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The Gray and the Blues

Some environmentalists say California Gov. Gray Davis (D) has succumbed to campaign contributions from the timber industry and is failing to push for more protections for the state's forestland. Clear-cutting has exploded in the state in recent years, largely because of one company, Sierra Pacific Industries, which owns 1.5 million forest acres in the state, making it the second largest private landowner in the U.S. Since Davis was elected in 1998, Sierra Pacific has been active in helping to fill his campaign coffers, and the governor has appointed a company executive to the state Board of Forestry. Enviros say the …

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The Gall!

America's federal lands are increasingly threatened by thieves who make off with everything from mushrooms to cedar trees and sell the natural resources for profit. From 1991 to 1997, poachers stole 15,000 barrel cacti from federal lands in California, including the Mojave National Preserve, and sold them to makers of miznaga, a Mexican candy. Earlier this year, 10 people were convicted of hunting bears in Virginia's Shenandoah National Park and selling the gall bladders and paws, which are prized overseas. In 1999, a crew of workers stole hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bear grass, which is used in …

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The Bonus Collector

A man enviros love to hate, Charles Hurwitz, chair and CEO of Maxxam Inc., got a good deal richer last year when he finally acceded to a government buyout of the Headwaters stand of ancient redwoods in Northern California. Filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission show that Hurwitz, whose company owns Pacific Lumber, was paid an $11.6 million bonus in stock by the Maxxam board of directors for closing the deal under which Pacific Lumber sold the 10,000-acre Headwaters tract to the state and federal government for almost $480 million in March 1999. Hurtwitz worked for two years to …

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Putin on the Fritz

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday abolished the nation's environmental protection agency, the State Committee on the Environment, ostensibly to help save money and cut bureaucracy. The agency's functions will be turned over to the Ministry on Natural Resources, which oversees oil and gas development, logging, and mining. Putin has made it clear that he is no friend to the environmental movement. He has asserted in the past that foreign spies use environmentalists as cover, and under his watch several leading Russian enviro activists and researchers have been investigated by the national security service. Greenpeace and other enviros accuse Putin …

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Revenge of the Nerds

A coalition of enviros and high-tech philanthropists in Washington state is launching a three-year campaign to raise at least $25 million in private donations and leverage at least $100 million in federal funds so the government can buy 75,000 acres of privately owned land in the state's Cascade Mountains to create a wilderness corridor. Organizers include some of the same people who successfully raised $16.5 million in private funds last year to protect 25,000 acres of the Loomis Forest in north Washington. Another project that hopes to tap into the new wealth in the Seattle area is the new Puget …

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Can You Hear the Drums, Fernando?

A controversial bill due to be debated in the Brazilian Congress next week would cut the legally protected portion of the nation's Amazon region from 80 percent to 50 percent. Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso promised yesterday to fight the measure. Enviros warn that the bill would dramatically increase destruction of the Amazon rainforest, the world's largest tropical forest and home to a significant proportion of the world's plant and animal species. In more encouraging Amazon news, the World Wildlife Fund, the Global Environment Facility, and the Brazilian government last week announced a program under which at least 10 percent …

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And other words from readers

Re: Lean and Green Dear Editor: I read with interest your story on the family in Colorado that made the choice to live more simply and consume less in an effort to improve their quality of life and lessen their impact on the environment. I fully endorse the idea of simplifying one's life, spending less, and making choices that result in lessening one's contribution to the waste stream. The problem with glorifying this kind of back-to-the-rural-enclave mentality is that it does not take into account the impact of economies of scale or sensible land-use planning and development. An influx of …

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