Dear Friends

  • Michelle Allen, pictured with Nicolle and Clayton, is HCN's new development associate


Out of the courts

Robert Amon, the grandfather of the Earth First! forest protests at Idaho's Cove-Mallard (HCN, 9/2/96), wrote us recently to share his good news. For the first time in more than five years, he tells us, he is legally untangled. The last lawsuit against him was dropped by Highland Enterprises, an Idaho logging company, in March.

"So now what?" Amon writes. "I was all set for trial and had even invested $8.50 for a spanking green sport coat and two dress shirts from the good people at Goodwill. The trial was scheduled to begin on March 17, St. Patrick's Day, and I wanted to appease all the various gods and saints I could think of."

Logging at Cove-Mallard, a 77,000-acre chunk of the Nez Perce National Forest, was cancelled last year and isn't expected to resume in 1999.

Amon, aka "Ramon," can be reached at Cove-Mallard Coalition, P.O. Box 8968, Moscow, ID 83843.

Welcome, Michelle

High Country News has a new staffer, development associate Michelle Anton Allen. Michelle, husband John and children Nicolle and Clayton came to Paonia from California last year. Michelle never wants to see a moving box again as long as she lives. The family has moved seven times in the past five years; three of those moves have been from place to place within Paonia.

Michelle studied theater at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and at the Juilliard School in New York City. A job as a door-to-door canvasser for Greenpeace in Los Angeles kicked off her career as a nonprofit fund raiser. Three months into the job, she was training the staff and reminding them that to be a successful canvasser, bathing was essential. In a year, she says, her troop of 50 dedicated canvassers had raised $800,000.

Her first mission at High Country News is getting to know subscribers and looking for grant money. She is also organizing a slide show and book signing with Brad Dimock, co-author of The Doing of the Thing, a book about Buzz Holmstrom, a boating pioneer on the Colorado River (HCN, 12/21/98).

Congratulations, corrections

Congratulations to Idaho Statesman reporter Rocky Barker, a 23-year veteran of the newsroom, who won the National Conservation Achievement Award given each year by the National Wildlife Federation. Last year Rocky wrote a three-part series on removing four dams on the lower Snake River in Idaho and eastern Washington to help restore salmon.

High Country News intern Rebecca Clarren has a correction to her correction of a Roundup article about the spacing of gas wells in Garfield County, Colo. (HCN, 4/12/99). The county hosts as many as 16 wells in a square mile, she points out, not "a square acre." Thanks to Colin Engle, Laura Lindley and Dave Banko for pointing out the error.

From G. Tracy Mehan we have a correction to Jon Margolis' column on "Taking the green elephant off the endangered list" (HCN, 3/29/99). Rep. Vern Ehlers is from Michigan, she points out, not Minnesota.

Passing through

Nancy Schwieger, moving from Lake Tahoe, Nev., to Paonia, Colo., dropped in to say hello; she specializes in special-land uses for the Forest Service's Paonia and Grand Junction ranger districts. John Roncalio, a longtime subscriber from Cheyenne, stopped in along with new reader Jayne Spencer of Denver; both were on their way to Telluride. Mark DeGregorio of Estes Park, Colo., took a break from his trip back home after touring the Four Corners area, and Tom and Kathleen Carroll, now of Salem, Va., said they were hoping to return to Colorado, and stopped by to inquire about life in Paonia.

Lost writers

We're missing five writers. We owe them royalties for their contributions to our Water in the West collection, but the checks come back from the last address we have for them. If you know the whereabouts of Brian Collins, M.E. Anderson, Rick Boychuk, Tom Harris or Sandy Tolan, please drop a note to Phyllis Becktell, Box 1090, Paonia, Colo. 81428, or e-mail her at [email protected] We're also hoping to pay photographer Phil Schofield - if we can find him.


Paonia is in the midst of a struggle over how much coal the North Fork Valley should produce. The Bureau of Land Management has applications for leases that would send production from the current 8.3 million tons/year up to 20 million tons per year. In 1981, production was 2.7 million tons/year.

The mines are underground and tightly controlled; the problem is the railroad. Basically, late 20th century coal production technology, called the longwall, produces an enormous flow of coal that depends on late 19th century transportation technology, the Union Pacific Railroad. Each million tons of annual production requires four train trips a week, and each 100-car, 10,000-ton train blocks each of the area's 60 road-train crossings for six minutes. Today, we have 32 train trips a week through the valley, and at 20 million tons we would have 80 a week, or 11 a day.

As the BLM holds its scoping meetings, emotions are strong. Now some main street stores sport signs that say: "Coal Mine Proud."

Vaclav Havel, the president of the Czech Republic, in one of his essays, discussed why stores in Prague, when it was under Communism, would display signs that said: "Workers of the World Unite..." and other uplifting slogans. No one believed those slogans, he said; life was far too miserable. The reason for displaying them, Havel decided, was to show that you were an obedient subject.

Of course, that's not what's happening here. But our irascible circulation staffer, Rita Murphy, has put a sign in the window over her desk. The same size and design as the Coal Mine Proud sign, it reads: Mule Skinner Proud.

- Betsy Marston and Ed Marston for the staff

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