See you in Spring

by Betsy Marston, Jonathan Thompson and Rachel Waldholz

In our 22-issue-per-year publishing schedule, we'll be skipping the next issue. Look for HCN in your mailbox again around April 12, and in the meantime check our Web site, hcn.org, for news and commentary.

SMALL-TOWN DISCOVERIES
Intern Nick Neely had only been working at High Country News for three weeks when he happened to stroll past Paonia's only supermarket, just across the alley from the office, and made an amazing find. "Don's Market lost a cooler," he announced, "and they're dumping loads of ice cream!" Off Nick went to Dumpster-dive, followed by several HCN staffers thrilled by the opportunity to pluck ice cream bars and frozen English muffins, waffles and chocolate cake from a grungy giant Dumpster. Fortunately, the frozen food was piled so high that no actual diving was required, although long arms helped. "I call this recycling, not diving," said one passerby, who scarfed up enough food to last a week. Traffic in the alley quickly backed up as the word went out about the Miracle of the Market. And within just a few hours, the Dumpster was empty.

Speaking of discoveries that draw scavengers ... In the latest issue of the Canyon Country Zephyr, Jim Stiles' famously curmudgeonly "cyber-rag" out of southeast Utah, a letter writer bemoans the potential "discovery" of his town by theĀ  industrial recreation crowd. He says he doesn't want his town -- listed in his signature simply as "Somewhere in Colorado"-- to become, well, another Moab, and a planned mountain bike and beer festival threatens to do just that. (Of course, so could singing the town's praises in the Zephyr.) And though Chris Carrier did his best to keep his hometown's name secret, the headline read: "The Bike Fest Disease Now Festers in Paonia." Oops. And, errr, ... welcome!

FAREWELL, SAM HAMILTON
Sam Hamilton, the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, died Feb. 20 after suffering chest pains while skiing with friends outside Frisco, Colo. A resident of Atlanta, Ga., he was just 54.

Hamilton had been on the job only five and a half months, but he'd already laid out an ambitious new agenda for the agency. In an interview with Climatewire in December, Hamilton stressed that the Fish and Wildlife Service needed to anticipate how climate change will affect ecosystems, and plan accordingly.

Conservation plans will need to account for drought, disease, rising temperatures and invasive species, he said, and provide corridors for impacted species to migrate to new habitats.

Many conservationists have embraced Hamilton's approach, though some worry that his changes would come at the cost of the agency's traditional mission: interpreting and enforcing the Endangered Species Act, and managing the national wildlife refuge system. The agency faces a massive backlog of species nominated for protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Hamilton was a 30-year veteran of Fish and Wildlife, serving as the agency's Texas state administrator and then Southeast regional director before Obama appointed him to the director's seat last June. While working in the Southeast, he supervised the agency's restoration of the Florida Everglades, and its wetlands recovery efforts along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.

Rowan Gould, deputy director of operations under Hamilton, will serve as acting director until President Obama nominates a replacement. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told Environment News Service that "Sam was a friend, a visionary, and a professional whose years of service and passionate dedication to his work have left an indelible mark on the lands and wildlife we cherish."

--Betsy Marston, Jonathan Thompson and Rachel Waldholz for the staff

© High Country News