Goodbye Ray Ring — sort of

A long-time senior editor goes part-time, and HCN gains new board members.


It is fitting that this issue, Ray Ring’s last as our senior editor in Bozeman, Montana, is a hard-hitting investigative piece. Over two decades with HCN, Ray has brought unerring journalistic instincts and a strong sense of justice to his work, from a cover story about how ski resorts exploit foreign workers (“The New West’s Servant Economy,” 4/17/95) to his George Polk Award-winning exposé of a stealth political campaign to gut land-use regulations (“Taking Liberties,” 7/24/06). His feature about the life-threatening dangers faced by oil and gas workers, with little recourse from companies or government, (“Disposable Workers of the Oil and Gas Fields,” 4/2/07) won the prestigious Hillman Prize.

Ray has crossed the continent for HCN, from Alaska, where he showed how salmon research reveals the complexity — and fragility — of nature (“Ecosystems 101,” 12/2/13) to the U.S.-Mexico border, where the Border Patrol damages deserts in the name of homeland security (“Border Out of Control,” 6/16/14).

The staff will miss Ray’s prodigious output, his fearlessness and his self-deprecating humor. But fortunately Ray will continue to work as a part-time contributing editor. He’s just turned 65 and wants to spend more time traveling and writing fiction — something he did successfully years ago.

This man of incredible endurance and energy — who worked weekends and nights to get every detail just right — certainly deserves a break. Just not too long a break, we hope, for the sake of our readers, and even more for sake of the staff. For we admire Ray and his work more than we can ever say.

Ray Ring in Montana in January.
Steve Sweeney


At our fall board meeting in Denver, we were delighted to welcome five new HCN board members. Two of them are profiled below; the remaining three will appear in future issues.

John Belkin has been an attorney in Colorado since 1998, working real estate, land use, conservation easements and government affairs. Since 2006, he’s been the Crested Butte town attorney. He’s also served as a law clerk for federal courts and as a congressional staffer and in the Executive Office of the president. Originally from New Britain, Connecticut, John is a graduate of Quinnipiac University School of Law and Hobart College. He enjoys skiing, mountaineering and mountain biking and spending time with his wife, Melissa.

An editor specializing in science, health and the environment, Laura Helmuth brings deep journalism and new media experience to the board: She’s been a writer and editor for Science magazine and the science editor for Smithsonian magazine, and is now the science and health editor for Slate magazine and the vice president of the National Association of Science Writers. Laura has a Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience from the University of California, Berkeley. A hiker and birdwatcher, she comes West from her Maryland home whenever she can.



In the Sept. 15 issue, the book review titled “A new century with carnivores” stated that the Millville Predator Research Facility was based at the University of Utah, but it’s actually at Utah State University. HCN regrets the error.

In our profile of writer Charles Bowden in the Oct. 13 issue, due to mistaken information from a photographer, we misidentified the third man in an early 1970s photo of Bowden with Edward Abbey. The third man was monkey-wrencher Dave Foreman, not Doug Peacock.

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