Dear Friends


Award-winning intern

Congratulations to former Daily Astorian reporters Karen Mockler and Mike Stark. The pair will share the 4th annual Dolly Connelly Excellence in Environmental Journalism Award for their three-part series on the Columbia River Estuary, titled "Life on the Brink." The $1,000 annual award was created by Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Joel Connelly to honor his late mother. Patrick Webb, the Oregon daily's managing editor, said the series had been a major commitment for the 9,000-circulation newspaper. Karen, a former HCN intern, and Mike both freelance for HCN.

A new view

New HCN intern Erika Trautman thought she might never reconcile her diametric interests in creative pursuits and science. With a degree in Theater Studies from Yale and a background in wildlife rehabilitation and veterinary studies, the best career advice she'd heard before stumbling across the High Country News internship came from a helpful stranger in a diner who advised her to get a job at Sea World.

Though never employed in animal entertainment, the Colorado native has plenty of experience working with animals. She spent several years scrubbing cages in vet hospitals and torturing the none-too-grateful furred and feathered patients with all varieties of tubes, needles and thermometers. But it wasn't the animals that frustrated her. It was the politics.

"I saw myself stuck cleaning dirty cocker spaniel ears when I wanted to be rehabilitating lynxes." But the money for wildlife vet work is often controlled by private organizations and government agencies whose bureaucracy can paralyze good projects. "Besides," she says, "I kept hearing this capricious little voice reminding me how much I missed writing."

Though he hails from east of the Mississippi, intern Mason Adams claims that his hometown could compete with any Western town on the basis of tragically absurd environmental problems: Clifton Forge, Va., located on the eastern edge of the Appalachians, recently made the nationally syndicated "News of the Weird" for its long-closed Kim-Stan landfill. The EPA wants to declare the dump a Superfund site, but it can't get the owner to sign a release because he is currently in hiding.

Mason first experienced the rural West in 1998 while doing research for the U.S. Forest Service in Catron County, N.M. Moving there with the vague idea that his job would involve identifying plants and birds, Mason was advised on his first day that, if questioned in a bar, he should tell the locals that he fought fires rather than collected data. Wondering what was up, he used HCN's Internet archives to catch up on the antagonism between ranchers and environmentalists that both affected his job and made Catron a flashpoint for the county supremacy movement in the mid-'90s.

Since then, Mason graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a degree in wildlife biology, battled non-native plants in San Miguel County, Colo., and banded migratory songbirds in California. He also worked for the Ventana Wilderness Society to help restore the endangered California condor in Big Sur, where he mastered the art of placing stillborn calf carcasses on steep mountain slopes at 4 a.m.

Rabble rousers and other visitors

Two attorneys came by, their ears "scorched," they said, by days of listening to ranchers complain about a possible new water right. The right would be in the Gunnison River, where it flows through Black Canyon National Park in western Colorado. The reserved water-rights claim was yet another parting gift from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration. Bruce Driver and Bart Miller work for the Land and Water Fund of the Rockies. They represent five groups (the High Country Citizens Alliance of Crested Butte, The Wilderness Society, the Western Slope Environmental Resource Council, Environmental Defense and the Western Colorado Congress of Montrose) that are "encouraging" the National Park Service to pursue the reserved water-rights claim.

Denver attorney and subscriber Harris Sherman came by with daughter Jessa, on their way to the Telluride Film Festival. Jessa is a junior at New York University.

Subscriber Larry Hendrickson of San Diego County, Calif., dropped by with Paonia friend Gretchen Neil. Larry works for the California State Department of Parks, based in Anza-Borrego, which he says is probably the biggest state park in the world.

Subscriber Greg Krush visited HCN on his way from a festival in Pagosa Springs back home to Fort Collins, Colo., where the native tree farmer says subdivisions are closing in on his stands of blue spruce. He is on the board of Public Radio for the Front Range. After seven years, they hope to have their 3,000-watt license within a year, and then to start airing Radio High Country News.

Don and Evelyn Redfearn stopped by - a trip that wasn't convenient but was important to them, they said. Don, retired for 19 years, is a former employee of the National Wildlife Refuge System and has lived in Alaska, Utah, Colorado and even Wyoming's National Elk Refuge. He is the rabble rouser behind the Blue Goose Alliance, a nonprofit group that's attempting to bust the refuges out of their current home within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. (HCN, 2/26/01: An agency in need of refuge?).

High Country News Classifieds