News Shorts May 5, 2004 

BOISE

OWYHEE COUNTY INITIATIVE PUBLIC HEARINGS

The Owyhee County Commissioners announced three public hearings on the Owyhee Initiative:

• Thursday, May 13, Oreana Community Center, 7 p.m.

• Friday, May 14, Marsing Community Center, 1 p.m.

• Monday, May 17, Bruneau Legion Hall, 7 p.m.

At the public hearings, members of the Owyhee Initiative Work Group will present components of the draft proposal to resolve land use conflicts in Owyhee County. The floor will then be open for questions and comments from the public.

The draft proposal submitted by the Owyhee Working Group is available online at owyheeintiative.org, via e-mail from owyheeinitiative@cableone.net or by calling 250-4166.

Written comments on the proposal will be accepted until May 18. Comments should be directed to specific language of the draft proposal and should be accompanied by alternative solutions to land use conflicts. Comments can be e-mailed to owyheeinitiative@cableone.net or mailed to "Owyhee Initiative," 620 Fletcher, Nampa, 83686.

Following the public hearings, the Owyhee County Commissioners will decide whether or not to support the Initiative as written.

The Owyhee Initiative Work Group will meet on May 20 to vote on moving forward with the draft proposal or to modify it. Once a final version is complete it will be presented to Sen. Mike Crapo who has agreed to move forward with the preservation proposal.

In addition, a panel discussion is scheduled to address the role the Bureau of Land Management Resources Advisory Council should play in the Owyhee Initiative's proposed science review process. Representatives from Owyhee County, the Owyhee Initiative, conservationists and sportsmen groups will comprise the panel. Idaho Bird Hunters, Ada County Fish and Game League, Idaho Watersheds Project, Golden Eagle Audubon Chapter and Idaho Wildlife Federation present the panel. The discussion takes place Thursday, May 6, 7 p.m., Idaho Department of Fish and Game Trophy Room, 600 S. Walnut St.

IDAHO

GAY PARENT RIGHTS CASE GOES TO COURT

The custody battle between a gay man and his ex-wife went before the Idaho Supreme Court this week.

Theron McGriff of Idaho Falls and his wife Shawn Weingartner divorced in 1997 and agreed to joint custody of their two children.

After Weingartner learned McGriff was living with his gay partner a custody battle ensued. In February 2002 Bonneville County Magistrate Mark Riddoch ruled McGriff could no longer see his two children if he continued to live with his male partner. McGriff appealed to Idaho's high court on grounds that he was denied custody and visitation rights because he is gay.

The court is expected to rule on the precedent-setting case, which is receiving national coverage, within six months.

WEST

COLORADO WATER RULING

U.S. District Judge William Downes ruled last week the U.S. Forest Service cannot permit streams below dams in Colorado to dry out because fish and wildlife habitat is destroyed.

The ruling comes from a suit filed 10 years ago by Trout Unlimited against the U.S. Forest Service, the cities of Greeley and Ft. Collins and an irrigation supply company. Trout Unlimited claimed the Forest Service did not adhere to guaranteed year-round bypass flows, which maintain wetland habitat downstream from the dam, thereby violating federal laws.

"We now have a decision that says the Forest Service must mitigate the effects of existing dams on federal lands," Melinda Kassen, director of the Colorado Water Project for Boulder-based Trout Unlimited, told the Rocky Mountain News. She expects Colorado lawmakers will now try and change the law requiring year-round flows.

"If this decision is upheld, it is open season on existing water supplies that originate on federal land," James Witwer, attorney for one of the parties sued, told the Rocky Mountain News.

NATION

BUSH ADMINISTRATION GETS PETITION TO PLACE 225 PLANTS AND ANIMALS ON ENDANGERED LIST

A coalition of prominent scientists, artists and environmentalists filed 1,000 pages of legal documents with the Bush administration this week, requesting that it cease delaying Endangered Species Act protection for 225 of the nation's most imperiled plants and animals. The action is the largest listing effort in the history of the ESA.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has already declared that all 225 plants and animals qualify as proposed endangered species. Instead of protecting them, however, it has placed them on a waiting list called the "candidate list." A recent report by the Center for Biological Diversity shows that systematic delays, including lengthy waits on the candidate list, contributed to the extinction of 83 species between 1974 and 1994.

Seventy-nine percent of the 225 species (178) have been on the candidate for at least ten years, 38 percent (86) have waited at least 20 years, and 28 percent (64) have been waiting since 1975. On average, the 225 species have been on the waiting list for 17 years.

"The Clinton administration placed 65 species per year on the endangered list, Bush Sr. averaged 59 and Reagan 32. But the Bush administration has essentially shut down the endangered species protection program. It has listed just nine per year. It has the worst record in the history of the Endangered Species Act," said Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity.

Also joining the petition are two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Dr. E.O. Wilson of Harvard University, National Academy of Sciences member Dr. Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University, Dr. Niles Eldredge of the American Museum of Natural History, National Academy of Sciences member Dr. John Terborgh of Duke University, Society for Conservation Biology founder Dr. Michael Soulé of the University of California at Santa Cruz, and National Medal of Science winner Dr. Thomas Eisner of Cornell University.

Artists include Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Barbara Kingsolver, Lannan Literary Award winning essayist Charles Bowden, former Poet Laureate Robert Hass and actor Martin Sheen.

U.S. NATIONAL DEBT CLOCK

The Outstanding Public Debt as of May 4 is $7,188,101,844,359.22.

The estimated population of the United States is 293,963,115, so each citizen's share of this debt is $24,452.39.

The National Debt has continued to increase an average of $1.87 billion per day since September 30, 2003.

Source: www.brillig.com/debt_clock/

U.S./IRAQ DEATH TALLY

As of 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 4, 753 U.S. service members have died since the war in Iraq began in March 2003: 550 in combat and 203 from non-combat-related incidents and accidents. Thirty-three U.S. soldiers died last week.

Source: U.S. Department of Defense

Got a news tip? E-mail cynthia@boiseweekly.com or call 344-2055 ext. 3020.

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