read-ing [from ME reden, to explain, hence to read] - vt. 1 to get the meaning of, 2 to understand the nature, significance, or thinking of; 3 to interpret or understand; 4 to apply oneself to; study.
THE EMBATTLED FERRET
The black-footed ferret has lived in North America for at least 30,000 years. Their population may once have numbered in the hundreds of thousands. More recently, their ,xistence has been tenuous at best, and they are one of the rarest animals in North America..
By 1964 the federal government was ready to declare the black-footed ferret extinct, but a small population was discovered in South Dakota. When the Endangered Species Act passed in 1966, the black-footed ferret was one of the first animals listed as endangered. Only eleven litters were produced during the ten years that biologists studied the South Dakota ferrets. Finally, the few survivors were captured for an unsuccessful breeding program. When the last captive South Dakota ferret died in 1979, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service again considered declaring black-footed ferrets extincL
Then in September 1981, a Wyoming ranch dog killed a ferret near Meeteetse! Federal authorities were notified and black-footed ferrets had another chance for survival of the species. Biologists studied ferrets in the field until 1985, when distemper killed most of the wild ferrets. Six ferrets were captured in the fall of 1985, The last survivors were captured in 1987, bringing the captive population to 18 black-footed ferrets. Those 18 animals were all that remained between black-footed ferrets and extinction.
The ferrets were taken to the Sybille Wildlife Research and Conservation Education Center near Wheatland, Wyoming. Although there has been some contention between wildlife biologists and various government agencies about how to manage black-footed ferrets, the captive population reproduced successfully. As the population grew, the ferrets were distributed to zoos in the United States and Canada. By 199 1, the breeding program had been successful enough to begin releasing ferrets into the wild in Shirley Basin, Wyoming. Between 1991 and 1994 almost 230 ferrets were released in Shirley Basin. Releases stopped in 1995 when sylvatic plague decimated the prairie dog population. Against the odds, the feisty ferrets survived in Shirley Basin and a few were sighted again in late 1996. Additional populations of ferrets have been established in Montana's Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge (about 50 surviving animals) and Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, South Dakota's Badlands National Park (about 200 ferrets), and in Aubrey Valley, Arizona (a few).
In a recent monograph published by the Nevada Humanities Committee, Barbara Erickson describes some of the old mines in the Elkhorn Mountains of Montana, between Butte and Helena. These mines no longer produce minerals, but are visited for the supposed curative Powers of the low level radiation found there. Desperate people come to these "Radon Health Mines" because regular medical treatment has failed to provide relief for their arthritis and rheumatism. Here is a description of the Free Enterprise mine.
Once down at the bottom of the shaft, the tunnel opens off to either side. The walls of the tunnel are the native rock, with huge wooden support beams spaced throughout the length of it. The tunnel is approximately one hundred yards long all together, and along the walls are old bus benches and padded seats of assorted shapes and colors. Card tables and chairs are placed at each end in widened-out areas. It feels cool, but not uncomfortable, and the air smells fresh. The tunnel is well-lit, and people read, play cards, chat, or doze in their chairs all along the length of the corridors. On every wooden beam dozens of names and dates are inscribed, some with cryptic messages about their healing experiences, and hundreds of business cards have been tacked or stapled onto the wood. Names and dates are also carved into or written on the stone walls. One of the plastic chairs has printed on it in marker pen, "Roy's healing chair." There are places where annual visitors have written each successive year, for example "Ray and Linda: 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991 " and so on. The people are eager to tell me about their illnesses and about their healing successes. They tell me that in July and August (it is now June) the place will "really get packed" and that usually someone has a guitar, and they sing and laugh. Certain "regulars" come at the same time every summer and plan on seeing friends made at the mines from year to year. Several people tell me that in July "busloads of Amish people" arrive from Pennsylvania and Ohio.
The Free Enterprise works hard to be friendly and personal, but at the same time the owners have made every effort to manage it professionally. It has been in the Lewis family continually since 1949, and was recently purchased by Patricia, the granddaughter of Wade Lewis. She and her husband make their living from the business, and they have tried to make it profitable even as they make improvements in the place. They charge more than any of the other mines but keep their share of loyal customers because of the amenities, the professionalism, and the sense of confidence and competence exuded at the Free Enterprise.
DISPROPORTIONATE CRIME GUNS
On March 17, 2000, Smith and Wesson signed a controversial agreement with the federal government "to reduce the criminal misuse of firearms, combat the illegal acquisition, possession and trafficking of firearms, reduce the incidence of firearms accidents, and educate the public on the safe handling and storage of firearms." Among the provisions of the agreement are the following section which assigns corporate responsibility for the crimes committed by people who have purchased Smith and Wesson weapons:
If ATF or the Oversight Commission informs the manufacturer parties to this Agreement that a disproportionate number of crime guns have been traced to a dealer or distributor within three years of the gun's sale, the manufacturer(s) that have authorized the dealer or distributor to sell guns will either immediately terminate sales to the dealer or distributor or take the following actions. The manufacturers will, individually or collectively, notify the dealer or distributor of the disproportionate number within seven (7) days and demand an explanation and proposal to avoid a disproportionate number of traces in the future. The dealer or distributor will have fifteen (15) days to provide the explanation and proposal. If the manufacturer(s) determine that the explanation and proposal are not satisfactory, the manufacturer(s) will terminate supplies to the dealer or distributor. If the manufacturer(s) determine that the explanation and proposal are satisfactory, the manufacturer will continue supplies, but will closely monitor traces to the dealer or distributor in question. If disproportionate traces continue, the manufacturer(s) will terminate supplies to the dealer or distributor.
The manufacturer(s) shall inform the Oversight Commission and ATF of its/their notifications and decisions and provide them with the information provided by the dealer or distributor. If the Oversight Commission determines that suspension or termination of the dealer or distributor is warranted, and the manufacturer(s) did not take this action, the Oversight Commission shall direct the manufacturer(s) to do so.
Disproportionate number of crime guns: Upon execution of this Agreement, the Oversight Commission will convene to determine a formula to identify what constitutes a disproportionate number of crime guns. In determining the formula, the Oversight Commission shall consider the available data and establish procedures to ensure that the relevant data is obtained. This provision will not take effect until the Oversight Commission sets the formula and a mechanism for its implementation.
DEMOCRATIC GOVERNORS ON EDGE OF THE WEST- 2000
The western edge of the West has a preference for governors from the Democratic party. In the year 2000, Democrats will serve as governors for Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, and California. The remainder of the West will be served by Republican governors.
SOURCE: National Conference of State Legislatures, http:// www.ncsl.org.
Urging a Republican amendment that would slow the increase in minimum wage proposed by a November, 1999 Democratic bill, New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici explained his calculations of who would benefits from an increase in the minimum wage:
It is more likely to impact a teenager than it is the head of a household. The fact is, 55 percent of the minimum wage applies to people between the ages of 16 and 24. The overwhelming number of these are teenagers in part-time jobs, working in McDonald's-type restaurants across America. They don't even stay in the minimum wage position very long, according to the research we have seen. If they work well and choose to follow the rules and the orders and do an excellent job, they are raised above the minimum wage rather quickly.
Our amendment saves small businesses and gives them an opportunity to grow and prosper and energize this economy; at the same time, it gives every opportunity for the young people in our country to get into jobs wherein they break into the market place, that firstlevel job, and get those kinds of jobs in sufficient numbers to be helpful for whatever they are doing. There are even high school students doing this. They are 50 percent of the minimum wage people in this country.
The first western primary has come and gone. Only a few states participated, few people voted, and the impact on national politics was nil. Part of the problem may be, as Bill Croke observes in a recent Writers on the Range essay, that Western states have little in common except geography:
Right to Work Wyoming has not had Utah's high tech economic triumphs. Idaho can't empathize with Arizona's immigration problems. Montana wheat farmers don't have much in common with Washington apple growers, Boomtown Las Vegas and oilbust Casper, Wyoming share only sagebrush. In human terms, the lumber millworker and the computer programmer are socially, economically and politically poles apart. [Utah Governor] Mike Leavitt's obvious mistake is that he sees the West as an homogeneous place. This has never been true.
Yet there are important issues common to all Western states. We have the vast bulk of the public lands. How they are managed is of crucial interest to all Westerners, and indeed to every American citizen. Presidential candidates should be forced to spell out their vision for these lands and the communities that depend on them.
So Leavitt's plan is probably not a bad idea. If it ever comes to fruition, maybe we'll get something more than I 5-minute stump speeches delivered on an airport tarmac with the plane's engines running. Every four years we'll have our few days in the media spotlight as candidates descend on us like grasshoppers in a dry year, and pay lip service to Western issues. Then they'll all go away, and the rest of the country can go back to ignoring us, which is why many of us live here.
WHERE THE MONEY IS
When Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks, he is said to have replied, "That's where the money is." Recently, some critics are questioning whether major universities are applying Sutton's ethical standards when it comes to obtaining funding for research. A recent essay by Eyal Press and Jennifer Washburn detail some of the controversy involved. Their essay begins:
In the fall of 1964 a twenty-one-year-old Berkeley undergraduate named Mario Savio climbed the steps of Sproul Hall and denounced his university for bending over backwards to "serve the need of American industry." Savio, the leader of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, accused the University of functioning as "a factory that turns out a certain product needed by industry" rather than serving as the conscience and a critic of society. To the modem ear this sixties rhetoric may sound outdated. To many people in the academic world, however, Savio's words ring truer today than ever. Although our national conversation about higher education remains focused on issues of diversity and affirmative action, nothing provoked more debate on many college campuses last year than the growing ties between universities and business and nowhere was the debate livelier than at Berkeley.
On the afternoon of April 13, a radiant day last spring, the Berkeley campus hardly looked like a site of protest. Students lay on green lawns, soaking in the sunshine. But inside Room 60 of Evans Hall, a concrete building on the northern edge of campus, the lights were dim and the atmosphere tense. There two dozen faculty members, many of them professors in the College of Natural Resources, had gathered to present the disquieting results of a newly released faculty survey. The focus of the survey was a controversial agreement that Berkeley had signed in November of 1998 with Novartis, a Swiss pharmaceutical giant and producer of genetically engineered crops. Under the terms of the agreement Novartis will give Berkeley $25 million to fund basic research in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, one of four departments within the CNR.
In exchange for the $25 million, Berkeley grants Novartis first right to negotiate licenses on roughly a third of the department's discoveries including the results of research funded by state and federal sources as well as by Novartis. It also grants the company unprecedented representation two of five seats on the department's research committee, which determines how the money is spent.
That the university had the backing of a private company was hardly unusual. That a single corporation would be providing one third of the research budget of an entire department at a public university had sparked an uproar. Shortly after the agreement was signed, a newly formed graduate-student group, Students for Responsible Research, circulated a petition blasting the Novartis deal for standing "in direct conflict with our mission as a public university." The Daily Californian, Berkeley's student newspaper, published a five-part series on the growing privatization of the university, and a coalition of public-interest groups sent a letter to Berkeley's chancellor, Robert Berdahl, charging that the alliance "would disqualify a leading intellectual center from the ranks of institutions able to provide the kind of research free from vested interest" that is the hallmark of academic life. Meanwhile, the commercial bent, College of Natural Resources, headed by Dean Gordon Rausser, sent a message to all professors urging them not to speak to the press and to direct any questions to the university's public-relations off ice. Many viewed this as a hush order.
"We are here to discuss the position of the faculty," Ignacio Chapela, a professor of microbial ecology, announced as the April 13 meeting began. Chapela, who was then the chairman of the college's executive committee, a faculty governing body, snapped on an overhead projector to display the results of the survey, and declared that the Novartis deal had left the CNR "deeply divided." While 41 percent of the faculty respondents supported the Novartis agreement as signed, more than 50 percent believed that it would have a "negative" or "strongly negative" effect on academic freedom. Roughly half believed that the agreement would erode Berkeley's commitment to "public good research," and 60 percent feared that it would impede the free exchange of ideas among scientists within the college....
ROAMING BUFFALO HARD TO SELL
In 1987, media entrepreneur Ted Turner began buying ranches in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and New Mexico. Currently, his Turner Enterprises owns a whopping 1.7 million acres of the West.
A strong environmentalist, Turner aims to restore the land to what it was before settlers came. Part of the restoration includes replacing cattle with buffalo, which according to Turner are kinder to the environment and also have the potential of making money from consumers who want a leaner alternative to beef. Paul Tharp, writing in a recent New York Post notes an economic intrusion into Turner's idyllic re-creation of the west - you need help to sell buffalo.
Ted Turner is no longer home alone on the range where his buffalo roam. Unhappy with America's weak appetite for bison burgers and steaks, Turner is turning over his buffalo herds to major meat packers, who will be better able to promote the health benefits of the lowfat meat.
The billionaire vice chairman of Time Warner founded his buffalo operation, U.S. Bison Co. L.LC, several years ago, and has watched its herds grow to 15,000 head. His buff buffalo graze on his ranches in Montana, Nebraska and New Mexico.
But Turner, an avid Wild West history buff and zealous proponent of bison meat, said he believes professional meat marketers will do a better job of selling the meat to Americans. Turner yesterday announced he'll merge his privately held Buffalo company with North American Provisioner by early July to strengthen his marketing. Terms weren't disclosed.
Citing the presence of extreme anti-federalism on the part of individuals and local government leaders in Nevada, Gloria Flora resigned from her position as Forest Service Supervisor of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest last November. Stretching from Eastern California across most of Nevada, the Humboldt-Toiyabe Forest is the largest in the lower 48 states.
Flora has won praise from environmental groups for her stand against commercial activities in federal forests. Local ranchers and businessmen held differing views, and in many areas of Nevada the "sage brush rebellion" has sometimes taken arms against forest service personnel. The text of Ms. Flora's resignation letter is reproduced below in its entirety.
There is no easy way to say good-bye to a group of hard-working, dedicated employees and friends. But the time has come when I must do just that. The best part of working on this Forest is watching each of you perform your work so well. The results speak for themselves in the outstanding land stewardship and exemplary business practices found on this Forest.
I have become increasingly troubled by the difficult conditions that so many of us face in the state of Nevada. We now accept as commonplace unwarranted criticisms of and verbal attacks on federal employees. Officials at all levels of government in Nevada participate in this irresponsible fed-bashing. The public is largely silent, watching as if this were a spectator sport. This level of antifederal fervor is simply not acceptable.
It is not like this in other places! As you know, I've worked throughout the Intermountain West: Montana, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming. Yes, there are arguments and strong disagreements over land use policy, but they usually stay within the bounds of reason. As tensions escalate, others weigh in with their opinions and the media does in-depth investigative reporting. There is a sense of balance. Outlandish words and acts, regardless of the origin, are repudiated openly by reasonable community members. Constructive collaboration and discourse are recognized as the methods to resolve complex natural resource issues. Yes, things may get heated but all people have a voice.
The attitude towards federal employees and federal laws in Nevada is pitiful. People in rural communities who do respect the law and accept responsibility for complying with it are often rebuked or ridiculed. They are compared to collaborators with the Vichy government in Nazi-controlled France! People who support the federal government or conservation of natural resources ask that they not be identified for fear of retaliation. When I speak against the diatribes and half-truths of the Sagebrush Rebellion, I am labeled a liar and personally vilified in an attempt to silence me. When I express concerns for Forest Service employees' safety, I am accused of inciting violence.
This is the United States of America. All people have a right to speak and all people have a right to protection from discrimination. However, I learned that in Nevada, as a federal employee, you have no right to speak, no right to do your job and certainly no right to he treated with respect. I could go on and on with examples of those of you who have been castigated in public, shunned in your communities, refused service in restaurants, kicked out of motels... just because of who you work for. And we cannot forget those who have been harassed, called before kangaroo courts, or had their very lives threatened.
It disturbs me to think that two million people in this state watch silently, or worse, in amusement, as a small percent of their number break laws and trounce the rights of others with impunity. Worse yet, there are elected officials who actively support these offenders. Those whose responsibility it is to help us enforce the laws passed by Congress and do our mandated jobs, always seem to have a reason why action must be postponed.
The Jarbidge situation is just another example of how certain elements would rather fight and excoriate the federal government than work towards a solution. These people need an "evil empire" to attack. When a member of the United States Congress joins forces with them, using the power of the office to stage a public inquisition of federal employees followed by a political fund-raiser, I must protest. This member and others continue to do this, and we, as an agency, believe that it is best to keep turning the other cheek. Enough is enough. I am not promoting conflict; I'm simply advocating that our agency demands fairness and common decency. It's time to speak up.
But speaking up and continuing to work here are not compatible. By speaking out, I cannot provide you, my employees, with a safe working environment. And to date, I have not been able to convince others that the current atmosphere is unacceptable and requires a proactive response. I refuse to continue to participate in this charade of normalcy.
Equally troubling is our limited ability to perform the mission of the Forest Service under these conditions. As stewards for public lands, entrusted with protecting and restoring natural resources for present and future generations, we must be able to perform those functions in a collaborative and cooperative manner. The health of the land is paramount.
I am choosing to leave for my principles, for my personal well-being, and so I can actualize my commitment to natural resource management in a setting where respect and civil discourse is the norm. I have no definite plans and I am not seeking special treatment from the agency. I will stay at least until the end of the year to help ensure a smoother transition to new leadership.
I leave you with my fondest wishes for continuing your excellent work and gaining the fulfillment and respect that you all deserve. As I told you when I I first arrived, simply demonstrate honesty, integrity and ethical behavior and you will succeed. Thank you for the tremendous support you have given me, I couldn't have asked for more from you.
Gloria E. Flora , Forest Supervisor
ANOTHER VIEW OF ESA
The Endangered Species Act is another area where tensions between the federal government and the Western states have been exacerbated. While it is impeccably polite, the following testimony by Montana Governor Marc Racicot reveals some of these deep felt frustrations.
Testimony of Marc Racicot, Governor of Montana on behalf of The Western Governors Association before the House Resources Committee on HR 3160, Common Sense Protection of Endangered Species Act, March 1, 2000
Mr. Chairman, Representative Miller, Members of the Committee. My name is Marc Racicot. I am Governor of the State of Montana and am here representing the Western Governors' Association. I appreciate the opportunity to share with you the governors' perspectives on the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Comprehensive reauthorization of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in this Congress is the highest legislative priority of the Western Governors. We appreciate the Committee's efforts to fulfill this goal.
Our states and communities must deal with the effects of proposals to list species and management decisions made under the ESA on literally a daily basis. Recent salmon, steelhead, and bull trout listings affect nearly every watershed in the Pacific Northwest from tidewater areas to headwater streams in Montana. The prairie dog, which the Service has said is warranted but precluded for listing ranges over 11 western states. A listing decision on the lynx is scheduled for March and reaches from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine.
Unfortunately, listing under the act places a cloud of uncertainty over nearly every economic and social activity where the species may occur. As a result, our state, county and local governments must consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service to identify and develop the best management practices for activities ranging from storm water discharges to road design, to myriad land uses.
Equally unfortunate are the dynamics of present ESA impacts which stifle cooperative agreements and innovative ways to foster healthy populations. For instance, there is an inadequate number of effective federal-state partnerships which can lead to protective (4d) - rules. This lack of partnership reflects a lack of understanding of what should be understood as effective state and local government practices.
At the same time, our farm and ranching communities are trying to learn what practices will comport with the protective (4d) - regulation for species listed as threatened, while our states and communities are coming together and marshaling their resources to reverse the declines in these species. Yet the two Services are not willing or have too few personnel to work with states and private landowners to incorporate creative solutions to meet the requirements of the ESA.
Similarly, Montana has encountered delays with our construction projects under the new highway act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does has not have the personnel to conduct the Section 7 consultations that are necessary before bridges and roads can be constructed in affected watersheds.
Rural communities and federal and state resource and land management agencies are reeling from the successive listing petitions that have been and are being prepared for each of the species that share the large landscapes of the West - like our prairies and sagebrush steppes, where prairie dogs and grouse are keystone species.
Under the current approach, successive petitions and settlement of legal challenges divert resources and impose deadlines that short-circuit state conservation efforts before they can be completed. This process, quite frankly, frightens away stakeholders who are interested in conserving the species. Yet, in nearly every case, these species spend the majority of their time on private lands. The decline of these species cannot be reversed unless states and private landowners are made partners in achieving the goals of the Act.
These problems are compounded by the fact that landowners are not given the regulatory assurances and financial and technical assistance that they need to actively manage their lands for the benefit of declining species. Even where states have brought stakeholders together to address the threats to a species in conservation agreements, court decisions, which second guess a Secretary's approval of such plans, have set such agreements aside.
In short, our states need immediate, comprehensive improvements in the way the Endangered Species Act is implemented and funded. The intent of the Act remains a laudable goal. Yet the tools within the Act have become outdated and are incomplete.
SOURCE: Western Governors Association, "Key Issues," http://www.westgov.org/
RODEO ANIMAL RIGHTS
How we view animals and the role they play in western life has forever changed. Consider the following statement about "animal welfare" taken from the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) web site:
An important distinction to make when dealing with animal issues is the difference between animal welfare and animal rights. After learning the difference between the two philosophies, it
is easier to distinguish between organizations that directly help animals and those who wish to end the use of animals.
Animal Welfare-based on principles of humane care and use. Organizations who support animal welfare principles seek to improve the treatment and well-being of animals. Supporting animal welfare premises means believing humans have the right to use animals, but along with that right comes the responsibility to provide proper and human care and treatment.
Animal Rights-organizations that support animal rights philosophies seek to end the use and ownership of animals. Animal rights organizations seek to abolish by law: the raising of farm animals for food and clothing, rodeos, circuses, zoos, hunting, trapping, fishing, the use of animals in lifesaving biomedical research, the use of animals in education and the breeding of pets. The largest groups that support these ideas are the Humane Society of the United States and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Many organizations that in the past have been considered animal welfare organizations have made the move towards animal rights, The Humane Society of the United States has shifted resources from serving animals directly to educational programs against farming, fur wearing, fishing, hunting, animals in entertainment and other staples of American life. The most dangerous trend is the trend of these organizations to step into the legislative field and promote legislation to ban these and other activities that involve animals.
CARTOONING THE WEST: JOHN S. PRITCHETT
Originally from Florida, John Pritchett moved to Honolulu in 1974 where he worked as an artist for the advertising industry until 1987. To pursue a cartooning career, Pritchett joined the Honolulu Weekly where his work quickly garnered numerous awards. In 1995, he began publishing cartoons on economic issues in Pacific Business News. On Maui, his cartoons appear weekly in the Lahaina News. He has published two books on local politics: "Drawn & Quartered" and "The Unbelievable Empire." Nationally, his work has appeared in The Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and the Seattle Times. Originally from Florida, John Pritchett moved to Honolulu in 1974 where he worked as an artist for the advertising industry until 1987. To pursue a cartooning career, Pritchett joined the Honolulu Weekly where his work quickly garnered numerous awards. In 1995, he began publishing cartoons on economic issues in Pacific Business News. On Maui, his cartoons appear weekly in the Lahaina News. He has published two books on local politics: "Drawn & Quartered" and "The Unbelievable Empire." Nationally, his work has appeared in The Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and the Seattle Times. Originally from Florida, John Pritchett moved to Honolulu in 1974 where he worked as an artist for the advertising industry until 1987. To pursue a cartooning career, Pritchett joined the Honolulu Weekly where his work quickly garnered numerous awards. In 1995, he began publishing cartoons on economic issues in Pacific Business News. On Maui, his cartoons appear weekly in the Lahaina News. He has published two books on local politics: "Drawn & Quartered" and "The Unbelievable Empire." Nationally, his work has appeared in The Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and the Seattle Times.
[click on cartoons to enlarge]