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  • PENNED UP: Anti-nuclear protesters in Nevada

    Peter Chilson photo
 

Into the desert

HCN staffers Rita Murphy, Jason Lenderman, Sara Phillips and Peter Chilson and about 175 other anti-nuclear protesters walked onto the Department of Energy's Nevada Test Site Nov. 9. Without fuss, security guards escorted everyone right into a barbwire detention pen because it is unlawful to enter the test site without permission. Staffers then spent a couple of hours outdoors talking to other protesters, many of whom were with the Catholic Worker movement or a group called Nevada Desert Experience.

No one stayed long; county officials let everyone go and filed no trespass charges. Protests against nuclear bomb research and underground nuclear tests have become so large and frequent over the years that the county can no longer afford to process people through the courts. Said sheriff's deputy Obie Martin: "Nye County's too cheap."

Journalists get down

Staffers Paul Larmer, Greg Hanscom and Peter Chilson had hit the road earlier in the fall for Tucson, Ariz., where 400 members of the Society of Environmental Journalists were getting together. The energetic writer Tony Davis, who reports for the Arizona Daily Star, and frequently for High Country News, led a Sonoran Desert ecology tour in 100-degree heat.

The University of Arizona's Udall Center, a natural resources think tank dedicated to the legacy of the state's late, great politician, Mo Udall, sponsored the meeting. One of the center's projects involves collaborative decision-making, but while the center's leaders gave journalists solid evidence that the approach helps solve the West's controversial issues, they came under some criticism for excluding the Southwest's litigious powerhouse, the Southwest Center for Biological Diversity.

The HCN folks said the most rewarding part of pushing themselves away from their desks was meeting writers normally encountered only by phone, fax or e-mail, including Jane Braxton Little, Michael Milstein, Mark Muro, Rocky Barker, Kathie Durbin, Brent Israelsen, Dan Whipple, Keith Easthouse and Susan Zakin, among others. The trip also yielded the eighth subscribing newspaper for this paper's Writers on the Range syndication project. The Arizona Daily Star in Tucson decided to sign up for three "op ed" essays a week.

Fall visitors

Three staff members of the Colorado Environmental Coalition detoured our way to talk about issues and newsletter production: Susan Tixier, executive director, and Ted Fickes and Brooke Mayer, who do a combination of fund raising and organizing for the statewide group based in Boulder, Colo.

From the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union in Denver came Andrea Box, accompanied by Bill Thompson, who is now involved in a Kellogg Foundation project "trying to build bridges to the environmental community." The toughest thing about working with people from the "other side," they said, was the flak you get from your colleagues for not maintaining a united front.

Subscribers Nancy Proctor and Doug Reid, seasonal rangers in Yellowstone National Park, dropped in for a visit along with relatives Kathy Proctor and David Cannarella, who are new residents of Fruita, Colo. Kathy and David hope to start an organic farm, but a nearby egg farm, they report, makes life unpleasant. They suggested we make a stink about the stench.

Reader Warren Hill of Colorado Springs, Colo., said a quick hello; he's a retired superintendent of several Park Service units, including the Niobrara National Scenic River in Nebraska.

We chatted with New Mexico readers Norma McCallan and Robert McKee, who were on their way home from Aspen, where they visited Norma's daughter. Robert told us he works at the nation's "bomb factory" at Los Alamos while Norma is a reference librarian in Santa Fe. We wondered if they might be considering a career change when they told us, in amazement, that the going wage for a babysitter in Aspen is $15 an hour. Norma says she recommends reading High Country News in and out of doors: She takes her copies on hikes and backpacking trips.

Subscriber Wally Elton, from Charlestown, N.H., works with the Student Conservation Association and was in search of volunteer projects for his group when he swung through Paonia. No foliage snob, Wally admitted, "We have more colors in New England, but the gold aspens against the dark evergreens here are just spectacular."

* Betsy Marston for the staff

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