Thursday, July 27, 2006

"One of the great risks of archaeology. . ." Western U.S. forests turning a bit too wild
For Dave Leveille, patrolling the biggest national forest in the contiguous United States has nothing to do with examining tree rings or dispensing hiking tips. He is a forest ranger with a badge and a 16-round sidearm, and every day brings new examples of the kind of unnatural things that people do in nature.

Leveille has been spat on, kicked, chased by snowmobilers and other off- road-vehicle riders. At least once a week, somebody calls him the kind of name that would bring a blush to the face of Smokey Bear, the Forest Service's mascot. And what happens in Las Vegas or Reno does not stay there; often it ends up in the neighboring Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, Leveille's six-million-acre, or 2.4-million- hectare, beat.