The Supreme Court decided last week to bar completion of the Tellico Dam on the Little Tennessee River because it would wipe out a species offish known as the snail darter. Considering the uproar that followed about amending the Endangered Species Act, it might be well to listen to Michael Bean, an attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund, who wrote an amicus brief in the case for a number of conservation organizations.
Bean, author of the only comprehensive study ever done on federal wildlife legislation, says, "Experience to date suggests that the Endangered Species Act has functioned well. Only the Tellico Dam has been thwarted, but the full range of issues in this case has not been made clear to the public. The TVA introduced the idea of the dam more than 10 years ago and planned to have a company build an industrial town on the banks of the reservoir that would be created. One company, Boeing, was interested, but then backed out because the project was not economically feasible. The principal reason for the dam evaporated, so the TVA came up with other reasons to justify the dam, such as facilitating barge traffic and offering flat-water recreation. But there are 22 other dams within a 60-mile radius of the Tellico site, and, moreover, the Little Tennessee is well worth saving because it is one of the very last free-flowing and clean rivers in the region.
"There is the question about benefits. The sole benefit that would be realized only by building the dam is $3 million worth of energy production a year, but by not building the dam and flooding the valley, the region gets $8 to $24 million in agricultural benefits each year.
"Then there is the issue of endangered species. In the minds of many, this issue pits the interest of human welfare against that of obscure creatures. If that were true, we could decide it quite easily by-putting human welfare first. But that is an erroneous characterization of the issue. It is one of balancing present quantifiable human benefits against those of the future. Examples are legion of species that do not seem of value to mankind but are. Penicillin from bread mold is one. The horseshoe crab, thought to be a pest by some, was found to have blood with unique properties that can detect certain toxins in intravenous fluids. Then there is the armadillo, which may serve as a source for a leprosy vaccine.
"The point of all this is that 'worthless' creatures are worthless only until such time as we discover a medical, scientific or other use for them, and if we are to allow their extinction when we can prevent it, we have lost for all time our ability to put them to productive use. One can find some irony in the fact that we are spending enormous amounts of money to discover evidence of life in outer space while at the same time some of us are content to watch countless numbers of species, about which we know nothing, disappear from the face of the earth."
The 1978 British Open could be the last important tournament held at St. Andrews, the spiritual home of golf. A local planning committee, the North East Fife District Council, has given a developer, British Transport, provisional permission to build a car park, swimming pool, two squash courts and about 45 chalet-style houses on the grounds of the Old Course Hotel. The property is next to the dog-legged 17th hole, which Arnold Palmer once picked as his favorite 17th. Trouble is, the land was zoned for commercial use some years back when the hotel was built, and the planning committee maintains that "if land is designated for commercial use, there are no grounds for refusal of planning permission."
Keith MacKenzie, secretary of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, says, "The development will have a ruinous effect on the 17th hole. Players on the 17th tee will have to contend with the noise from car engines and shouts from the pool. The hotel itself is already a horrible eyesore. To put 45 chalets surrounding it is to add insult to injury. I can see the bucket and spade brigade using the 17th fairway as a shortcut to the beach. With golf balls flying everywhere, there is danger of serious injury."
Despite the planning committee's announcement that "notices would be erected to dissuade the public from crossing the course," the Royal and Ancient has appealed to higher authority, the Secretary of State for Scotland, to have the development stopped. Thus far the response has not been satisfactory. The Secretary of State's office says it could intervene only if the issue were of national or international significance. Which prompted MacKenzie to retort, "If golf at St. Andrews is not national and international, then what is?"
OUT TO LAUNCH
After Dallas, Indianapolis is the largest city in the U.S. not on a navigable body of water, but that has not deterred Winston Knauss, 36, a professional wrecker—who boasts that he is the only spectator ever to serve time in a hockey penalty box after he got into a brawl on the ice—from building a 54-foot yacht in his backyard, bordering the diminutive White River. Knauss, who likes to say "I do anything different," began assembling the boat last fall after a dealer told him it would take a year and a half to get delivery on one he liked.
The first items Knauss bought were 18 portholes. He then hung a guy wire and a plastic sheet over his backyard construction site and went to work with a five-man crew. The boat, basically of fiber glass, is named Wrecking Crew and is furnished with artifacts Knauss has salvaged from his jobs. A shower and a steam bath come from the office of the board chairman of Inland Container in the old Inland Container Building. The walnut paneling and doorknobs come from Inland Container and the eighth floor of the demolished Farm Bureau Building, while the furnace, which will provide central heating, comes from a building that burned down and Knauss finished off. A 4½" pipe that serves as the core of a spiral staircase comes from a building he flattened at Methodist Hospital, and an old slot machine from the wrecked governor's mansion will go on board when the boat is finished.
Built to sleep 12, Wrecking Crew will be powered by twin 150-hp turbocharged diesels. There is a swimming platform at the stern, and beneath the stern, to surprise surfacing swimmers, are four Playboy centerfolds under glass. The top of the main cabin has been decked over to the stern to provide a 30 x 14-foot landing platform for Knauss' helicopter, which he landed at his former home in a fashionable suburb until neighbors got an injunction to stop him.
Knauss plans to take Wrecking Crew to Florida, where he has another home in Fort Lauderdale, via the Ohio, the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico. He expects to get past a low bridge on the interstate leading to the Ohio by trailering around it on a back-country road. But before he embarks from Indianapolis, he is going to launch Wrecking Crew in the White River with the help of two cranes. That should be in a couple of weeks. Why the White River, which barely offers more turning room than a tub? "If she happens to sink, the water is only eight feet deep and I won't lose her," Knauss says. "If I launched her down in Florida in deep water, I might never find her again."
His neighbors should be so lucky.
CLOSE TO MICKEY MOUSE
Between now and Aug. 1 the Los Angeles Rams are almost certain to announce they will become the California Rams and move from Memorial Coliseum to Anaheim Stadium in 1980. Meanwhile, Anaheim Stadium will be enlarged to seat 74,000. Stands will surround the entire field, with the right-field baseball stands made movable to provide better seats for football. In addition to the expansion, a development package will include a hotel/office complex, condominiums, a shopping center, a theater and perhaps practice facilities for the Rams. The concept includes linking Anaheim Stadium with Disneyland by monorail so fans can make a game a family weekend gala.
Rams owner Carroll Rosenbloom has agents looking for a beachfront home in Newport Beach, not far from Anaheim, while George Allen has been looking for a house in Orange County. But every time George comes back to his Palos Verdes estate, with its view of the Pacific on one side and the twinkling lights of Los Angeles on the other, he sighs and vows to commute.
L.A. Mayor Bradley wants the Rams to stay, but a source close to the team says, "The Rams are in Anaheim."
When Azby Chouteau, an amateur pilot from Westport, Conn., saw the Rockwell International ad for a sweepstakes promoting the brand new Rockwell Commander 114 Medalist Series aircraft, with one of the $73,600 planes as the prize, he swiftly calculated that he had more than an even chance. Chouteau designed sweepstakes contests for Coca-Cola and Quaker Oats among other companies, and he noted that the Rockwell ad was getting limited circulation by appearing only in flying magazines. Moreover, contestants had to be licensed pilots in the U.S. and Canada, and this would cut down on the number of entries. In addition, a reader had to write in for an entry blank or obtain one from his Rockwell dealer and then mail it back, and Chouteau says, "When you have two steps like this, people tend to drop out because of innate sloth."
Chouteau wrote in for an entry blank and had a printer make thousands of copies, all of which were filled in and returned. A local lawyer made sure this was legal and, in turn, retained a lawyer in Blair, Neb., where the drawing was to be held, to represent Chouteau.
Rockwell held the drawing a fortnight ago, and Chouteau won the plane. He had Rockwell ship it to him, and it is now for sale at list price. After expenses and taxes, Chouteau will pocket at least a $35,000 profit. He refuses to say precisely how many of the 165,000 entries Rockwell received were his, but he does admit, "Most of them were mine." As Chouteau puts it, "It was a lot better than going to the track."
Like characters out of a Nabokov novel, top U.S. chess players have a knack for doing themselves in by making the trivial disastrous. First there was Bobby Fischer, who in 1975 forfeited his world championship to Anatoly Karpov of the Soviet Union because of an argument with the International Chess Federation about the rules of their proposed match. This year Fischer seized on the same issue to pass up the chance to challenge Karpov. Now comes Walter Browne, the grand master from Berkeley and the best active player in the country.
Browne, who has been the U.S. titlist since 1974, was to play in the U.S. Championship, which began last week in Pasadena. Maybe the site—Ambassador College, Fischer's hangout—had something to do with it, but Browne, already upset because the tournament conflicted with a tour he had planned, began to find fault with the playing hall. The lighting was intolerable; among other things, it was not fluorescent. Then, when the tournament director wouldn't let him move his table exactly where he wanted to (it blocked the aisle, the official said), Browne stalked out, forfeiting his first-round match.
That night, a committee of three players made a conciliatory ruling. Browne could have his table where he wanted it, but the forfeit would have to stand. Browne balked, complaining that this was too much of a handicap. The committee pointed out that Fischer had forfeited his first game to Boris Spassky in 1972 but still came back to win. No way, said Browne.
By departing from the championship, which leads into interzonal matches, Browne gave up any chance to play in the next world championships in 1981, for which he was this country's principal hope.
THEY SAID IT
•Jackie Moore, Toronto Blue Jay coach, on being told John Kenneth Galbraith was on the same airline flight: "Oh yeah, I remember him. Short guy, mustache, played third base for Pittsburgh."