Balancing act, part 2
The cover story of this issue is the second in our series, "California's Water Balancing Act." In it, veteran journalist Susan Zakin writes about the state's water hub: the California Delta. The delta, just inland from San Francisco Bay, collects a mammoth one-half of the state's rainfall and snowmelt each year. From there, water is parceled out to farms and cities to the south.
On the surface, this is a classic tale of water, money and power. But it also poses the question of whether California can solve its water woes without leadership from the Bush administration.
It seems like an appropriate time to be writing about water. Here in Paonia, the summer heat wave has finally broken, and the rains have been rolling through in waves. It's too late for the hay fields and the corn crop, which just squeaked by this summer. It's too late for the berries and the mushrooms, which didn't make much of a showing this year.
But the water is a welcome sight for the parched residents of Colorado's Western Slope. It's giving us hope, as the aspen leaves begin to fringe with gold, that the snow will pile up in the high country this winter, and that, with a little luck, the reservoirs will be full again next spring.
Summer's end brings a new batch of interns to High Country News. Jamie McEvoy admits to getting a "good vibe" when she first visited Paonia in May. Then she rolled east for a summer of relentless humidity in Boston, Mass., where she worked as an intern for National Public Radio's environmental news program, Living on Earth. Now she's back, grateful to be surrounded by high mountains and low humidity.
This May, Jamie received an environmental studies degree from Utah State University in Logan, where she grew up. As a student, she ranged far beyond Utah, working and studying in New Zealand, Costa Rica and Spain. This past spring in Mexico, Jamie researched a nonprofit organization's efforts to promote energy-efficient straw bale/adobe homes among low-income families in Sonora. Between interviews, Jamie got her hands dirty, mixing straw and mud for construction.
"I used to be more concerned about the plants and wildlife," Jamie says, "but living abroad brought me to think more about people in ecosystems, too."
As soon as new intern Joshua Zaffos arrived at HCN headquarters, he slapped a bumper sticker on his bulletin board that reads, "I'd rather be zipping my fly ... through a trout stream."
Joshua grew up in New Jersey, but he's spent a lot of time out West, especially in Western rivers. He first came west to work for The Nature Conservancy, teaching visitors in Island Park, Idaho, about natural history and the Henry's Fork River. He later studied the effects of bank-stabilizing "rip-rap" on the Yellowstone River, and researched issues ranging from riparian restoration to environmental economics. He got his feet wet in environmental journalism a few years ago, publishing articles in HCN's Writers on the Range and The Seattle Times.
With a B.A. in political science, Joshua had a good grasp of environmental policy, but he wanted a better understanding of the science behind environmental issues. Two years ago, he decided to pursue a master's in environmental management at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Fresh from graduation in May, Joshua says he'd like to continue sharpening his writing skills to bridge the gap between policy and ecology.
Durango, Colo., has become a haven for wilderness activists, say Mike Matz and Victoria Simarano, who dropped by our office in late August. Matz is a former director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and the current director of the Campaign for America's Wilderness, funded by the Pew Charitable Trust. Simarano is a former Sierra Club political director, who has started up a new political action committee called WILD PAC, dedicated to electing pro-wilderness candidates.
In Durango, they've just joined four staffers from The Wilderness Society's Wilderness Support Center, who are spearheading what they call a wilderness renaissance in the U.S. The ultimate goal, says Matz, is to double the amount of land designated as wilderness, from the current 4.7 percent of the land base (including Alaska) to nearly 9 percent. We'll be taking a closer look at the politics of wilderness in an upcoming issue. Roger and Stephanie Singer of Boise, Idaho, came through with their sons Zachary and Matthew. Roger works for the Sierra Club chapter back in Boise and told us about a collaborative resource-management effort in the Owyhee Canyonlands. The family was heading off to Fort Collins next. John Moore, just retired from California Air Resources Board, was driving around western Colorado trying to see the scenery in early September. When the rain and fog prevented that, he headed to Paonia and found us. John has been subscribing to High Country News since the early 1970s.
Longtime subscriber Thurbie Markoe, from California's Santa Cruz Mountains, stopped by the paper en route to his high school reunion in Maryland. We're not sure what reunion it was, but it must have been a big one, because he graduated from Western State College in Gunnison, Colo., 36 years ago. He's a retired teacher of natural history and history. Heather Kibbey and her sons Ian and Morgan Holman were road-tripping around the Southwest, all the way from Washington's Key Penninsula. Heather is a water-quality specialist with Pierce County, Wash. The boys were very excited about the dinosaur museum at Thanksgiving Point in Utah.
And there were a few visitors we missed. Michael Tetreault, western Colorado director for The Nature Conservancy, stopped by when we were out. And Bernard Rubenstein, who lives in Santa Fe, N.M., and is conductor of the San Juan Symphony Orchestra, left us a note regarding his son, Alexei, who was an HCNintern the summer of 1994: "Alexei graduated from Columbia Journalism (School) and has been a news director for Alaska Public Radio for these last years - in the bush in Dollingham, and later in Homer."
A correction, and credit due
Salida, Colo., author Susan Tweit wrote to correct our obituary of David Love (HCN, 9/16/02: A legend of the land): "Although David died in Casper, he lived (and his wife Jane still lives) in Laramie with a summer home on Dinwoody Creek, above Dubois. The mountains he hiked in until earlier this year were those he'd haunted all his life: the Absarokas, the Winds, and the Gros Ventre," not the Laramie Range above Casper, as we'd written.
HCN founder Tom Bell wrote his own eulogy to Love, which appears in the letters section of this issue.
Jim Bishop wrote to tell us he didn't deserve all the credit for the story about efforts to turn small-diameter trees into affordable housing on the Navajo Reservation (HCN, 9/2/02: Closing the loop). "Patricia Denisonwas a research and reporting assistant to me for the piece," he says. "She is a crackerjack member of Audubon here and was a big help."
A message to Iraq
Finally, we send our apologies to Nabiel Samer of Baghdad, Iraq. They may never reach Nabiel, just as the latest issue of HCN didn't: It was bounced back to us by the U.S. Postal Service with the message, "Return to sender. Service temporarily suspended." Here's hoping Nabiel catches this note on our Web site, hcn.org.