Happy New Year from snowy Paonia, and a huge thanks to all of you who sent cards and treats to the office over the holidays. They certainly lifted our spirits, and, in at least one case, reminded us what this enterprise is all about. Tracy, who gave no last name and identified herself only as "an admirer in Utah," sent a homemade postcard with a quote from the late Edward Abbey:
"It is not enough to fight for the West; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here … Enjoy yourselves, keep the brain in your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those deskbound men with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: You will outlive the bastards."
Thanks also to all those who attended the High Country News holiday open house, and brought wonderful food and great conversation.
Calling all readers within striking distance of Sedona, Ariz.: The HCN board and staff will be meeting in Sedona on Saturday, Feb. 7. Everyone is invited to the potluck dinner following the meeting, at 6 p.m. at the Sedona Public Library, at 3250 White Bear Road. To RSVP, call Gretchen Aston-Puckett at 970-527-4898, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Bring a dish to share.
The new year brings a new feature to High Country News. On page 6, you’ll find the first in an ongoing series about the West’s colorful cast of characters. Under the tag line, "Uncommon Westerners," these profiles will give you not just insight into interesting people, but also some idea of how they’ve shaped the region — and how you might do the same.
UP AGAINST THE WALL
Our July 7, 2003, cover story, "Invasion of the Rock Jocks," about the dearth of environmental leadership within the rock-climbing community, is making waves.
In the January 2004 issue of Rock & Ice magazine, HCN gets a big "thumbs down." The magazine took our writer, Robyn Morrison, to task for "vilifying bouldering culture." Time magazine also earned a "Thanks for nothin’ " for an article following Robyn’s that documented the environmental damage done by climbers.
The nation’s largest climbers’ magazine, Climbing, takes criticism to heart, however. "We once could hide in ... the lonely expanses of the desert Southwest, but no longer," writes Jeff Achey in his Dec. 15 editorial. "We’re on the radar. Land managers have seen the fixed quickdraws hanging off our secret crags, and climbing management plans are on drawing boards across the nation. Our love for climbing makes us blind, but we must begin to see — see our impacts, as other land users will see them and judge them.
"If we don’t firmly align ourselves with the Greens," he warns, "a judgment day is coming."
Robyn’s latest article, the Dec. 8 cover story, "Riding the middle path," is getting some attention, too. Check out pages 16 and 17 of this issue.
In our Dec. 8 cover story, we gave credit for an anti-Owyhee Initiative Web site to Katie Fite of the Western Watersheds Project. Katie tells us that the Web site is also the handiwork of Erik Ryberg of Payette Forest Watch and Janine Blaeloch of the Western Land Exchange Project.