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There’s a proposal to designate 215,000 acres of new wilderness land in Idaho’s Colville National Forest (above). The interesting thing about the proposal is that it has the support of the timber industry, enviros, ranchers and recreational groups — not really a group that often finds much agreement. According to the Spokesman-Review newspaper, the different factions worked together to develop a plan where every group gets more of what they want from the Colville. An inspiring tale.

• A Senate Appropriations subcommittee opposed the idea of reducing mail delivery to five days a week. “Folks in rural and frontier communities often rely on their Saturday mail to bring them the things they need to live,” said Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. “Unlike in urban areas where folks can walk down the block to the local drug store, many Montanans live long distances from the nearest pharmacy or newsstand. Getting mail six-days per week is part of what keeps rural America strong and thriving.” 

•The turmoil surrounding Shirley Sherrod’s firing at USDA has spurred news reports about the various suits filed by groups claiming the agency has discriminated against blacks and Native Americans. The Washington Post reports this morning on a case brought by Native Americans alleging discrimination at USDA, Keepseagle v. Vilsack. The suit alleges that loan officers used racial slurs (“injuns,” for example) and that complains resulted in no reprimands or change in behavior. One confrontation with a USDA loan officer came as late as February and required the presence of law officers. The sordid details are here

• The state of Massachusetts will spend up to $10 million to open the Boston Public Market, which will carry foods from the region. “Some local food producers said the market will provide a significant economic boost by giving them direct access to customers, instead of selling to wholesalers or local restaurants,” wrote reporter Casey Ross. “Today, we can only get to customers directly through our website or through our place in Duxbury,’’ said Chris Sherman of Island Creek Oysters. “This is a great way to grow the retail side of the business.’’ 

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