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for people who care about the West

See you in October


A heads-up: High Country News staffers will be taking a much needed two-week publishing break after this issue. We'll be catching up on work around the office as well as harvesting North Fork Valley produce and watching the aspens change. Look for our special annual books and essays issue around Oct. 15, and visit hcn.org for fresh news and opinions.


We're thrilled that HCN has garnered two major awards this summer. The National Association of Science Writers gave us their 2012 Science in Society award (in the local/regional reporting category) for our stories describing threats to wildlife migration corridors. Called "Perilous Passages," the Dec. 26, 2011, package contained stories by Emilene Ostlind (a 2011 HCN intern), Mary Ellen Hannibal and assistant editor Cally Carswell, plus photos by Joe Riis. One judge described Emilene's story as "a gripping and vividly written feature story about the pronghorns' amazing long-distance migration through several states in the Northwest."

The Society of Environmental Journalists also gave Matthew Frank first place in "Outstanding Beat Reporting, Small Market" for a series of stories on environmental issues in Montana, including one that ran in HCN this July 25,  "Montana's stream access law stays strong." The judges commented, "Great hands-on, in-depth reporting on issues of importance to local residents."


At the June HCN board meeting in Paonia, Colo., the 14-member board voted for a 15th member: Nicole Lampe from Portland, Oregon.  Nicole heads the digital team at Resource Media, a San Francisco-based nonprofit consulting firm that focuses on conservation campaigns. She previously managed public affairs for the Trust for Public Land’s western regional office, and, as her bio on the Resource Media website states, "is fluent in social media, but old school in her approach to communications. She counsels discipline around goal setting, audience targeting and measurement to help streamline the care and feeding of multiple channels. " That's music to the ears for an organization that is striving to reach audiences in the digital age! We look forward to meeting Nicole in person at our upcoming board meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Sept. 28-29.

Former HCN editor in chief Jonathan Thompson (2007-2010) has rejoined us as a full-time senior editor, funded by a grant from the Jackson, Wyo.-based LOR Foundation. Previously, Jonathan was a Ted Scripps Fellow in Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado, while working part-time as a contributing editor for HCN. Now he's writing and editing stories about the "critical environmental, economic and social challenges facing communities in the American West." If you have story ideas, please email him at [email protected].


Faye and Ron Detry dropped by our Paonia, Colo., office in July. The couple had spent some time in nearby Crested Butte, which, although still scenic, boasted fewer wildflowers than last year, they said. Faye and Ron hail from Albuquerque, N.M., and say Colorado steals the limelight when it comes to media coverage of wildfires. “It’s easier to fly to Denver,” quipped Ron.

Paonia isn't exactly on the way from Portland to Santa Cruz, but Jessica Shugart and Pete Sager took a detour to visit and do some hiking. The couple is moving south so Jessica, an immunologist, can trade laboratory life for a literary one. She's starting a science-writing program at University of California Santa Cruz in the fall. Pete's excited to return to California, where he previously worked as a carpenter and woodworker making "off-the-wall kinds of things."

Nate Witham finished up an internship with the High Desert Center for Sustainable Studies, a nonprofit group in Paonia, in late August. His sister, Sana, and mom, Lisa Lotte Hardiman, came down from Great Falls, Montana to drive back home with him. The trio picked local nectarines and are hitting the Denver Museum of Nature and Science to look at spiders before heading north. They hope their return trip will be less eventful than their ride down on the Greyhound bus.

Adam Guilford stopped by to pay for a subscription in person. He grew up picking pinecones by the bushel in Fraser, Colo. ("where they take all the water out of the river" to send to Denver), and now builds designer decks in Aurora. He started reading HCN back in 2008 after the late columnist Ed Quillen told him to subscribe. He was off to Silverton, Colo. and Santa Fe before returning to the Front Range.

Trombone player Lee Oler and her partner Joe swung through Paonia after the Great Western Rocky Mountain Brass Band Festival in Silverton, Colo. Lee is a retired band teacher from Tucson. Readers may recognize her witty ad for a rental house, which runs only in HCN: "Come to Tucson! Pay no attention to the Arizona governor." What could be better, she said, than renting to fellow subscribers?

We had the pleasure of meeting three Daves (Holland and Blackman, both from Santa Fe, N.M. and Art, from Austin, Tex.) and their friend Guenther Woerrlien, who originally hails from Nuremberg, Germany. The four were passing though town, visiting friends in Paonia and nearby Hotchkiss, Colo. The previous day they had scaled Wilson Peak and were set to climb Snowmass the following day. Dave Holland told us that his mother Margaret Bakker, who is 85 and lives in Lakewood, Colo., is a longtime subscriber who reads every issue cover to cover. She gives Dave a birthday subscription each year. Thanks, Margaret, for your support and for bringing another devotee into the fray.

Mark Parsons, a very enthusiastic HCN reader from Bisbee, Ariz., dropped in on his way to an orienteering race outside Laramie, Wyo. Mark's a champ: he once won a silver metal in the 65-to-70 year-old age bracket for nighttime orienteering, in which participants run though the forest on a moonless night, using only a map and compass to find as many checkpoints as possible. "It's easy to get lost," he said.

Two California readers, Dennis Carty from Berkeley and Zoe Kalionzes of Oakland, stopped by to meet us in August. They were cruising the West in Dennis’ 1990 Maroon Westphalia VW van, which he says is perfect for camping as long as “you don’t offend anybody.” They spent the night before camped out at Maroon Lake in Aspen, Colo., where the only candidates for possible offense were the resident pikas. Dennis, who used to work as a river guide, has been a subscriber for about a decade and regularly gives HCN subscriptions to friends and family as gifts. We appreciate the continued support and were pleased to see him leaving with a crisp set of HCN t-shirts.

Roger Lamb made time for HCN on a visit from Australia, where he's lived for the past 43 years. He grew up traveling around the West and spent summers with his family in Foxton, Colo. He moved to the other side of the world for a teaching job in the early 1970s, married an Australian woman and had kids, which made it harder to come back stateside. He's retired now, but used to teach environmental philosophy at the college level. One of his--and our--favorite topics is wilderness.

From Nederland, Colo., came Mary Jo Brodzik and Hans Rohner on their way to vacation in Ouray. Mary Jo, who works at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, had never heard of High Country News until about seven years ago, when contributing editor Michelle Nijhuis came to her workplace to help scientists learn how to better communicate with journalists. Mary Jo immediately signed up for a subscription and has been a loyal reader and Research Fund contributor ever since. We love stories like that.


In our Aug. 6 story, "A divided trail comes together," we mistakenly referred to the Montana Wilderness Alliance; it's actually an Association. Readers pointed out two mistakes in our Sept. 3 cover story on Montana Rep. Denny Rehberg: His father, Jack Rehberg, ran for a U.S. House seat in 1970, not a Senate seat. And the small town of Big Sandy, near Sen. Jon Tester's farm, is not a county seat. We regret the errors.