A tracker's guide


"Competing Visions of the New West," an ambitious symposium on environment, land use and alternative economic strategies, is set for the University of Colorado in Boulder, Feb. 5-7. Panels will examine the "wise use" movement's recent court cases dealing with property rights and environmental "takings," wolf reintroduction, reform of the 1872 Mining Act, and alternative economic strategies for the southern Rockies. Keynote speakers are David Brower, director of the Earth Island Institute in San Francisco, and Tom Powers, chair of the economics department at the University of Montana. A pre-conference debate Feb. 3 features wise-use advocate Ron Arnold, vice president of the Center for Defense of Free Enterprise, based in Bellevue, Wash., and Tom Lustig, senior attorney for the National Wildlife Federation's Rocky Mountain clinic in Boulder, Colo. For more information, contact the CU Environmental Center, University of Colorado at Boulder, UMC 331A, Campus Box 207, Boulder, CO 80309-0207 (303/492-8308).

The high-mountain town of Silverton, Colo., hosts another avalanche training course next month. The San Juan Mountain Search and Rescue Team, which has taught people about the hazards of avalanches for 25 years, will hold its annual Silverton Avalanche School from Feb. 12-14. Students, who range from ski patrollers to recreational skiers, pay $100 to learn how to recognize avalanche hazards, determine snow stability, run rescue operations and react during emergencies. A two-day course in January drew participants from California and New Mexico as well as Colorado. For more information call the Silverton Chamber of Commerce at 303/387-5654.

Members of the Wolf Recovery Foundation say a pack of six to eight wolves may be in the Boise National Forest. The trouble, they say, is that no one seems to care. It took the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over one month to follow up a Nov. 13 sighting by helicopter pilot Bill Albers, says foundation member Michael Wickes, a wildlife photographer. "Albers flew within 50 feet of them, so he got a good look. It was really an exciting lead." After the Forest Service sent Albers' report to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Dec. 7, the agency said logistical problems kept it from dispatching biologists to the area for another nine days. "They just sat on the report," Wickes said. Frustrated by the government's delay, Wickes hired a plane to fly over the area on Dec. 13, but three large canines he saw were apparently coyotes. Suzanne Laverty, executive director of the Wolf Recovery Foundation, says that over the years sightings of possible wolves have mounted to the hundreds. Confirmed wolf-pack activity could change a federal plan to reintroduce wolves to Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho. Under the current plan, agencies favor reintroducing wolves to the areas as an "experimental population." That allows wolves to be killed if ranchers see them preying on livestock. Laverty says she fears federal agencies will ignore the fact that wild wolves may already exist in Idaho; if they do exist, they are entitled to full protection under the Endangered Species Act. "It's not a matter of whether there's wolves in Idaho," she said. "It's that we don't have a commitment from the federal agencies to find out how many there are." The Wolf Recovery Foundation can be reached at P.O. Box 793, Boise, ID 83701-0793. To report wolf sightings in Idaho, call 1-800/793-WOLF. The foundation offers $1,000 for reports that lead to confirmed wolf-pack activity.
- Arden Trewartha

Skiers are not the only ones rejoicing when a deep blanket of snow covers the Rocky Mountains. Winter is the best time for trackers, an enthusiastic breed of naturalists intent on understanding the private lives of critters. A new guidebook, Tracking and the Art of Seeing: How to Read Animal Tracks and Sign , provides 350 color photographs and detailed descriptions of over 50 mammals. Author Paul Rezendes will lead novices and experts alike into a wonderful, richer world. "Ultimately," writes Rezendes, a professional tracker and photographer, "tracking an animal makes us sensitive to it - a bond is formed, an intimacy develops."

Camden House Publishing, Inc., Ferry Road, Charlotte, VT 05445. 320 pages. Photos, drawings. Paper: $19.95.
- Florence Williams

Winter storms of near-biblical proportions have dampened talk of a seventh year of drought, but water remains a fighting word in Nevada. To foster debate, if not consensus, a series of 30 public forums on water policy will be kicked off at the annual Nevada Water Resources Association meeting Feb. 10-11 at the Peppermill Hotel in Reno. The gathering of state water officials, consultants, project managers and proponents will be the first to experience the Nevada Water Forum, a format designed to provoke discussion of public policies. Participants will analyze four options: maintaining the status quo of the prior appropriation doctrine and the czar-like powers of the state water engineer; letting the market decide by allowing water to be traded as a commodity; legislating water as a public good and strengthening citizen participation in decision-making; or outlawing transfers of water between basins to make people go where water is instead of bringing water to cities. A briefing book, Nevada's Water Future: Making Tough Choices, provides essential facts, figures and background on the controversy. Ballots will be available so that participants can vote on "how we the people want to manage and allocate scarce water resources to have the kind of Nevada we want over the next 20 years," says organizer Jean Ford. Results will be presented to the Nevada Legislature. Contact Jean Ford, c/o Women's Studies, University of Nevada, Reno, NV 89557 (702/784-1560).

Five hundred years ago Columbus stumbled upon the "New World" cuisine and changed tastes worldwide. This is the focus of Seeds of Change, a book that recreates a traveling Smithsonian exhibit. It examines the massive changes arising from contact between the continents: Potatoes, corn and sugar were shipped to Europe while horses, cows and sheep came to America. Europeans also introduced diseases such as smallpox and cholera, which killed 75 percent of the Indian population and enslaved Indians and Africans on sugar plantations. Ultimately, the book focuses on the high human and ecological costs of building a new industrial empire. Smithsonian Institution Press, Department 900, Blue Ridge Summit, PA 17294. Paper: $24.95, 278 pages, illustrated with photos. The exhibit travels to the Salt Lake City Public Library, 209 E. Fifth S., Jan. 30 through Feb. 28. For information contact Colleen McLaughlin at 801/524-8234.
- Arden Trewartha

Those who love the outrageous and odd, prepare for the Washington and Oregon tour of Queen Salmon: A Biologically Explicit Musical Comedy for People of Several Species. Presented by the Human Nature troupe, the plot turns on a rural town's struggle to save its declining salmon runs. Characters include loggers and hippies, biologists and business men, and even salmon and spotted owls who squabble and stir things up in their efforts to preserve home. Dubbed by the San Francisco Guardian "one of the most entertaining ecology lessons you'll ever encounter," Queen Salmon provides a rallying point for people interested in protecting the places they live. For dates, places and times, contact Human Nature, P.O. Box 81, Petrolia, CA 95558 (707/629-3670).

A recently formed forest-watchdog group won the first round in its fight to protect a unique stand of low-elevation timber on state lands near Missoula, Mont. The 100-member Gold Creek Resources Protection Association, composed of mostly Missoula-area residents, was formed in August 1991 to stop the proposed Burnt Bridge Timber Sale. The group filed suit against Montana last July, and in December a district judge ruled that Montana could not sell the timber until 180 days following the completion of a revised environmental assessment or full EIS. The association successfully argued that the original assessment failed to fully consider the impacts of timber cutting on elk habitat and educational and recreational values. "Of the 5 million acres the Department (of State Lands) administers, surely they can set aside a few hundred for educational and recreational purposes," said association spokesperson Tarn Ream. A revised environmental assessment is expected by spring; the Montana State Board of Land Commissioners is responsible for making a decision on the proposed sale. For more information about the Gold Creek Association, contact Tarn Ream at 406/243-5722 or 406/549-7933.

The Environmental Resource Center in Ketchum, Idaho, needs two interns to coordinate and run an "Eco-Summer Camp." The Wyoming Outdoor Council hopes an intern will conduct some recycling research. Making a Change: A Student Guide to Social Change Internships in the Northern Rockies describes more than 40 internships in a new 78-page booklet. Published by the Northern Rockies Action Group, it lists internships with groups involved in natural resources, low-income communities, women's issues and public policy. The booklet helps a prospective intern's search by giving advice on how to evaluate and select a stint as well as how to prepare an application. The guide costs $3.50, plus 75 cents for postage, from the Northern Rockies Action Group, 9 Placer St., Helena, MT 59601.

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