Dear Friends



HCN in the spotlight

Thanks go out to all the readers who have written e-mails, postcards and letters in recent weeks to comment on the paper’s new look. So far, the reviews have been mostly positive: “GREAT,” “easier to read,” “handsome and easy to handle,” “a job well done,” “I LOVE LOVE LOVE the new format … it looks awesome!”

Of course, not everyone is gushing. One reader says the paper “looks like a supermarket checkout-stand tabloid.” Another asked if we have less space for news with all the big photos. (This 20-page paper has slightly less space for news, while a 24-pager, like our last two issues, has quite a bit more.) And several readers wondered why we ditched the slogan, “A paper for people who care about the West.” The feedback is great. We’ve run a few of the letters on page 16, and we’ll certainly tweak the new design as we go.

The right way to buy books

High Country News has always had a great relationship with independent bookstores in the West. Non-chain shops such as Back of Beyond Books in Moab, Utah, and Denver’s Tattered Cover have carried HCN for years. Now you can buy great books about the West in a way that supports both independent bookstores and High Country News. Just go to our Web site,, and click on the bookstore link. It will take you to an archive of recent books we’ve reviewed or featured. From there, you can link to our review, and, if you wish, buy the book. Just click on the book you want to purchase; you’ll end up at a Web site called, the independent bookstores’ alternative to BookSense will process your order, and the independent bookseller nearest you will ship the book. BookSense returns a percentage of the sale (5.5 percent) to High Country News.

Only book sales that come directly through our Web site will result in a donation to HCN.


Visitors Diana Tomback and Jim Knowles are remarkably cheerful given Diana’s obsession: the vanishing white pines of North America —the whitebark pine, the limber pine, and, potentially, even the ancient race of Great Basin bristlecone pines. The problem is blister rust, Diana says, an exotic which arrived in Canada from Asia in 1910, and has been working its way south and east ever since. Diana is a professor of biology at the University of Colorado, Denver, and Jim is a retired periodontist.

Climatologist Kelly Redmond dropped in en route to a conference he helped organize with the Aspen Global Change Institute in Aspen, Colo. Kelly works for the Western Regional Climate Center in Reno, and says the Great Basin is a fascinating place to study climate change. “For a place that doesn’t get much precipitation, it holds the record of precipitation for a very long time,” he says. Using evidence from tree rings, lake beds and even packrat middens, scientists are piecing together a record of the earth’s climate in years past, which will shed some light on what we’re in for in the future.

Bonnie Colby, a professor at University of Arizona who teaches about climate and water management issues, was also headed to the Aspen conference when she stopped by. Eric LeBlanc, who produces videos for Badger Productions out of Nederland, Colo., said hello and told us about a video he’s working on about the politics of energy. With him were Mark Kalal and Oscar Wongstrom.

Reader Janet Irwin of Arlington, Va., was out West camping with her friend, writer Wendy Underhill, when the duo dropped by for the nickel tour. And finally, Littleton, Colo., land surveyor Brad Peterson said hi on his way to a conference in Durango, Colo.

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