Dear friends

  • One of the wolves released in Yellowstone last January

    Yellowstone Nat'l Park


Since several recent issues have been labeled "special" because of their long planning time and extra pages, we were loath to call this edition on the Endangered Species Act a special issue too. But as the publication date approached, pages filled with yet more dimensions of the story. So we compromised: no extra pages but a solid emphasis on the endangered act, which means bumping a regular feature, the Bulletin Board.

Grounding this issue is an essay about the writing and current history of the Endangered Species Act, by veteran Idaho reporter Rocky Barker. "We all carry our values into whatever we do," Rocky has said. "I just happen to value the entire life community, which means all of us and the wild things as well." Rocky was recently named one of Idaho's top 25 conservationists by the Wolf Education and Research Center, based in Ketchum.

What you tell us

The surveys readers send back sometimes delight us. Reader Mary Zabinski in Albuquerque, N.M., notes she was reading High Country News when "a fellow on a plane handed me his magazine so I'd have "something better to read." I thought, "He has no taste! He has no clue!'"

Thanks to reader H. Stevens for the Helena, Mont., area phone book. We also heard from Joe Turk, a Coloradan now living in Monterey, Calif., who tells us that on April 17 we re-located Mackinac Island in a story about Third World workers. The island is between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, he says.

Letters continue to trickle in taking issue with Jon Margolis' column about whiny public-land ranchers, headlined "Waaaaaaaaaaah" (HCN, 2/20/95). The majority suggest he never, ever bother writing about the West again, but one reader, a Forest Service staffer who wished not to use her name, had this to say, after thanking us for running the essay:

"We have been conducting well-planned workshops each year for cattle permittees to help them understand the complexity of natural-resources management. The presentations are met with the usual stone-faced lack of response and the crossed arms across the chest body-language barriers.

"On field trips they do not recognize, deny, or fail to comprehend damage resulting from intensive grazing, headcuts, broken-down stream banks, changes in species composition. They do not value protection of sensitive species or riparian habitat. They speak derisively about "damned little birds that do nothing," roll their eyes about our concern over the crash of the amphibian population in the Sierra Nevada. It does not relate to anything in their lives ... The attitude of our outfitter-guide permittees is the same ... It is my observation that the forest I work on just lurches from one crisis to the next ..."

Nevertheless, the agency staffer says, "I keep trying. A little support and encouragement go a long way in this tough business."


Eco-Challengers in Utah complained of blisters and dehydration as the 70-mile competition on public lands started out in a flurry of dust. The first dropout, we hear, was New Yorker Andrew Lathrop, whose horse fell on him as the race began.

* Betsy Marston for the staff

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