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Know the West

Dear Friends


Old and Older Aspen

Although Aspen has become mythic as a place where great wealth collides with glamour and fame (and occasionally with trees), beneath the hoopla there beats the heart of a small Western town. That town was on display Jan. 31, when Aspen honored its own: environmentalist Joy Caudill, architect Sam Caudill, ski lift builders John and Frank Dolinsek, and ski area founder Whipple Van Ness Jones.

The five were named to the Aspen Hall of Fame, and several hundred of their fellow Aspenites turned out to induct them into the 10-year-old institution. Although this was Aspen, and the food was great and the videos professional, it was still down-home. That may be because the event was Old Aspen mixed with Older Aspen. Old Aspen consisted of the pioneers, like the Caudills and Whip Jones, who came in the 1950s and 1960s to create the ski industry. Older Aspen was represented by the Dolinsek brothers, who grew up in a silver mining family and, with mining gone, made the transition to planting ski lift towers instead of head frames on mountainsides.

The only reference to New Aspen came from Sam Caudill, who said, during his acceptance speech, "The hell with stretch Range Rovers." We didn't know what he was talking about until we almost ran into one on the way out of town.

In other news

Subscriber Steve Williams of Denver writes to say that Harry "Skip" Edwards is the second Coloradan to win the national Sol Feinstone Environmental Award (HCN, 2/2/98). The first was Lois Webster, who founded what is now the 3,200-member Denver Audubon Society, and was active in many other environmental groups. She died on Jan 15 in Denver at the age of 78.

Congratulations to Elsbeth and Ernie Atencio on the birth of their son, Dylan, on Jan. 31. Ernie, a former HCN intern, works for the organization Amigos Bravos in New Mexico.

Hugh Kingery writes from Denver to warn against the Californication of High Country News he spots in our pages: "It will swallow up our Rocky Mountain area... I hope you retrench."

In the January 1998 issue of the Cascade Cattleman, editor Becky Hatfield-Hyde says she fears the backlash to her industry if wolves get evicted from the Northern Rockies. "Wolf recovery has become as American as apple pie and baseball. I pity the poor people in the beef council who are trying to market our beef to the urban consumer." She also writes that wolves are barely a threat to cattle and sheep. And they make up for their occasional predation by going after coyotes. But livestock do have enemies, she writes. "Controlling blizzards ... would really help."


Visitors in the flesh included Bob Troup, formerly a staffer with the public radio bluegrass and environmental issues show, E-Town, and recent college graduates April Heideman and Derek Price, who have been traveling for 10 months through more countries than we can name here. April's visit held a surprise for both her and intern Michelle Nijhuis. Until April walked in our door, the two hadn't seen each other since 1995, when they left Reed College.

Christine Kovacic of nearby Montrose, Colo., stopped by with Barbara Moritsch, of more distant Nevada City, Calif. They are friends, environmental consultants and long-time subscribers.

The real junkyard dogs

Marlene Zanetell is a capable, cheerful Gunnison, Colo., resident who has been keeping western Colorado on track for years, first as an aide to former Democratic Rep. Ray Kogovsek, then as the head of Western State College's Rural Communities Institute, and now as a second-term Gunnison County commissioner.

So we were pleased to run into her recently at a Gunnison bookstore, and to spend an hour talking about what's happening in the nation's icebox. At the end, as we were walking out the door, we remembered the HCN story (12/22/97) on her county's rejection of federal money to build a super highway across Cottonwood Pass, and congratulated her on the vote.

She quickly, involuntarily looked away before thanking us. It was a tell-tale gesture, one we had seen before, and our hearts sank. "Was there something wrong with the story?" we reluctantly asked.

"Oh, no, it was an excellent story."

But of course there was a problem: a quote which could be taken to mean that Marlene was calling the Federal Highway Administration a pack of "junkyard dogs." And that's how the folks at the FHA office in Denver - people with whom Marlene must work on other projects - interpreted it. Marlene had said that Gunnison County residents were like "junkyard dogs in defense of their water, their community, and their quality of life." It's not how elected officials usually refer to their constituents. But Marlene is not your usual elected official.


Bruce Selcraig was wondering why he wasn't getting feedback on his Dawn Mine story (HCN, 1/19/98) - until he noticed that we had printed his e-mail address wrong. The correct address is [email protected]

* Ed Marston for the staff