Keeping busy during publication break


April’s publication break allowed us to hunker down for a bit and get the garden started, but the work never stops at High Country News. On the business side, we’ve been hard at work organizing an event with Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman, who appeared here in Paonia, Colorado, on April 23. And over in the editorial department, we’ve been stoking the ever-burning flame of our website, bringing you new content each day at 

In March, our online editor, Tay Wiles, joined a panel to discuss public-land controversies at the Rural West Conference in Missoula, Montana. Tay has taken the captain’s chair for HCN’s ongoing coverage of public-lands history and disputes, including the Bundy-esque incidents that culminated at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge earlier this year. Go, Tay!

Rich Messer
Brooke Warren

While we were on break, the weather was beyond unpredictable, with surprising snowfall and equally surprising splashes of bright sunshine. Still, we’ve had a steady stream of visitors. Rich Messer stopped by on a blustery day, battling falling rocks and slick, snow-covered roads on his way over from Fraser, Colorado, in the north-central part of the state. Rich, who came to Paonia to meet with folks from the local foundry, works with sculptors to create molds for bronze casting. “They’re the artistic genius,” he says. “I’m the labor.” In keeping with HCN’s contrarian spirit, Messer says he reads all of our issues, even when he isn’t always in accord. “It seems healthy,” he says. That’s family for you: loyalty, even when we disagree.

Rob Mulford
Brooke Warren

We also caught up with Rob Mulford, who recently stopped by during a visit from Fairbanks, Alaska. Rob was in the area to commemorate the 35th anniversary of a deadly explosion at Mid-Continent Resources’ Dutch Creek No. 1 Mine, near Redstone, Colorado. The April 15, 1981, tragedy claimed the lives of 15 coal miners, all friends of Rob’s. Though he’s no longer involved with the industry, Rob, who worked at the site until shortly before the blast, was recruiting fellow coal miners and friends to place flowers at the mine in remembrance.

We’d like to offer a clarification, from last issue’s cover story (“A Land Divided,” HCN, 4/4/16). We stated that the Blackfeet Tribe would be among the last to take part in the Interior Department’s land buy-back program. The Blackfeet Reservation will likely be among the last to participate among the 42 highly fractionated reservations identified as priority locations, not the last among qualifying tribes to participate. Some 150 tribes are theoretically eligible, and the Land Buy-Back Program does not officially end until 2022. Before then, whatever money is not spent on the most fractionated reservations will be made available for land consolidation in other locations, to be announced later this year.

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