The local-federal tug-of-war

A live High Country News panel event, readers get ready to vote in our public lands May Madness, and more.

  • Gary Ingram visits High Country News while taking solar energy classes in Paonia, Colorado.

    Alyssa Pinkerton

On Saturday, June 6, High Country News will convene a panel of experts in our hometown of Paonia, Colorado. We’ll explore — through the lens of two hot local issues, oil and gas development and the listing of the Gunnison sage grouse — the limits of collaboration and confrontation between the federal agencies that manage a large chunk of our lands and the communities and industries that depend on them. Please join us at the Paradise Theatre, 215 Grand Ave., at 7 p.m. The event will be followed by an ice cream social at which you can meet and bend the ears of HCN staff and board members.

In the spirit of sparking a good ol’ verbal wrestling match — while celebrating the West’s extraordinary places — HCN invites you to vote in “Battle of the Lands,” a bracket-style tournament to crown our readers’ favorite recreation spots. Whether you’re a rafter or a powerboater, fly-fisherman or mountain biker, backpacker or motorhead, we want your help in winnowing 32 beloved parcels down to a single champion. The fun begins May 28 — please vote at

We’re also running an essay contest: Tell us why your favorite public-land hangout rocks! See 

March and April brought more folks to our headquarters, including one virtual visitor. A while back, we asked visitors who had yet to see their names in this column to contact us. We got a note from some late-summer guests:  “We (Amy Ewing and Kerry Wood) came by at the end of August 2014.  Amy is a consulting hydrologist at Daniel B. Stephens & Associates Inc., in Albuquerque, and Kerry works for the U.S. Forest Service as the trails and wilderness program manager on the Sandia Ranger District in Tijeras, New Mexico.” Thanks, and sorry we missed noting your visit!

Laine Dobson moved here in March from Greeley, Colorado, and is building a house with his wife and kids. Laine works in software, printers and document management solutions for a company on the Front Range. He’s also a watercolor painter. He discovered us the old-fashioned way:  by strolling down Grand Avenue and checking out local businesses.

From Bellingham, Washington, came Gary Ingram, a longtime subscriber who was in town for technical sales and design training at Solar Energy International. He says the instructors are excellent, and his fellow students come from all over — Florida, California, even India. Before returning to Washington, he plans to summit Pikes Peak, a 14,114-foot mountain on Colorado’s Front Range.

Evelyn Hess traveled to the North Fork Valley from Eugene, Oregon, taking the train to Flagstaff and driving up here. She’s interviewing people about coal and environmental advocacy for a book, and came to see HCN’s archives, which stretch back to our founding in 1970. Evelyn’s first two books, To the Woods and Building a Better Nest, were about her time spent living in a tent and a trailer on a plot of land southwest of Eugene. It took her and her husband nearly 15 years to finally build a house on it. “We’re very slow at projects,” she laughed. We know the feeling!

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