New developments in stories we've been following recently.
CURWOOD: Time now to follow up on some of the news stories we've been tracking lately.
CURWOOD: The backlash against the National Monument designations that Bill Clinton rushed through at the end of his Presidency continues. Local commissioners in Oregon's Jackson County are now asking the federal government to reduce the size of Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument by two-thirds. Private land owners inside the boundaries of the Monument are worried about grazing, as well as access and land values. Biologists say the Monument protects important habitat links between ecosystems. Dominick Della Sala is a forest ecologist with the World Wildlife Fund. He says only the President or an act of Congress could reduce the boundaries of National Monument.
DELLA SALA: And this would be unprecedented, because most of the Monuments that we have across the nation, the adjustments that have been made have been to increase the size of the Monument, not to decrease their size.
CURWOOD: Della Sala says the delayed release of a management plan for Cascade-Siskiyou continues to hamper discussion over how the land will be used.
CURWOOD: Oregon has been called ground zero for the Earth Liberation Front, also known as ELF. That's the radical environmental group whose stated aim is to "inflict economic damage on those profiting from destruction and exploitation of the natural environment." ELF has claimed responsibility for acts of arson and vandalism across the country. Now new laws in Oregon treat ecoterrorism as organized crime. Actions like tree spiking and interference with agricultural research are now included under the state's anti-racketeering law, which means stiffer penalties. Democratic Congresswoman Darlene Hooley of Oregon has also introduced federal legislation calling for an information clearinghouse and more resources to fight ecoterrorism.
CURWOOD: Last summer's Cerro Grande wildfire in New Mexico prompted worries about radioactive contamination that might arise from the burned grounds of Los Alamos National Laboratory. Now the Interagency Flood Risk Assessment Team has concluded that the health threat from contaminated sediment is minimal. James Bearzi of the New Mexico Environment Department says elevated levels of some radioactive and carcinogenic chemicals were found, but not at risky concentrations.
BEARZI: At a contaminated site, we might require a certain cleanup level. You have to cleanup, remediate your site, to a certain level of contamination. And the levels of contaminants that we saw with the fire, in most cases, didn't even approach those cleanup levels.
CURWOOD: The team looked only at the human health effects of flooding, not ecological impacts. It does recommend that people avoid eating plants grown in ash from the burned area.
[NEWS FOLLOWUP THEME MUSIC]
CURWOOD: And that's this week's follow-up on the news from Living On Earth.
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