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for people who care about the West

Visitors from Maine to Montana


Summer's in full swing in Paonia, Colorado, our tiny hometown. The North Fork Valley's sunny weather, scrumptious fruit and fine wines draw lots of visitors, and we're always delighted when friends old and new drop by our office.

Andreas (Andy) Mink, who reports for the Sunday edition of Neue Zurcher Zeitung, Switzerland's leading paper, spent a couple of days in Paonia doing stories on both solar energy – visiting the local nonprofit, Solar Energy International – and several "guerilla growers" of pot. Paonia, he concluded, could one day become the "Champagne of cannabis," thanks to Colorado's legalization of recreational marijuana. Some locals have the expertise, and the hot summer days and cool nights give pot the perfect place to flourish. But would the town, or the very conservative county, agree? That remains to be seen. Meanwhile, Andy obliged Writers on the Range editor Betsy Marston by writing a column on the subject from his home in Maine; read "Cannabis could go Champagne in western Colorado" at hcn.org.

Subscribers Jeff and Kathy Hansen of Divide, Colorado, stopped by while on a reporting trip for their newspaper, Ute Country News. The couple bought the monthly paper a few years ago: Kathy acts as writer, editor and publisher; Jeff, the paper's graphic designer, has been in the business for 30 years and also works for the Colorado Springs Independent. Jeff told us their hometown, in the shadow of Pikes Peak, is a hotbed for Tea Party activists, and says the balanced views in High Country News are a breath of fresh air.

Cindy Owings and Graham McIlwaine passed through en route to McAllister, Montana, after a road trip. Cindy graduated from Montrose High School, about 50 miles from here, picking fruit in the region's abundant orchards as a teenager. That was 50 years ago; she's been in Montana almost ever since, where she helped found Madison Farm to Fork, a sustainable local agriculture organization, and serves on the board of Red Feather Development Group, a nonprofit that partners with American Indian nations to build sustainable housing.

Our June 23 story "What Lies Beneath" stated that Yellowstone Lake contains five native trout species being outcompeted by lake trout. Actually, there's just one – the Yellowstone cutthroat.

A June 9 news brief stated that congressional legislation had proposed Idaho's Boulder-White Clouds as a national monument. In fact, the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act would designate three wilderness areas.

Reader Lenny Molina in Tucson, Arizona, liked that issue's cover story on the environmental impacts of national security measures along the Mexican border, but pointed out a mistake: The ancient Nazca culture, not the Inca Empire, inscribed the giant symbols on South American deserts that resemble the modern tracks of the U.S. Border Patrol.

The second-to-last sentence of "Peak Water," in our May 26 issue, should have read "In California, roughly one-fifth of the state's electricity is used for 'water-related' purposes, including treating, heating and moving it to places it doesn't naturally flow." HCN regrets the errors.