible edges of the park. Sadly, the chips lack tracking devices and don’t broadcast a signal, so the only way to find out if a particular saguaro was nicked from the park is to scan it using a specialized reader, reports Cronkite News. Still, said chief ranger Ray O’Neil, “it’s a deterrent.” It would be definitely embarrassing if a park ranger stopped by your front yard, scanned your saguaro and loudly announced: “Gotcha! Get a backhoe, this saguaro is moving back home!”

High Country News Classifieds
  • 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,...
  • ARIZONA PUBLIC LANDS ORGANIZER
    Title: Public Lands Organizer About the Arizona Wildlife Federation (AWF) The AWF is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating, inspiring, and assisting individuals and organizations...
  • 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.
  • ROADS END CABIN NEAR YELLOWSTONE
    Vaulted ceilings, two fireplaces, two bedrooms, loft, jetted tub, wifi. Forest, mountain views. Wildlife. [email protected]
  • ACCOUNTING CLERK
    Our director is seeking to employ the services of an Accounting Clerk to assist with various accounting and administrative tasks. This is a great opportunity...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COMMUNITY RADIO PROJECT
    Community Radio Project, Cortez, CO (KSJD & the Sunflower Theatre). Visit ksjd.org and click on the Executive Director search link. CRP is an EOE.