Dear friends

  • Winter interns Julie McCord and Hilary Watts

    JoAnn Kalenak


"This is surreal," says new High Country News intern Julie McCord of HCN’s hometown, the coal miner’s haven of Paonia, Colo., pop. 1,500. Julie was born in Jamaica and has lived in Chicago, Toronto, Panama, Mexico, Japan and Washington, D.C. She comes to us from Manhattan, where she earned her master’s degree in journalism at Columbia University last June.

Julie has done research for National Geographic television and worked as a freelance writer and as an intern for Audubon magazine, but she has never owned a car. To get to Paonia, she flew to Denver and visited a family friend who loaned her an old, souped-up cop car, which got her over three snowy passes.

New intern Hilary Watts has spent the last four years with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s New Mexico Fishery Resources Office, studying native desert fishes such as the tiny Pecos bluntnose shiner. A native of Albuquerque herself, Hilary spent many of her days sorting through huge fish collections in the lab and would always feel a rush of excitement when she found a bluntnose. "They’re just so damn rare," she says.

At HCN, she hopes to combine her knowledge of biology with her interest in journalism, and to look at the West’s scarce water and consider how our use of it impacts humans and "other critters." She also says she’s excited about reaching a broader audience, rather than writing reports that few people read.


Our recent board meeting in Boulder, Colo., included a few fireworks. Board member Michael Fischer said he felt the Dec. 6 issue, headlined, "Where do we go from here?" contained too much opinion and not enough reporting. A spirited discussion ensued, as board members expressed varying degrees of disapproval or support. Staff explained that they wrote the cover story, listing the West’s top 10 issues, as a long editorial, but based it on interviews with a spectrum of Western thinkers. It was meant to be provocative — and apparently it was.

Other highlights included a rousing workshop from fund-raising maestro Andy Robinson, and an equally lively lunchtime talk from University of Colorado historian Patricia Limerick, who chairs the board of the Center of the American West. Limerick told of her recent ventures out of the comfortable confines of academia. She’s made friends within the oil and gas industry, and gained some affection for former Interior Secretary James Watt, whom she once demonized.

After the board meeting, we headed to the Chautauqua Association’s cozy Community House for HCN’s 35th birthday bash. Boulder readers not only volunteered to help set up the party and laid out a beautiful feast, they also gave $471 in response to board President Bill Mitchell’s impromptu request for donations. The a cappella group Face provided some booty-wiggling music, and New Belgium Brewery donated the fine beer.


We mangled a sentence in a story about Boulder’s open space (HCN, 12/6/04: A problem any city would love to have). The story should have stated that the Open Space Board of Trustees rejected rules that would have allowed off-trail access to sensitive areas, and that would have forbidden activities only if they were proven to hurt wildlife or ecosystems.

Finally, several readers pointed out that we put the wrong state tag above a story about the Ojito Wilderness (HCN, 12/20/04: The little bill that... can't). Ojito is in New Mexico.

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