Items by Joan Nice

Sheet metal firm sells 'Sun Grabber'
Don Erickson is a modest, cautious man. These qualities set him apart from most other solar energy equipment manufacturers eager to build a market for a new product.
Ranchers weigh grazing rules
The first revisions of the Bureau of Land Management's grazing rules in 40 years are being applauded by some environmental groups and viewed with skepticism by some grazing groups.
AERO dramatizes alternative energy
With its New Western Energy Show, Montana-based Alternative Energy Resources Organization spreads the solar and wind gospel -- old Western medicine man style.
You can invent an energy system
At a conference hosted by Montana-based Alternative Energy Resources Organization, participants were encouraged to start tinkering -- to design a home-built solar energy system out of local materials that would suit their particular climate, site, and financial resources.
Should you buy solar now -- or wait?
HCN talks with architect and engineer Dick Crowther about whether the smart consumer should hold out for lower prices, better technology, and companies with better established reputations.
Salesmen with sun power woo West
The solar energy industry is a booming business, containing all of the perils of rapid growth -- fast-buck men, scant history, few standards and regulations, and consumer confusion.
Mike Frome nails resource scandals
Conservation writer Michael Frome is well-qualified to comment on the risks of speaking out -- he's spent much of his career nailing down natural resource scandals and naming the people responsible, and has lost two jobs for his candor.
NEPA at stake?
After losing a lawsuit involving grazing allotments, the Bureau of Land Management has expressed concern that the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) -- considered to be the country's most important environmental law -- is making the agency vulnerable to lawsuits that drain time and resources, raising questions about that law's future.
Save-the-range lawsuit riles ranchers, BLM
An environmental lawsuit aimed at stopping abuses on public lands is causing management problems, according to the Bureau of Land Management in Wyoming, although in both Nevada and Oregon, BLM officials are in the process of implementing range improvements.
Slowing energy growth gives us time to choose
Can you imagine a U.S. energy future which doesn't require immediate and massive commitments to western coal and oil shale development, nuclear power, offshore oil or foreign imports? Such a future is possible, according to the Ford Foundation's Energy Policy Project.
Is the Sierra Club in the national interest?
A public debate in Casper, Wyoming, this month focused on an oil man's query: Are the energy-related policies of the Sierra Club in the national interest?
Charlie Scott: from Wyoming to Washington D.C. (and back again)
Charlie Scott, a rancher south of Casper Mountain in Wyoming, challenged himself as a bureaucrat in Washington D.C. for five years, but is pleased to be back in the West.
Friend of the earth and strip mine showman
Ed Dobson wanted to be a baseball player, and later, a sports broadcaster. But a hike to the Grand Canyon clinched his future in the West, and he now runs a traveling show about the ills of strip mining.
Gadflying and gathering facts
Peter and Katherine Montague are dedicated to dissolving the reticence that has traditionally characterized Western towns, and have been building an "information bank" in the Southern Rockies.
A saga of Steamboat Springs
In 1970, faced with rapid growth, Steamboat Springs residents' opinions of zoning had turned from opposition to action, but it is looking like their efforts were too late.
Jerry Plunkett, inventor
Jerry Plunkett, the angry, outspoken-yet-gentlemanly president of Materials Consultants, thinks that the country needs fresh approaches to the energy problem.
Western site sought for A-wastes
Nuclear waste disposal used to be a quiet topic of study. But now that hazardous radioactive leftovers are scheduled to move into Nevada, Idaho, or Washington, the topic is making headlines.
Utilities and air advocates clash
Industries interested in Wyoming confronted an outspoken assortment of Wyoming people at hearings on the state's proposed sulfur dioxide regulations in Cheyenne this month.
Invisible poison -- sulfur dioxide
Sulfur dioxide -- which creates sulfuric acid when it comes into contact with air and water -- is increasing in the West with each new coal-fired power plant, destroying crops, damaging trees, and increasing hospital admissions.
Rancher/environmentalist Art Fawcett
Despite his ranch duties and his job as chairman of the Wyoming group of the Sierra Club, Art Fawcett still finds time to add to an impressive collection of wildflower and wildlife photos and participate in local community life.
Mitchell's mountains
Finis Mitchell, whose family came to Wyoming with a span of mules, a wagon, and a cow in 1906, has climbed 195 mountains, including Gannett Peak, the tallest point in Wyoming.
Egan O'Connor and nuclear pollution
Through a group called the Task Force Against Nuclear Pollution, Egan O'Connor has helped locate, computerize, and wave in front of Congress the names of nearly 81,000 Americans who want to turn off nuclear fission.
Energy boom -- plans and payments
A look at how Montana and Wyoming towns booming from energy development -- Rock Springs, Gillette, Hanna, Colstrip, Lame Deer -- are responding to pressures on their infrastructure, schools, police, health services, and social fabric.
Solar industry emerges
A well-attended conference in Denver, sponsored by Environmental Action of Colorado, is a mark of maturity for an industry that is harnessing the power of the sun.
Harnessing limitless energy
As independent, idealistic inventors forge ahead with plans to heat buildings with the sun, traditional institutions and businesses are taking cautious steps in the same direction.
Bighorn sheep: a precarious balance
For the bighorn sheep who once grazed further down in the valleys than they do today, the rise of the cattle industry after the Civil War marked the beginning of their decline.
The Colorado Open Space Council
The Colorado Open Space Council is taking political organizing seriously after Colorado environmentalists were overrun by Denver Water Board's plan to divert water from the state's Western slope in order to feed Denver's growth.
Reusing and recycling wastes: Kicking the garbage habit
Faced with growing volumes of trash, states like Connecticut and Oregon are leading the way with programs to reuse and recycle solid waste.
Aspen battles bulge
As the ski resort town of Aspen, Colo., bursts with rapid growth, some county commissioners think the solution may be to let the community create its own zoning.
Joyce Jorgenson, editor
Ouray County Plaindealer editor Joyce Jorgenson's biggest battle has been fighting a power package designed by Kemmerer Coal Company of Wyoming.
Off the road
The users of more than five million off-road recreational vehicles (ORVs) -- motorcycles, four-wheelers, campers, and snowmobiles -- are having difficulty sharing the public lands with those who favor traditional forms of locomotion -- hikers, skiers, and showshoers.
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