Dear friends

 

El Nino 1, Denver 0

The Denver area's horrendous weekend of Oct. 24-26 began with blowing snow and didn't quit until some 21 inches had fallen. The storm spared the western half of Colorado and most ski areas, but 10 people in the eastern part of the state, as well as livestock, died in the blizzard that began Friday afternoon. At Denver International Airport, which was sold to the public as weatherproof, some 4,000 people were held hostage by cancelled flights and an unplowed 11-mile access road.

Through it all, the airport director was out of town and out of touch, and a "breakdown in communications," as newscasters put it, occurred between DIA and the city of Denver: City and DIA officials said the access road was "open" early in the storm, even though it was physically closed.

Among those caught by the fiction were HCN board member Dan Luecke, his wife Rosemary Wrzos, and their son Andrew. They landed at DIA Friday evening, and drove out of the airport (no one told them not to) about 11 p.m. for the 30-minute trip home. They arrived at dawn, after hours of creeping along in bumper-to-bumper traffic that, around 2 a.m., Luecke said, congealed into immobility. They escaped by backing off the highway.

Had they been told by airport officials what awaited them on the road, they could have stayed at DIA through Sunday, feasting, according to a TV newscast, on sandwiches and burritos served by the Red Cross.

For awhile, it seemed that the DIA paralysis would turn into a disaster of national magnitude, but finally the Denver Broncos' plane took off during the storm, carrying the team to Buffalo and a 23-20 victory.

If you are curious about how an airport came to be placed, without a rail connection, on the blizzard-prone plains east of Denver, read Ray Ring's article, "What a long, strange trip it's been," in the Jan. 23, 1995, issue of High Country News. Back issues can be ordered by calling 800/905-1155, or the story can be read on the paper's Web site: www.hcn.org.

Writers and visitors

We heard recently from Robert E. Amon, the former insurance agent turned anti-logging activist who goes by the name Ramon. He's living in Mexico and still very much alive, he says, having survived both an operation for a brain tumor and persistent rumors of his demise. Ramon was back in Idaho briefly for the start of last summer's campaign to halt logging in the Cove-Mallard area of Idaho's Nez Perce National Forest. These days, he admits, he's a beach bum and a writer, not necessarily in that order.

Subscriber Keith Oswald of Sedona, Ariz., said he was sending a little something to "help keep High Country News solvent because your letter was either more persuasive this year or I took the time to read it. I like your balanced reporting," he added; "now, having demonstrated my high level of impartiality, let's get all those #$\%@# four-legged cattle locusts out of riparian areas!"

Subscribers Joe Campbell and Tani Converse stopped by after a disappointing hunt in the nearby West Elk Wilderness. The Denver-area couple said it wasn't lack of game that bothered them; it was being "harassed," they said, by a property owner who claimed they had trespassed.

Author Steven Hannon passed through Paonia one afternoon, on tour with his first novel, Glen Canyon, which was published in August. Hannon says the book was an effort to finish the job Edward Abbey started with the Monkey Wrench Gang - taking out Glen Canyon Dam. We're grateful to him for providing some of the photographs for this issue.

We just received volume 1, number 1 of a bouncy new student publication here in town. Called Phat, it's published by the Youth Opportunity Alliance Teen Advisory Board, and written by a dozen "phat heads' who visited this office for an initial pep talk. For a copy, write YOA, Box 34, Paonia, CO 81428.

We were sorry to hear of the death of journalist Robert Cahn, 80, a Boulder, Colo., resident who received a Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting for "Will Success Spoil the National Parks?" a series he wrote in 1968 for the Christian Science Monitor.

For youth

Several months ago, HCN mentioned that the Job Corps Center at Collbran, Colo., which provides education and vocational training to young people, needed books for a library. Vincent Ryan, the volunteer heading the drive, says the response from HCN readers and others has been strong. Among the gifts, Ryan says, was a high-quality general-interest personal library donated by subscriber John Sanclaria of Lafayette, Colo. If you would like to help, Ryan says there is still room on the shelves. He can be reached at 800/852-8988.

We normally associate "inner city schools' with New York or Chicago, but the West has what should probably be called "inner town" schools, such as Lincoln Park Elementary School in Grand Junction, a town of about 35,000 in western Colorado. Seventy percent of its students are on free or reduced-cost breakfast or lunch, and most come from homes headed by a single, usually low-income, parent.

But principal Barbara Voss says, "Teachers provide an after-school activities program, and our 245 students love our school and want to be here." In fact, she says, Lincoln Park is first-rate in all respects except one: "We do not have computers with CD ROMs in our classrooms. And our computer lab is way too small."

If you can help with computers or advice, please contact her at 600 N. 14th St., Grand Junction, CO 81501 (970/245-2836).

Correction

The Oct. 27, 1997, story on dam deconstruction by Marc Reisner contained two errors that were introduced here. The page 10 caption showing the pipes that will carry the Western Canal under Butte Creek says that "fish will pass freely through the pipes." They won't. It is the creek, and not the canal, that has fish. The article also says that the Butte Creek canals are going to be the first dams dismantled solely for the sake of fish. Two dams in Idaho were dismantled in the 1960s and 1970s solely to help fish.

- Ed Marston

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