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The Planet

Grizzly Bears Barred From Bitterroot

Thwarting an eight-year-long citizen-driven planning process, the Department of the Interior will scrap plans for grizzly bear reintroduction into the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness on the Montana /Idaho border. The Fish and Wildlife Service decided in November to go ahead with reintroduction, but Interior Secretary Gale Norton overrode that decision in June.

Snowmobiles Roar Again

The Bush administration has halted a Clinton-era rule to ban snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park, among other sites. Responding to concerns about air pollution and habitat disruption, the rule originally barred snowmobiles as of winter 2003, but in response to a lawsuit from the snowmobile industry, the Department of the Interior says it won't decide until November 2002 whether the rule will stand.

Ponying Up for The Pill

One of President Bush's first acts in office was to strip funding for birth control from federal employees' health care packages in his proposed budget. In July, the House of Representatives voted to restore the funding, which would affect 1.2 million female federal employees.

Congress Spares National Monuments

President Bush's proposal to open up the country's national monuments to mineral leasing and oil exploration got the big thumbs down from Congress this summer. In their respective versions of the Interior Appropriations bill, House members voted in June and the Senate followed suit in July to protect wild places. Public opinion research shows that 68 percent of Americans oppose drilling in national monuments.

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