Dear Friends


It must be spring

Wyomingites Geneen Marie Haugen and David Titcomb stopped by on Memorial Day, hoping to get away from the snow and rain. "Fat chance," they reported. With no television reception or newspaper delivery at their house, they told us they like picking up High Country News for the latest scoop - even though it takes a 10-mile drive into the town of Wilson.

New subscriber John Milton, who runs a program called Sacred Passage, toured the office on his way over the Rockies from his home in Bisbee, Ariz., and Jay LeFevre of Golden, Colo., and a companion who gave his name only as "Mad Max," stopped in to inquire about kayaking spots on the ever-rising North Fork of the Gunnison River. They'd been on the road for two weeks, paddling the Animas, Yampa, Green and Colorado rivers. They judged the spring runoff to be "whirly, bouncy, goofy." Later that day we chatted with Tom and Delia Moder of Flagstaff, Ariz., who took a break after running the Dolores River in southern Colorado. Tom, a sociology professor, and Delia, an accountant and business manager, confessed they read HCN by borrowing a friend's copies.

New subscriber Cole Wist came by to tell us he'd left the fast lane in Washington, D.C., to return to his home town of Paonia, Colo., where he'd graduated from high school in 1981, and where his parents, Ron and Frankye, graduated in 1955. Cole, who worked for Rep. Howard Wolpe, D-Mich., was accompanied by his wife, Susan, and daughter Connor, 3.

Former intern Dan Cohen did not appear at the office but a birth announcement and photo arrived showing the latest addition to the family, in San Francisco, Calif. He is 8 lb. 15 oz Ethan Gabriel Linden, born to mother Mara and joining brother Sam.We also heard from Devin Odell, a former intern now in Mongolia with his wife, Maria. She is researching the local ecology of the 100th meridian east.

Devin writes that Mongolia struck him immediately as "the West before ... I'm not sure what, maybe before the first white man, before the railroads, before the interstates, before it was wrecked.

"The land rolls away to the horizon free of fences and property lines, paved roads and cities, ranged over by people on horseback and camel and yakback. It reminded me of something a friend said as we sat and fantasized about building a cabin on a sublime piece of public land: "I wish I'd been on this continent when there were only a million people here." " Yet a few months later, he says, he and Maria saw that the country, while sparsely inhabited, was "deeply inhabited - the ties of the people to the land and to the way of life the land demands are so established that the countryside seems "civilized" in a way that the American West does not." In short, he says, they feel they live in a neighborhood in what might have been the West "if the Indians had won." We look forward to a full account from Devin once the couple returns and he completes a last year of law school.

A final former intern note: Dave Havlick of Missoula, Mont., broke the soloist course record by almost five and a half seconds in the Peaks to Prairie Triathalon May 14. He covered the 74 miles between Red Lodge and Billings, Mont., in four hours, 19 minutes and 26 seconds. Congratulations to Dave, who biked, ran, and paddled a kayak.

Odds and ends

The editorial staff of High Country News was delighted to hear that the newspaper had won the 1995 Conservation Biology Award given by the Society for Conservation Biology. The group was founded in 1985 and now has over 4,200 members in more than 55 countries. Its president is Peter Brussard of the Biodiversity Research Center at the University of Nevada, Reno; its magazine, Conservation Biology, is edited by Reed Noss of the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University in Corvallis.

A town hall might seem an odd place for a meeting on a region as sprawling as the Colorado Plateau, but 200 people, including HCN editor Paul Larmer, thought it made enough sense to trek to Moab, Utah, this spring. The gathering brought together river rafters, ranchers, local officials and others to talk about what they valued and how they could help preserve the area's towns and wild places.

The more than a dozen organizers of the event, including the city of Farmington, N.M., Grand Canyon Trust, and the Western Network, a Santa Fe-based mediation group that ran the meeting, say they hope it fertilized the ground for new collaborative efforts. A follow-up meeting is planned for next summer; for more information write the Colorado Plateau Forum, 331 E. Mohawk Dr., Flagstaff, AZ 86001.

* Betsy Marston for the staff