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Know the West

Visitors, books and brand-new babies


The unseasonably warm weather we endured this March, which melted much of Colorado's snowpack, had a bright side: It brought an early flood of visitors.

Emily Guerin and Marie Sears stopped in after their backpacking holiday was thwarted by the weather. The college friends are bound for new challenges. Marie will enter medical school this fall at the University of California, San Francisco. Emily left her position at a weekly newspaper near Portland, Maine, to take a National Outdoor Leadership School instructor course in the Southwest before she becomes an HCN editorial intern this July.

Cathy Proenza, from Denver, and longtime HCN subscriber Kurt Aronow, from Louisville, Colo., dropped in to say "hi" after strong winds blew them out of their campsite in Unaweep Canyon south of Grand Junction. They were forced to pull up stakes when wicked gusts swept "continuous streams of sand into the tent," said Kurt.

In April, blacksmith Karen Martel and stoneworker Gary McWilliams swung in to pick up a subscription. The pair split their time between Bellingham, Wash., and Craig, Alaska, and make and sell tables, lamps, dishes and other artwork through their company, Stone Arts of Alaska. Gary, also an author, gave us a copy of his new book Wanderlusting, which chronicles his adventures among miners, sailors, smugglers and fishermen.

Meanwhile, HCN contributor Joe Wilkins' new memoir The Mountain and the Fathers: Growing up on The Big Dry came out in February. The writing is spare and lyrical -- a series of glimpses into the author's hardbitten youth in eastern Montana, each underpinned with a deep sense of attachment to a fundamentally detached landscape.

And renowned environmental activist, river rat and folk singer Katie Lee, now 92, just published The Ballad of Gutless Ditch. Sarah Gianelli at The NOISE arts & news magazine enticingly describes the epic free-verse poem as "a fast-paced, passion-fueled love story involving a handsome, gold-rich lawyer; a tantalizing French schoolmarm; and more twists and turns than 'Satan's Gut,' the treacherous chasm where the story's nail-biting climax occurs." Move over, Robert Service!

Last but certainly not least -- except perhaps in size -- frequent HCN contributor Eric Wagner and his wife, El Lee, welcomed their daughter, Bay Lee Wagner, into the world at 4:52 in the morning on Feb. 22. "Truth be told, she's kinda ugly," Eric writes, "but she's our ugly, and we love her to bits."

Due to a source's miscalculation, our March 19 story "Losing ground" massively overestimated the number of acres of grassland converted to cropland in the Dakotas and Montana from 2006 to 2011. The correct number of acres should have been 1.8 million, not 30 million -- still a significant amount of lost prairie.

Our April 16 story about Peter Gleick said that Gleick "admitted impersonating a Heartland (Institute) board member" to obtain internal documents about the group's climate change programs and funders. In fact, in a Feb. 20 Huffington Post blog, Gleick admitted only to soliciting the documents "under someone else's name." It was the Heartland Institute that revealed the specifics of Gleick's subterfuge.

HCN regrets the errors.