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The Lion and the Lamb
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Sea of Uncertainty
 
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Sierra Magazine

LAY OF THE LAND

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TONGASS MAKES THE LIST. President Clinton's 1999 call to protect 40 million roadless acres of national forest was a landmark-yet limited-proposal. One glaring omission was Alaska's 17-million-acre Tongass National Forest. After receiving more than one million public comments in support of wild places, the U.S. Forest Service added protection for the Tongass and a ban on commercial timber sales in all roadless areas to its final record of decision, signed into law in January. (See "Lay of the Land," March/April 2000, and "Home Front," November/December 2000.)

SO LONG, SNOWMOBILES. In November, the National Park Service announced that it would phase out snowmobile use in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, as well as on the highway that connects the two, over a four-year period. Each of the 100,000 snowmobiles ridden yearly in Yellowstone emits roughly 15 times more carbon monoxide and other pollutants than a car. Thanks to the ban, visitors will enjoy cleaner air and the peace and quiet they went to the park to find. (See "Lay of the Land," July/August 2000.)

ARMY CORPS FOUND GUILTY. When Donald C. Sweeney II accused his employer, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, of manipulating study results to justify a $1.1 billion lock expansion on the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, he was silenced and removed from the study. In December, his claims were validated by a Pentagon report, which also found that the Corps' industry ties created an agencywide bias toward approving river construction projects. (See "Lay of the Land," July/August 2000.)

YOSEMITE PLAN MIXED BAG. After years of debate, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt announced a final management plan for Yosemite Valley in November. The document calls for the removal of some roads, limits high-cost lodging, and eliminates a proposal to build a parking lot in an undeveloped area of the valley. However, it adds a number of new developments, including an environmentally damaging road-widening project, and fails to ban diesel buses from the park. (See "Lay of the Land," May/June 1998.)


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