Abe Jacobson and Carol Griffiths Jacobson were driving an unusual rig when they dropped by in May. Two kayaks and a canoe rode atop their van, which was stuffed with paddles, snowshoes, skis and just about every other outdoor toy you can imagine. This was no ordinary vacation, they explained; they were refugees.
The Jacobsons live in White Rock, N.M., just down-canyon from Los Alamos. As the Cerro Grande fire raged on the mesa, they got the order to evacuate. Rather than head for the shelters with 25,000 other evacuees, the Jacobsons headed for Colorado to have some fun. Abe, a physicist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory who monitors the globe for nuclear bomb tests, wasn't surprised by the blaze. Fire scientists have been predicting it for years, he said. They recommended thinning the dense, dog-hair thickets and using prescribed fire to clear out the understory, but few people in the community listened.
"This is a community living in a dream world," he said. "There were soccer moms saying, 'I don't want smoke in the air. I came here for a beautiful environment.' " Perhaps it was the unexpected vacation that had him upbeat, but he was optimistic about the fire's fall-out. "This is going to be the montane grassland restoration project of all time."
What a weekend
The board of directors of the High Country Foundation converged on Santa Fe and Albuquerque, N.M., May 18-20 for a dinner, a potluck, and a Saturday meeting that ran over into Sunday morning. Among other things, three new members were added to the board; former Interior Secretary Stewart Udall toasted High Country News at a Friday night party in Santa Fe; subscribers who attended the potluck at the Albuquerque Museum spontaneously formed an Internet affinity group; board and staff confronted the first-ever business plan in the paper's history; and board and staff were stunned to recognize just how big a mouthful the paper has bitten off in becoming a multimedia operation.
As they say on television, "details at 5," which in this case means the June 19 issue.
We hear that Boise, Idaho, activist and writer Michael Medberry suffered a stroke earlier this spring. The American Lands staffer is doing well physically, and is able to spend some time each day working on the proposed expansion of Craters of the Moon National Monument and the proposed Owyhee Canyonlands National Monument.
But finances are another matter, says John McCarthy of the Idaho Conservation League. So his friends have set up an account, with the following suggested sliding scale of contributions: If you would typically buy Mike one beer, send 50 bucks. If he's a two-beer friend, send $200. If you've made a recent killing in stocks, send $1,000. And if you live in Boise, think about dropping by with food or drink or to help mow the lawn.
Checks should be made out to the Michael C. Medberry Benefit Fund, and mailed to Melinda K. Harm, Box 1612, Boise, ID 83701.
In addition to money, John asks for the following on behalf of Mike: "Do what you can for the roadless initiative."
Lynn Dickey's legacy
We were saddened to hear that Lynn Dickey, a former resident of Buffalo and Sheridan, Wyo., died on May 21 in Winchester, Va., as a result of injuries suffered in an auto accident. She was 51.
Lynn leaves behind an astonishing legacy as an environmental activist, a legislator, a social activist, and a crusader for peace. She served eight years in the Wyoming State Legislature, she served on President Jimmy Carter's Environmental Council, and she was liaison between the Wyoming State Government and the Native American governments in Wyoming for former Gov. Mike Sullivan. She also spent eight years on the State Board of Education.
Environmentally, she was on the boards of the Wyoming Outdoor Council, and the State Environmental Quality Council. She cut her activist teeth in the 1970s with the Powder River Basin Resource Council, a group of ranchers and environmentalists that fought to control power plants and strip mines on the Great Plains.
Seeing a need, she founded CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Program in Sheridan, and the Shelter for the Homeless, also in Sheridan. She also found time to run and be a partner in The Book Shop in Sheridan for many years.
Lynn was the survivor of a blow that would have stopped a less determined and talented person: As a teenager, she was injured in an auto accident and thereafter used a wheelchair. But get around she did.
She was in Virginia to attend Eastern Mennonite University, where she was pursuing a master's degree in Peace Making. This was a return to her roots; after graduating from the University of Illinois in 1971, she spent a year as a volunteer in a Mennonite community.
Lynn was a member of the High Country Foundation board that voted, after great agony and two days of deliberation back in 1983, to move High Country News from Lander, Wyo., to Paonia. The board was evenly split on the issue, and would probably still be voting if Lynn had not changed her vote and sent the paper to Colorado.
If she had doubts about that decision, the new and unsteady Colorado staff never heard them. All we heard was excellent advice, wisdom and support until the day she decided to leave the HCN board because other nonprofits were in greater need of her help.
Survivors include her parents, Willard and Imogene Dickey of Buffalo; two sisters, Barbara Anderson of Gillette and Ellen Dillon of Cape Girardeau, Mo.; and two brothers, David Dickey of Conifer, Colo., and Paul Dickey of Buffalo.
Donations may be made in Lynn's memory to Habitat for Humanity or to the Governor's Task Force for Juvenile Justice. Contributions may be sent to Adams Funeral Home, 351 North Adams Ave., Buffalo, WY 82834; 307/684-2251.
An ornery environmentalist
We send our condolences to the family of Ken Parks, who died on May 22 at the age of 88, in his Delta, Colo., backyard, watering his apricot trees. Ken, a retired State Farm insurance agent, was in many ways a typical Western businessman with a conservative streak a mile wide. But although he was physically slight, there was room in Ken for another very wide streak: conservation. Ken loved to fish and hunt, and he was an invaluable ally in the 1980s when it came to the fight to keep the Gunnison River undammed and Delta County free of a coal-fired power plant. Ken is the perfect example of why it is so hard to understand politics in the Interior West.
Because of the unpredictable weather at this elevation, Paonia's environmental community celebrates Earth Day in May. But the idea is the same: to promote a non-polluting way of life and have some fun doing so.
To help with the celebration, four HCN staffers rounded up five reel mowers, kidnapped a neighbor child named Crystal Ratica, and pushed our way north on Grand Avenue and then east on Third Street.
There were two results. The High Country News Lack-of-Precision Mowing Team won second prize in the parade, and by the time we were done, there wasn't a blade of grass growing along the parade route.