Dear Friends

  • Brian Bennett, executive vice president for Mountainsmith, stands in front of an Old West jail facade behind the company's warehouse

    Adam Burke

A new supporter

Once a year, High Country News dedicates almost an entire issue to essays. We hope this issue gets stuffed into the backseat of a few cars for the summer road trip, tucked into backpacks, or packed in dry bags for a little reading on the river. We’ll be back with more news in two weeks.

Speaking of toys for the outdoors, HCN has a new supporter: Mountainsmith, a small, Golden, Colo.-based company that makes backpacks, sleeping bags and travel gear. The company is now underwriting Radio High Country News, our weekly program heard on 32 public radio stations around the West.

The HCN crew first ran into Mountainsmith’s executive vice president, Brian Bennett, at the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City. Brian was enthusiastic about supporting HCN, and wants his industry to do more to protect the West’s landscapes and communities — a sentiment he apparently shares with others in his business: The organizers of the O.R. show are threatening to pull out of Utah in response to recent deals that strip wilderness protection from millions of acres (see story next page).


Luis Polar, Carlos Herrera and David Frey have modest aspirations: They want to enable the various ethnic communities that exist in Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley, between Aspen and Rifle, to talk to each other. Given the mix of Anglo wealth, blue-collar service workers, and immigrants from all over the world, that’s a tall order. But none of this fazes the team that puts out La Misión, a monthly bilingual newspaper with a circulation of 7,000, distributed free in the Roaring Fork.

The nonprofit community newspaper is nine issues into its second year. Its latest issue is a bulky 28 pages, with many of the stories in both Spanish and English. The paper has one paid staffer, and volunteers sell the advertising, do the billing, distribute the paper, and write some of the stories.

Now, the nonprofit that owns the paper, Misión: Comunidad, wishes to move it up a step. So Luis, who is publisher/editor, and Carlos and David, who are board members, drove over McClure Pass to see how High Country News evolved from a struggling camping newsletter to an established voice for the West. During the visit, Writers on the Range editor Betsy Marston signed up La Misión as the 79th subscriber to HCN’s column syndicate. Since Betsy’s Spanish is, shall we say, rusty, Carlos will do the translating.

Subscriber Pat Springer, a landscape contractor from Tucson, and John Bird of Black Earth, Wis., stopped by. And finally, we’d like to thank Gary Peterson of the Community Alliance of Family Farmers in Davis, Calif., who recently spent a lunch break taking pictures for us.


Apologies to Earl Tully, vice president of Diné CARE, whose name we misspelled in the May 12 issue. Thanks go out to Michael A. Bogan and Cindy A. Ramotnik of Corrales, N.M., for their recent donation to the Research Fund; we misspelled Cindy’s last name in the April 28 issue. And finally, former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, is not a native of Roseburg, Ore., as we reported in the April 14 issue; he was born in Colfax, Wash., and grew up in Eugene, Ore.

Our new look

Letters about HCN’s redesign have begun rolling in. We’ve included two of the early ones.

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