Dear Friends

  • George and Anne Norris feed the deer in the late 1960s

  • Elk one, fence zero

    Erwin A. and Peggy Bauer

Please, please, please

The circulation department is mailing 700 requests to subscribers, asking this select group for their "official" addresses. These letters will get to you because we're sending them - gasp! - first class, but your copies of HCN are now running the risk of being marked undeliverable by the post office because our barcoding computer program can't translate your address to the P.O.'s specifications. So, please, when you get our envelope, embellished with a petroglyph, contact your post office and get your rigidly correct address. Then return it in the postage-paid envelope we are also sending.

Thank you

A muscular mountain goat, a yawning coyote pup, an elk toting a tangle of barbed wire on its antlers - these photos, plus some 60 more, were just donated to High Country News by Wyoming photographers Peggy and Erwin Bauer. Our pages and our photo files are the richer for their generosity.

We also thank ARCO's West Elk coal mine for showing five HCN staffers through its mini-city 1,500 feet underground, 10 miles north of Paonia. The mine is equipped with a "longwall" machine, which slices off coal as a massive blade moves across the coal seam. Production is an astounding 6 million tons a year, making it the fifth-highest producing underground coal mine in America. Since the mine will exhaust its coal reserves by the year 2017, HCN's Heather Abel asked why the company didn't slow production, stretching out the mine's life. Economics, she was told. The latest news from ARCO is that all its coal properties, including the West Elk, are for sale.

Deer in the dinette

Thanks to Anne Norris for bringing in photos and her history of her family's remarkable relationship with hundreds of deer during the 1960s and early 1970s. It is a relationship that drew TV reporter Charles Kuralt to their backyard in Somerset, Colo., close to what is now ARCO's coal mine. The deer began visiting the home of Anne, George and their sons, Ken and Ron, to nibble on their five fruit trees. Most people would have been upset; instead, the Norris family began feeding the deer culled fruit donated by local growers. Soon dozens of deer began dropping by, some of which would walk into the house.

The deer attracted sightseers from all over western Colorado. Deer would sometimes fight, but not a single animal was ever wounded, Anne Norris recalls. "One day a doe reared up on her hind legs and slapped a small, three-point buck on the head with her front feet and knocked both of his antlers off at once. He was a surprised little buck!"

In a manuscript about those deer-filled winters, Anne Norris, now 85, tells us that her late husband grew up in a log cabin on an isolated homestead, seven miles from the coal town of Somerset. As a teenager, he became the sole support of his mother and four brothers. The family survived by eating deer that George poached, and although even the game wardens knew about the poaching, nobody told. "They'd search the property in such a way that the evidence was never found," she writes.

The family survived those hard years and later, says Anne Norris, her husband repaid the animals with bushels of fruit and protection from hunters.

In other news

Subscriber Joe Bennion writes from Spring City, Utah, to say: "We enjoy your paper; here is ours." His is the Horseshoe Mountain Pottery News and it made us want to drive right to Spring City, and visit what looks like a fascinating small town. Joe gets in some plugs for his pottery, but much of the newsletter is about the Historic Home Tour that Spring City holds each Memorial Day. We're late letting you know about this year's tour, but that may be to the good, for Joe warns:

"Well over half of the structures on the tour this year have been purchased and restored by people who first came to Spring City on an early Home Tour day and saw what could be done with an old home or cabin ..." Joe doesn't tell people that Spring City is filling up - he's too subtle for that - but he does write, "I hope that the tour has encouraged people to go back to their own towns and find structures to restore there as well."

For your copy of the Pottery News, write Box 186, Spring City, UT 84662, or call 801/462-2708.

Chuck Davis, a Colorado State University professor and HCN subscriber, writes: "I thought you might be interested in an update on a former intern, Steve Ryder. He received a Ph.D. in environmental politics from CSU's political science department this spring, and next fall he will be teaching environmental policy at Emory University in Atlanta."


Memorial Day at the office involved lots of visiting, including Denise Ackert and Thane Lever from Jackson, Wyo., who were visiting Julia Brown and DeWitt Daggett in Paonia.

Also in town were Linda Miller and her husband, Bruce Wolff, both of Washington, D.C. They were visiting Linda's daughter, Emily, an HCN intern. Linda, who is president of the Volunteer Trustees Of Non-Profit Hospitals, left us a how-to publication she has written on how communities can keep for-profit health outfits from stealing their nonprofit hospitals.

Reader Andy Selters from Bishop, Calif., dropped in to say hello en route from Carbondale, Colo., to Phoenix. Selters, a photographer and writer, is on tour with his slides of climbing adventures from Nepal to Pakistan to Alaska. "(Climbing) is really a pretty absurd activity, but some good things can come out of it," he says. He thanked us for covering the west edge of the Great Basin and promised the paper an essay, soon.

Staff ran into longtime subscribers Ron and Anne Collier at the Telluride Mountain Film Festival, which was, as always, a low-key but first-rate event. The Salt Lake couple said they were determined to make it to Paonia on Memorial Day, and thereby into Dear Friends, but they called early Monday morning to say that their two pre-schoolers had persuaded them, using non-verbal communication, that an extra 70 miles in the car was not a good idea. Nevertheless, here they are in this column, a direct rebuke to those who say the media are heartless.

- Ed Marston for the staff

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