Dear Friends

  • Michelle Nijhuis and Jack Perrin



Michelle Nijhuis penned her final words as HCN’s senior editor in December 2001, but she has not been sitting still since then. Michelle returned as our contributing editor last year; she’s also written for Audubon, The Christian Science Monitor and Salon, and has forthcoming articles in Smithsonian and Orion. Michelle’s feature story about urban wildlife, “Shadow Creatures,” which ran in HCN’s Oct. 28, 2002, issue, has been selected for The Best American Science Writing 2003, a collection of newspaper and magazine articles from around the nation, edited by Oliver Sacks (Ecco, PB $13.95).

But there’s more to life than writing great stories: On Sept. 20, on a beautiful western Colorado day, below Mount Lamborn and Landsend Peak, Michelle married another great lover of the West, Jack Perrin. Jack works as a resource consultant for the Vision alternative school program, and his trips across the West with his students — as well as his experimental backpacking cuisine — are the stuff of local legend. Both Michelle and Jack have been a tremendous inspiration to the staff at HCN, and we wish them great happiness in their life together.

We’re also proud to announce that HCN Editor in the Field Ray Ring has won two awards from the Society for Environmental Journalists. Ray’s stories on killer bees invading Tucson, the impact of population growth on Arizona politics, wolves spreading in the West, and the snowmobile industry’s grip on West Yellowstone earned him second place in reporting for “small market” publications (fewer than 100,000 subscribers), and third place in the “beat reporting” category. Contest judges said that Ray’s stories, selected from 224 entries by reporters from throughout North America, had “depth and texture” and were “informative and entertaining.”


By the time you read this, you will have already received — or soon will receive — our appeal for donations to the Research Fund. Here’s why: For the past 33 years, High Country News has operated as a nonprofit, reader-supported newspaper, which gives us the rare privilege of being able to do truly independent journalism. It’s a unique institution, as this issue’s cover story shows. It also comes with a catch: Your subscription fee covers just slightly more than half the cost of producing and delivering the newspaper. Readers’ donations over and above the subscription cost are what put words on the paper, and keep HCN alive.

During the economic downturn, the community we serve has remained remarkably generous. But we need your continued help to stay out ahead of the latest stories in the West. Please give what you can. Even if it’s five dollars, every little bit really, truly does count.


“What happened to HCN’s motto, The paper for people who care about the West?” The question has come in letters and e-mails and phone calls ever since we redesigned the newspaper last spring. We’d jettisoned the old motto rather unceremoniously, because we couldn’t find a spot for it on the cover — and because HCN isn’t just a newspaper anymore; we also have a Web site and the Writers on the Range opinion syndicate. We even tried a new motto on for size: Independent journalism for the American West. But after almost six months without it, we’ve decided you’re right. Nothing quite says it like the old slogan — which we’ve returned to its rightful place on the cover. HCN’s signature goat, as you’ll see below, is back as well.

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