Remembering Cecil Garland

  • Before her move to North Dakota, HCN correspondent Emily Guerin made time to hike Mount Lamborn, which overlooks our office in Paonia, Colorado.

    Andrew Cullen
 

Forty-nine years ago, a Lincoln, Montana, hardware-store owner spread maps of the nearby national forest on his kitchen table. A self-educated migrant from North Carolina's Great Smoky Mountains, he liked to hunt elk in a backcountry area where the Forest Service wanted to build roads, logging areas and campsites. He drew a line around the land he wanted to protect; later, he recalled: "I set out a jar of whiskey from the Smokies. The further we got into that bottle, the easier it was to draw the boundaries."

That moonshine-fueled mapper, Cecil Garland, died on May 11 at age 88, leaving his mark on the West. His grassroots campaign persuaded Congress to designate the 239,936-acre Scapegoat Wilderness Area in 1972 – the first wilderness protected by ordinary citizens instead of the Forest Service. (One agency boss complained: "We have lost control.") In 1973, Garland moved to a small cattle ranch in the Utah desert, where he helped lead the successful opposition to the Air Force's plan to install MX missile sites around the Great Basin. Recently, he battled Las Vegas' scheme to import groundwater from his area.

HCN began covering Garland in 1972, and in 1986, he wrote a cover story headlined "In defense of running cows on the public's land," available in our online archives. He was no saint and sometimes made offensive remarks. But as Montana Wilderness Association staffer John Gatchell says: "Many times, as I meet wilderness activists around the West, they tell me that they were inspired by him." A celebration of Garland's life will be held in Callao, Utah, on the weekend of Sept. 6. His family suggests honoring him by donating to MWA or the Great Basin Water Network.

Emily goes North
Emily Guerin, a former HCN intern and editorial fellow, is moving on. For the past year she's been a correspondent for HCN, living in our hometown of Paonia, Colorado. Now she's headed off to report on North Dakota's dramatic energy boom for Inside Energy, a new public radio and television collaboration. Based at Rocky Mountain PBS in Denver, it covers the energy industry in Wyoming, Colorado and North Dakota.

Two people overheard her talking about mixed-grass prairie in a Bismarck restaurant while she was in town for the job interview. Randy and Karen Kreil, wildlife biologists, wondered how she knew what a mixed-grass prairie was. Turns out the couple are longtime HCN readers who have already begun to suggest story ideas to Emily.

A dandy new book from Katie Lee
Indomitable canyon-country defender Katie Lee, now 94, has a new book out. The Ghosts of Dandy Crossing (Dream Garden Press) is a collection of lively stories about a Colorado River ford that was drowned by Lake Powell. Katie's tales, juicy and crackling with life, concern a love affair and the various fascinating characters who once lived in the area. Southwestern writer and HCN contributor Craig Childs writes: "(Katie Lee) is our foul-mouthed, lightning-eyed, boot-stomping balladeer, a character Louis L'Amour never could have invented."

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