Dear Friends

  • Consensus cartoon

    Rob Pudim

Plaudits for the Poppers

Frank and Deborah Popper are the mom-and-pop Darth Vaders of the Great Plains. The scholars from New Jersey coined "Buffalo Commons" to describe the turn they want the depopulated region to take.

Harsh feelings against the Rutgers University-based pair will not be softened by the American Geographical Society, which recently awarded them the first Paul P. Vouras Medal for regional geography. The citation reads:

"The Great Plains deplores artificial boundaries, having determined its own. In recent centuries, settlers and governments from long-subdued lands have laid down their puny state and national borders upon this dynamic landscape ...

"With the eyes of mature scholarship ... the scholars we honor now looked at the Great Plains and saw a land gripped ever more tightly and desperately by inhabitants who did not understand it. These two scholars have increasingly and devotedly worked both to free the Great Plains to be its own complex, muscular self - the region it had become over thousands of years of environmental trial and error; and to enable its human inhabitants to ameliorate their patterns of mistaken occupancy."

Visitors and other news

Chuck and Joann Howe of Boulder stopped by on their way home from Grand Junction. Chuck is an economist at the University of Colorado.

Subscriber Cal Elder of Woodland Park, Colo., tells us: "I decided against running for re-election as Teller County Commissioner, thereby creating my own term limit." But he has a new cause: putting the 1,320-acre Catamount Ranch near Woodland Park into open space. Almost $900,000 has been gathered, with $200,000 left to go; for information on a Paul Annan wildlife print available to contributors, contact Cal Elder at 719/687-1431.

Dick Whelan of Denver and Chris Norris of Herndon, Va., brothers-in-law, stopped by, scouting Colorado's Western Slope. Dick is semi-retired and Chris is a custom-home builder.

We assume reader Jerry Rapp of Rapp Guides and Packers would eventually have visited HCN. But since he was taking his own time about it, some staffers spent a day with him, touring his ranch south of Mancos, Colo., and adjacent BLM land, and seeing, thanks to his knowledge of the area, cougar scuffs and tracks, packrat middens, remnants of Anasazi pit houses, finely worked rock tools, and rock burns left by the Anasazi.

Thanks to reader Mykie Stanford of Alamosa, Colo., for sending the strange photo she thinks of as "composted scarecrow." She drove by a pair of legs upside down in a pile of leaves in California's Mendocino County and "had to turn around to see what I thought I saw." Our photo by Dewey Vanderhoff of booted legs, jutting out of a haystack, jogged her photo file memory.

Heather Coons, who works for the Chevron Conservation Awards program, called to say the deadline for applying for awards to environmentalists has been extended to May 14. Applicants are wanted. Fifteen winners are chosen and each is honored with $2,000 and a reception at the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of Natural History. Call 415/894-6083 for an application.

We heard from Ted Wolf, director of communications for Ecotrust, the foundation involved in restoring Willapa Bay (HCN, 3/17/97). He gently prodded us to correct his title. We'd elevated him to president and "Spencer (Beebe) hasn't yet told me what he thinks of my ascension."

To deft cartoonist Rob Pudim of Boulder, Colo., our warm thanks for his donation to this paper of his front-page illustration of folks working at consensus (HCN, 5/13/96). His wonderful Western characters are smiling but there's also a hint of gritted teeth, signaling just how hard it is for people in the West to find common ground. The drawing has been reproduced in at least seven periodicals; anyone who would like to use it should give us a call.

* Ed and Betsy Marston for the staff

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