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Know the West

Dear Friends



Spring weather has brought a stream of friends and luminaries to the High Country News office in western Colorado.

Lyman Orton spent an afternoon with us. He and his sons own the Vermont Country Store, famous for its old-timey black-and-white catalogs, featuring everything from rubber galoshes to cheddar cheese. The store now puts out a catalog in color, and even the old black-and-white version, which Lyman says some of his customers prefer, features a few spots of color, including red suspenders and a green push-mower.

Lyman, who divides his time between Vermont and Steamboat Springs, Colo., is also the founder and chair of the Orton Family Foundation, which outfits small-town residents with state-of-the art planning tools, such as computer programs, video cameras and mapping equipment. You can find more information on the Web, at www.orton.org.

Subscriber John Nutting from Waterbury Center, Vt., dropped by while in town visiting his daughter, who teaches at Paonia Elementary School. Western State College journalism professor and longtime HCN contributor George Sibley also came through.

Whither civilization?

The most provocative visitor of late was the award-winning environmental journalist Dianne Dumanoski. As a reporter for the Boston Globe, Dumanoski wrote ground-breaking stories about global warming, the hole in the ozone layer and the loss of biodiversity. She also co-authored the 1996 book, Our Stolen Future, with local scientist Theo Colborn, describing how man-made chemicals are altering our bodies and environment. Dumanoski provided some grim context for environmentalists’ efforts to save chunks of the Western landscape; global warming, she said, will make much of this work irrelevant.

As an example, she pointed to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. While environmentalists claim oil drilling will wreck the habitat of wild roaming caribou, she said, global warming is already wreaking havoc on the herd, melting snow earlier in the year and turning the rivers into torrents, just as caribou and their calves need to cross them. "This ain’t no wilderness," said Dumanoski. "This is the leading edge of global change."

Taking the long view can be pretty depressing, but Dumanoski insisted that she believes that things can improve. She talked about that "moment when all things are possible" — like the moment when the Soviet Union unraveled, and the Berlin Wall came crashing down. "If we work hard enough, and get creative enough, we may get to the next chapter," she said.


Former HCN staffer Krissy Clarkwon a Golden Reel award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters for her eight-minute feature, "On the trail of the lynx," about efforts to bring the cat back to the mountains of Colorado. The feature aired on Radio High Country News, which we stopped producing last fall, when the funding ran short.

Former Radio HCN Producer Adam Burke accepted the award for Krissy at the federation’s annual conference in Albuquerque. "I told folks it was odd to be collecting an award for our now-defunct weekly program, but that we had a fine four-year run, and were very grateful to all the stations that had given us a voice in the West. I also told them all what a great reporter Krissy is."

We haven’t caught up with Krissy to congratulate her yet, but she was last reported in Los Angeles, where she is working for the show, "Public Radio Weekend."