Dear Friends

  • Peggy Rosenberry with her traveling companion, Berry

    Michelle Allen photo
  • Jay Knight rode his BMW cross-country before stopping in Paonia

    Cindy Wehling
  • Margie Vodopia of New York City and Rand Carroll of Santa Fe

    Ed Marston photo


The mountain men had their rendezvous; those who care about the West's public lands have their High Country News potluck. If you have been to one, you know that while the food is good, the conversation is better. And no one will make a speech or ask you for money.

The next potluck will be in the Paonia town park Friday, Sept. 17, at 6:30 p.m. If you're coming, please RSVP to Michelle Allen at 970/527-4898, or e-mail her at [email protected] If you didn't get a map-invitation in the mail, ask the first Paonian you see where the town park is. We'll be the group at the barbecue area.

The potluck is part of the thrice-yearly meetings of the board of the High Country Foundation, the not-for-profit that owns and operates High Country News. The board meeting will be at the HCN building, 119 Grand Ave., on Saturday, Sept. 18, at 9 a.m.

An exceptional group

High Country News readers are exceptional. You renew your subscriptions at high rates and for multiple years, and any excuse - birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas - leads you to send gift subscriptions to friends and relatives.

Nevertheless, the paper must send out small mountains of direct mail each year to replace lost subscribers. The prospecting letters go mostly to members of environmental groups and to subscribers to magazines like Outside and Utne Reader. The system has its flaws. As many of you know, and complain, those lists are heavily used, and eventually become "exhausted." Every nonprofit, therefore, dreams of finding green fields: lists that have not been solicited again and again.

So when Wisconsin subscriber Jay Knight rolled up to our office on a motorcycle, lightbulbs should have gone on. But it was not until subscriber Rand Carroll of Santa Fe arrived on his cycle a week or so later that we saw the possibilities. Instead of seeking subscribers from among members of The Nature Conservancy, we should be soliciting readers of Road Song Journal (for clean and sober motorcycling), or of AWoL Bikers Magazine (the wildest custom bikes ever), or of Boss Hoss Country (the best home-built bikes).

As it turned out, our two subscribers made marketing tough, because they have different tastes in everything but newspapers. Jay, a theology graduate student, had crossed the Great Plains on a BMW, and Rand, who works for the State of New Mexico, had come up from New Mexico on a Harley. It's too late for this year's big Black Hills motorcycle rally, but August 2000 may find us at Sturgis, S.D., in our High Country News booth, hawking subscriptions and T-shirts.

A different kind of biker, Bob Smedley, came by to say that nearby McClure Pass, which is 8,755 feet high, "is a pretty good haul." The Bow Mar, Colo., subscriber said he is the slowest of his group. In fact, the 78-year-old said, going slow is his specialty. Maybe we need to mail to a list of people who bicycle into their 70s and 80s.

Or, after meeting Peter and Sue Coe, perhaps we should solicit the nation's woodworkers. The Coes live in East Canaan, Conn., where Peter is a self-employed cabinet maker. Someone gave the Coes a gift subscription years ago, and they've kept it up since. They were brought to the office by Joan Hicks, their friend and a Paonia resident.

Subscriber Ken Akerman of Denver climbed Mount Lamborn, saw that the register at the top of the 11,300-foot peak was filled with the names of HCN staffers (it's our local mountain), and decided to stop in our office on his way back to Denver.

Michael Hibbard, originally from Ohio, but now the wilderness ranger for the Paonia Ranger District, came by to say hello. He's responsible for parts of the two local wilderness areas: the 59,000-acre Raggeds Wilderness and the 176,000-acre West Elk Wilderness. It's the best job we know of.

Someone else with a good job is Berry, a 6-foot-tall stuffed bear whose job it is to sit in the passenger's seat, acting as navigator while Denver resident Peggy Rosenberry drives. Peggy, who works with youth in the criminal justice system, "teaching them anything I can," said she has been reading HCN for "about 100 years and decided it was time to see Paonia."

Seth Waldman and Kara Goley of Jamestown, Colo., took time out from touring western Colorado to say hello. Seth is a middle school teacher; Kara is jury commissioner for Boulder County. Liz and Bruce Robinson of Boulder, Colo., took time off from a camping trip to say hello. She teaches elementary school; he is a retired software developer.

Tom Phalen of Arizona and little brother Pat "Paky" Phalen of Colorado visited after fishing the nearby Gunnison River. Sara Marcellino and Doug Johnson, geography students at San Francisco State University, did what they describe as an "abbreviated John Wesley Powell tour" of the Interior West before returning to class.

Mary Klein of the Colorado Natural Heritage Program and Shelli Bischoff of Conservation Impact, of Fort Collins and Denver, Colo., respectively, stopped by as part of their tour of western Colorado. The pair want land-use planners, county commissioners, the media and others to make more use of the heritage program, which collects and stores information about Colorado's land, vegetation and wildlife. Mary's number is 970/491-1150. Her e-mail is [email protected] There are natural heritage programs in every state.

After backpacking in the Weminuche Wilderness in southern Colorado, Meg Miller came by to extend her subscription. The Front Range teacher of American literature said, "Your 30 issues for $30 was too good a deal to pass up. Plus, it was a great excuse for a visit." Muki Amick of Denver interrupted her camping trip with daughter Madeleine, who is 4 years old, to subscribe.


American Wildlands is offering a brochure titled "A Guide to Land Exchanges in the Northern Rockies." It is useful, but you won't be able to get it by using the e-mail address listed in our Aug. 16, 1999, issue. The correct address is: [email protected] We sometimes wonder how newspapers managed to make mistakes before there were these weird e-mail and Web-site addresses to mess up.


Editors get accustomed to excuses and explanations. Most of our freelancers are writing a book. Or they're floating a book proposal. Or they're going off to live with the Hutterites for a month as part of their research.

But when we recently asked Westerners who are not writers to do essays for us, we got into an entirely new world. "Dry conditions moved our lamb sorting and shipping 10 days into August. Normally we start the first week of September," wrote one new essayist. "Any chance for another 10 days?"

How could we refuse?

* Ed Marston for the staff

High Country News Classifieds