Items by Joan Nice

Family gaining independence with sun, wind, wood
The Ricks family in Rexburg, Idaho experiments with new technology and makes much of it themselves, including an all-electric car.
Tommie Bell: Supporter and sustainer
Muriel "Tommie" Bell, wife and partner of HCN founder Tom Bell, is fondly remembered as a strong, loving, sustaining woman.
A grizzly situation
Yellowstone National Park's image is being been tarnished by disturbing facts emerging about one of the western wilderness' most critical ingredients: the grizzly bear.
Politics: A perpetual mirage
One can be a technotwit, a businessman, a flower child or even a woman and win elections in the Rockies, but it helps if one also knows how to swing a rope, or at least a fly rod.
'Privatizing' the commonweal
After weeks of secrecy, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management revealed a list of more than 4.3 million acres of public land that may be sold to reduce the national debt.
Ferrets: The prognosis is good
Outside Meeteetse, Wyo., the debate has shifted from whether black-footed ferrets exist to how to ensure their survival.
Safety grows and innovation slows
With the rise of innovative heating systems and home designs, often owner-built, building codes are becoming more controversial.
Rebels revel in new power, polish
Now that the Sagebrush Rebels have a president and half a dozen conservative senators sympathetic to their cause, their goal of turning over federally managed lands to the states looks more tangible than ever.
The silent generator's costs come down to earth
Today solar electricity is running, among other things, a remote refrigerator, a radio repeater, a national park building and a backwoods out-house in the Rocky Mountain states. Six years from now, the U.S. Department of Energy predicts that solar cells will be cheap enough even for the average biscuit baker.
Solitude seekers disagree about open spaces
More than 174 million obscure acres in the West have been spotlighted by the Bureau of Land Management's wilderness inventory, which is now the subject of public scrutiny.
Hydrocarbon hunt leads to wilderness
Ambiguities in the Wilderness Act leave open the possibility of oil and gas development in Montana's Bob Marshall Wilderness and other wilderness areas.
Federal coyote control mellows; mutton-raisers talk mutiny
A recent policy shift made by the Interior Department in its Animal Damage Control program has generally pleased environmentalists and raised hackles among sheepmen, who see the action as a betrayal.
Crested Butte challenges mining's most sacred law
A group of Crested Butte, Colo., citizens are confronting the 1872 Mining Law as a way to stop AMAX, Inc. from extracting molybdenum from nearby Mt. Emmons.
Wind prospectors strike it rich in Medicine Bow
In the second article of a two-part series on wind energy, a giant wind-water generating system is proposed near Medicine Bow in southeastern Wyoming.
High prices, doubts plague wind power revival
Despite a resurgence of enthusiasm for wind power, expensive new wind turbines -- many of which are proving unreliable -- are undermining widespread adoption of the technology.
Stalemates spawn new breed: the eco-mediators
With varying degrees of success, mediation has been substituted for legal or political confrontation in a number of recent environmental battles.
Recharge could bring water, wildlife to dry plains
A plan to divert the South Platte River in order to recharge groundwater and ease an agricultural water shortage on Colorado's northeastern plains might also create wetlands that would provide needed wildlife habitat.
Passive heating and cooling, a solar Cinderella?
Although the Department of Energy has focused its attention on encouraging "active" solar technology -- which uses separate collectors, pumps and fans -- recent research indicates that "passive" systems are cheaper and more effective.
RARE II tables turn; conservationists enraged
When the Forest Service began its second Roadless Area Review and Evaluation (RARE II) a year ago, industry representative feared it. But now, as environmentalists and even agency officials themselves criticize the plan, timber and mining interests are the only ones who seem pleased.
NCAT gives help, gets criticism
The National Center for Appropriate Technology in Butte, Mont., is pushing projects that don't seem controversial -- solar heaters, wood stoves, windmills, greenhouses, and compost heaps. But after only a year in operation, NCAT is being criticized by other public interest groups, utilities, and the federal government.
Conservationists give Utah delegation a low rating
Utah environmentalists consider themselves practically without representation in Congress, as Senators Jake Garn and Orrin Hatch and congressmen Gunn McKay and Dan Marriott consistently thwart their efforts.
McGrew calls insulation push 'a consumer ripoff'
Jay McGrew, an independent energy conservation consultant, says "the insulation business is a little bit like the insurance business. The salesmen always want to sell you more than you need."
Colorado, maverick of the inland Western states
Colorado's congressional delegation has the best environmental voting record of any state in the Northern Rockies. Only on the issue of water has Colorado recently voted as a typical inland Western delegation.
Are commercial solar systems worth the price?
Enthusiasm for solar electric technology is being dampened by the reality that most consumers cannot afford it.
Solar heating industry troubled by installation, operating problems
The stories of solar homeowners indicate that harnessing the sun for heat by putting collectors on a roof may not be as simple as it appears.
Desolation Canyon becoming perhaps too popular
The Bureau of Reclamation may begin a reservation system for the Desolation Canyon section of Utah's Green River amid concerns about the growing number of river visitors.
Cowtown's manure means megawatts
A Colorado company called Bio-Gas claims it can provide rural electricity by harvesting and digesting cow manure to produce burnable methane gas.
Rod Nash sees end to the freedom of the hills
Roderick Nash, whose passion is exploring and preserving wilderness, sees wilderness not as an amenity, but as a powerful aid for overcoming a frontier mentality.
Utah legislature vows to make more and use less
Although Utah is one of the first Western states to require all new buildings to meet energy conservation standards, it has also been instrumental in pushing the controversial Intermountain Power Project coal-fired power plant.
Domestic technology offers low-income people opportunity
At a time when energy prices are making it increasingly difficult for people to make ends meet, Malcolm Lillywhite shows people simple technology that they can use to produce quality food and shelter at low cost.