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LAY OF THE LAND

Oil wells or antelope | Poisoning Whales | W Watch | Dirty old king coal | For the record | Updates

Updates

OLD-GROWTH WON’T GET THE AX. Campaigns by the Sierra Club and other groups have convinced 400 corporations and several U.S. cities to phase out the sale or use of wood from old-growth forests. One of the converts was Home Depot, the world’s largest lumber retailer, which made the pledge in August 1999 after receiving more than 25,000 postcards from Sierra readers. As consumer pressure mounted, the government of British Columbia took notice: In April it announced an immediate moratorium on logging in 3.5 million acres of the Great Bear Rainforest, the largest rainforest conservation measure in North American history. (See “Canada’s Forgotten Coast,” March/April 1999.)

ARMY CORPS MUST shape up. Efforts to remove four dams from Washington’s lower Snake River got a boost in February when a federal court ruled that the structures’ operation violates the Clean Water Act. When water is trapped behind a dam, it is heated by the sun for longer periods; once released, it increases the level of dissolved gas in the river. Both effects can be harmful or lethal to fish. The court ordered the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to come up with a plan that protects the river’s water quality as well as its salmon and steelhead trout. (See “Salmon’s Second Coming,” March/April 2000.)

A COUP FOR COHO. Coho salmon near the Oregon-California border can swim easier since a federal court in April ordered the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to temporarily stop diverting water for irrigation from the Klamath basin. (Affected irrigators, including the Klamath Water Users Association and the Tule Lake Irrigation District, immediately sued to block implementation of the new plan.) Low water levels imperiled not only the threatened Klamath River coho, but two endangered species of freshwater fish and one of the nation’s largest populations of bald eagles. (See “Home Front,” May/June 1998.)


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