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for people who care about the West

From Alaska to Paonia


Paonia, Colo., was a planned rest stop for visitors Helen Pohlig and Marilyn Rudolph, who were driving from Arizona to Helen’s home in St. Paul, Minn. “We purposefully chose a route that would take us through here,” said Helen, a lawyer and longtime subscriber. On their tour of HCN headquarters, she brought her dog Annie, a part-poodle who was quite content to be tucked under Helen’s arm and carried around like a furry clutch purse. Despite the dreary early-April weather (alternating rain, sleet and snow), Marilyn, a financial controller from Alaska, expressed envy at the thought of living and working in “a town like this.” Well, we do love it here in P-town — especially when it’s warmer than Alaska.

By now you know that this is HCN’s 40th year. But it’s also the 40th anniversary of some other grand publications, events and institutions — including Earth Day, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Apollo 13 mission, Montana Magazine and Climbing Magazine. Not to mention the 30th anniversary (on May 18) of the Mount St. Helens eruption.


Former intern Emily Underwood (winter 2009) has some exciting news about an arts and environmental science program for high school students she’s helped develop in El Dorado County, Calif. The Young Environmental Writers and Storytellers (YEWS) Project just received its first grant of $5,000 from the privately funded Innovations in Environmental Education Grant Committee.

Emily and colleague Shawn Dunkley are working with Family Connections El Dorado, a nonprofit group that provides youth-development programs. “YEWS aims to teach these students the skills to research and produce environmental stories about El Dorado County in a variety of genres,” writes Emily, “and provide the community support they need to carry their ideas to completion.”

Former HCN webmeister and award-winning sci-fi author Paolo Bacigalupi’s first novel, The Windup Girl, was hailed as one of 2009’s best science fiction works. Now it’s been nominated for the Locus, Hugo and Nebula Awards in the “best novel” category. In The Windup Girl (published by Night Shade Books), “we are plunged into a fraught and difficult world: energy collapse and environmental disasters have changed the shape of the planet, swamping its coastal cities and destroying our capacity to travel or move freight at high speeds,” writes reviewer Cory Doctorow. “(This) is a story about colonialism, independence, mysticism and ethics, sex and loyalty, and the opposing forces of greed and empathy.” We’re rooting for you, Paolo.

The former deputy director of the California Department of Water Resources, Jerry Meral, pointed out two errors in our Jan. 18 story “Breakdown.” The San Luis Reservoir is owned not by Westlands Water District, but by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources. Also, the Peripheral Canal is not “a 25-year-old idea,” writes Jerry. “It was conceived by the California Department of Fish and Game in the 1950s to solve the fish entrapment problem of having the pumps in the South Delta, and was subjected to environmental and engineering analysis in the 1960s and 1970s.” Thanks for setting that straight, Jerry.

In Ray Ring’s remembrance of Stewart Udall (HCN, 4/12/10), he quoted from what he called a column Udall wrote for the Santa Fe Reporter. In fact, the “column” was an excerpt from Voices of the American West, a collection of oral histories and narratives compiled by Corinne Platt and Meredith Ogilby. The book is a finalist for the 2010 Colorado Book Award.