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Know the West

Dear Friends


End of an era

This issue's cover story will be the last for a while from senior editor Michelle Nijhuis. Michelle left HCN at the end of the year to travel and pursue a freelance writing career.

Her departure is a great loss for the paper. From the day Michelle arrived as an intern in the winter of 1998, she's been a sharp-minded and steady worker. Though she'll be embarrassed at our mentioning it, Michelle is one of only two interns ever to produce a cover story (HCN, 4/13/98: Oil clashes with elk in the Book Cliffs). Since then, she has written or edited a dozen or so cover stories on a wide variety of topics, ranging from the plight of the Colorado River Delta to the efficacy of Habitat Conservation Plans in protecting endangered species.

Though editing is not her first love, Michelle proved to be very capable at it, working with the paper's staff writers and far-flung freelancers to add depth and clarity to their words. What staff will miss most, though, is her quiet and confident presence in the office, which brought a sense of harmony and inspiration to our often chaotic days.

Fortunately, Michelle has promised to keep writing for HCN as a freelancer once her travel itch has been scratched. In the meantime, she can be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].


We owe a visit from Washington residents Cheryl Wagner, a nurse practitioner, and Richard Johnson, a "data detective" for engineering projects, to the fact that they had seen Writers on the Range pieces in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Fresh from a Nordic skiing workshop, they talked skiing with HCN's Nordic specialists, Associate Publisher Greg Hanscom and Development Director Robyn Morrison, and took some sample HCNs with them for the trip home.

Kenneth and Louise Smith of Pocatello, Idaho, livened up our office for a while in early January. He's a retired railroader and "federal snoop" for the railroads, and she's a bookkeeper. We were delighted to discover that they are also newlyweds.

Writer and artist Evan Cantor of Boulder, Colo., whose fine drawings of trees, animals and other natural things occasionally appear in HCN, wrote us over the holiday to tell us his work is now on display at Boulder's National Center for Atmospheric Research. The one-man show runs through Jan. 29 and can be previewed on the Web at www.ucar.edu/outreach/art_gallery/gallery1.html. Congratulations, Evan.

Subscriber and Berkeley, Calif., writer Jim Downing came by on his way from New Delhi, India, where he lived for five months, writing about water, to the family ranch in Lusk, Wyo. Downing's most recent contribution to High Country News was a story on salt-disposal issues in California's Central Valley (HCN, 11/19/01: Will salt sink an agricultural empire?).

Unsentimental nature writing

High Country News and an essay by periodic contributor Stephen Lyons are lauded in the Foreword to The Best American Science and Nature Writing, edited by renowned biologist Edward O. Wilson. Series editor Burkhard Bilger calls HCN"one of the clearest, least sentimental voices in the environmental field." He also extensively quotes Lyons' humorous essay called "Enough nature writing already," which appeared in this paper (HCN, 5/10/99: Enough nature writing already) and many other papers through our Writers on the Range syndicated columns service.


A Hotline on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to deny the Bonneville cutthroat trout a place on the list of endangered species (HCN, 11/19/01: Bonneville trout denied protection) incorrectly asserted that the Bonneville is the state fish of Idaho. In fact, a reader informs us, that title is claimed by the westslope cutthroat trout.