Heard Around the West

Brief by Betsy Marston

Various – July 1999 – Colorado Central Magazine

Where does paper come from?

Alternative products from our forests seem to be emerging every day, with one even popping up from poop. The Toronto Globe and Mail reports that a researcher has produced sheets of paper from mashed and pressed moose droppings. Since moose munch mainly on twigs and branches, the paper, called MoDo, never requires trees to be cut down.

In Rigby, Idaho, the lowly russet potato has gone upscale. Thanks to a “closely guarded” distillation process and fancy French glass containers, potatoes transmuted into vodka are selling in the tonier New York restaurants. Capital Press reports that while Teton Glacier Potato Vodka is produced by teetotalers, mostly Mormon, no one disapproves. The workers “love a company with a good idea,” says Gray Ottley, planning manager for Silver Creek Distillers Inc.

Oh give me a home where unlicensed dogs roam

If a home on the range these days can mean monster homes co-existing with the Old West. In Boise, subdivision residents recently shared roads with woolies as some 10,000 sheep trotted their way to summer pasture. One herder, Jose Arrieta, who has worked for rancher Brad Little’s family for 40 years, says Boise was once surrounded by open space. Now, he told the Idaho Statesman, it’s “people, houses, dogs, mountain bikers, Jeeps, motorcycles.”

Arrieta says that after one of his sheepdogs, still a puppy, followed a hiker home, Arrieta was charged with failing to buy a dog license. Yet only 60 years ago, 200,000 sheep were trailed around and sometimes through Boise, all of them accompanied by unlicensed dogs. “We were here first,” Little says, “but sheep don’t have much power anymore.”

Texas: Drive Friendly or Die

Some new state mottoes proposed by an Internet wag include Kansas: “First of the Rectangle States,” California: “As seen on TV,” Arizona: “But it’s a Dry Heat,” and Mississippi: “Come Feel Better About Your Own State.”

Fur might fly in Truck-Launch Invitational

In the West, there’s the old saw: Don’t tell a man what to do with his land. Here’s a new one: Don’t mess with anyone who lets a dog ride in the bed of a pickup.

In Jackson, Wyo., the debate began when Ann Smith saw a dog “launched” from the back of a pickup truck. She rescued the dog, took it to a vet, and then lobbied town officials to ban “loose dogs” in pickups, reports the Jackson Hole News. At first, she found allies galore. One resident said airborne dogs created hazards for other motorists, and Fund For Animals representative Andrea Lococo told the weekly paper, “I cringe, I absolutely cringe … these animals could go catapulting who knows how far? It’s not safe.”

Others demurred, hoping common sense could replace an ordinance. Then letters to the Jackson mayor, reports the Jackson Hole Guide, struck the Old West theme: “It’s my dog, my pickup,” though some people tried to imagine truck-riding from the canine perspective.

Finally, the Jackson Hole News devoted an editorial to the matter, concluding that “the Wyoming dog today has a keen sense of balance and the ability to see into the incessant, forceful Wyoming wind. Dogs that ride up front are sissies.” So far, no law has reined in free-riding pooches, though columnist Mark Huffman may stir up pet-protectors with his suggestion for a contest based on “the beauty of canines in flight.” He calls it a “truck-launch invitational.”

Making Britain Great

Coyotes roaming New York’s Central Park and Chicago’s Loop, beaver biting away at cherry trees in the nation’s capital — where will wild animals turn up next?

For wolves, bears, lynx, and beaver, their next new home might be Great Britain, which exterminated those species hundreds of years ago. Bringing wild animals back home is the moral thing to do, according to British zoölogist Martyn Gorman, though he added, “Much the biggest problem is conquering human aversion to wolves.”

Uncle Sam protects your brown-bagging rights

Locals in Aspen went on the warpath when signs went up at ski resort restaurants banning sack lunches. One eatery also put up a sign at lockers that outlawed their storage. “In other words, purchase something or get out, you little peon!” is how one resident says she interpreted the messages.

Could Aspen Ski Co. get away with that? Not if the restaurant is built on national forest land and permitted by the U.S. Forest Service, it turns out. So the signs banning brown bags came down, and the resort issued a statement that “all on-mountain cafeterias” will allow guests to brown-bag it.

First the Salida Safeway,

and now Sedona bares with us

Sedona, Ariz., has a certain reputation for lifestyle experimentation, so perhaps it was not surprising to see a sign in the Coconino National Forest urging visitors to join in an unexpected group activity: “New trail construction in progress … Please bare with us,” the sign read.

Jogger Wendy Grove, who noticed the invitation on a fence post, says she thought the Forest Service must be trying hard to “fit into our town.”

Betsy Marston is the editor of High Country News, based in Paonia . She can be reached at HCN, Box 1090, Paonia CO 81428 or betsym@hcn.org.