In the tradition of Jack Kerouac and Forrest Gump, a number of environmentalists began a cross-country trek on foot earlier this month. However, unlike Kerouac and Gump, these travelers have a very clearly-defined goal: permanent protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. The Refuge, also known by the acronym ANWR may be in jeopardy, depending on the results of the U.S. midterm elections in November, 2002.
Critics of the Bush administration suggest that the president’s public affairs spinmeisters came up with this name because ANWR sounds like a place to drill for oil, whereas Arctic National Wildlife Refuge sounds like a place where the deer and the caribou play.
As a preemptive strike, environmental activists from all over the country have planned a march to Washington, D.C. to voice their concerns over the future of the Arctic Refuge. One group will leave Saratoga Springs, NY on Sept. 14. Another group will begin from Kansas City, Mo. on Oct. 12, and the group which took off from Seattle on Aug. 23 will meet up with the other two in D.C. on Nov. 16, nearly three months after departing Seattle. The Seattle group will be rolling into Missoula Sept. 5 and will take a brief pause in their march for a wildlife slide show at the Roxy’s new International Wildlife Film Festival and Media Center.
The Wildlife Refuge has become a pet project not only of environmentalists, but of celebrities as well. Robert Redford has been desperately circulating an on-line petition, part of which reads, “Only one group of Americans will benefit from the destruction of the Arctic Wildlife Refuge: the oil giants. Everyone else loses. Arctic wildlife populations will decline, the Gwich’in people will see their land marred by pipelines and poisoned by oil spills, you and I will become even more dependent on oil, and the planet will suffer catastrophic global warming from the burning of even more fossil fuel.” Maybe Redford’s time on the shores of Montana’s rivers during the filming of A River Runs Through It helped generate a drive for environmental activism. Though, it probably wouldn’t help much to cast Dick “Oil Baron” Cheney for the sequel.
Live from Deer Lodge Prison with a boy named Sue: A Canadian woman has filed a multimillion dollar lawsuit against the state of Montana, the federal government and others, alleging that her civil rights were violated during a 1999 visit to Big Sky Country. According to the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition, Alexandria Nicole Tucker was visiting Montana four years ago when she was arrested by police in Helena during an altercation involving a weapon. Tucker, a Canadian citizen and a pre-operative transexual, alleges that she was taken to a county detention facility where she was denied repeated requests to see an attorney. Tucker also claims that she was refused medical treatment and access to her prescription hormonal therapy, and during her seven-month in jail awaiting trial and subsequent incarceration at the State Prison in Deer Lodge was subjected to harassment, threats of violence and assault, and other indignities. Tucker was released from custody Aug. 14, 2002 and has since returned to Canada. Although she has filed suit, she says she has yet to find an attorney to represent her in case. Anyone interested in her case may contact Vanessa Edwards Foster at 832-483-9901, or visit www.NTAC.org.