Dear friends

 

An important anniversary

On Sept. 3, the Wilderness Act will turn 40 years old — an anniversary that comes as the Bush administration’s shift away from wildlands protection has highlighted just how political wilderness can be. And that’s exactly what the Wallace Stegner Center’s Ninth Annual Symposium is all about. "Wilderness: Preserving Nature in a Political World" will take place April 16 and 17 in Salt Lake City and bring together folks from all corners of the wilderness world — from grizzled wilderness warrior Dave Foreman to a new generation of grassroots organizers, as well as Colorado Republican and former county commissioner T. Wright Dickinson, and Assistant Secretary of the Interior Lynn Scarlett. Early registration ends April 5; information is available on the Web at law.utah.edu/stegner, or by calling 801-585-3440.

Condolences

We’re sad to report that Casper, Wyo., Star-Tribune opinion page editor and columnist Charles Levendosky died on March 14 after a long struggle with cancer. Levendosky, 67, was described by the Casper Star-Tribune as "a fierce defender of the First Amendment and civil liberties," whose columns were syndicated by the New York Times. But he also wrote about issues a little closer to home. Two years ago, Levendosky wrote a column for High Country News about the BLM’s newly created National Energy Office, one of the first actions in the campaign to make energy development on public lands a priority (HCN, 3/18/02: Bush turns BLM into energy machine).

Visitors

We got a visit from Stanley Dodson, a professor of zoology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dodson’s proud of his discovery of Dumontia oregonensis, a microscopic water flea that lives in temporary ponds in Oregon’s Agate Desert. But he also specializes in the effects of synthetic chemicals on freshwater organisms. Dodson mentored local hell-raiser Theo Colborn, one of the authors of the 1996 book Our Stolen Future, which details how chemicals are disrupting human hormones, causing birth defects and sexual abnormalities. Dodson’s letter to the editor discusses the impacts of pesticides on frogs.

As this issue’s feature story shows, conservation easements offer ranchers a way to stay on the land. Dorothy Kehmeier and Jim Low of the Delta, Colo.-based Tongue Creek Conservation Project stopped in while publicizing the state’s transferable tax credit, or "cash-for-conservation" program, which supports such easements. But just doing the paperwork to make easements happen takes money, so the group has started offering loans to landowners who don’t have the $15,000-$16,000 it takes to pay for transactions and appraisals.

Correction

We’ve received innumerable comments about Leland Howard’s photograph of "pioneer cabins" at the Pahreah townsite in Utah, shown on the Research Fund page in the March 1 issue. The site, which is in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, is actually a movie set, where films such as the 1970s-era The Apple Dumpling Gang and The Outlaw Josey Wales were shot. The two buildings shown in the photograph were rebuilt by local volunteers in 2002.