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for people who care about the West

Reading the old-fashioned way

Warmer weather brings visitors to High Country News.


It’s official: Summer’s on the way. It’s hot as heck and we’ve turned on the swamp cooler at the High Country News office in Paonia, Colorado.

Beating the heat, Charles and Elisha Conant dropped in with their 17-month-old daughter, Elanor, a redhead who — amazingly — can already indicate the square root of two, via a couple of fingers held up in the air. The family came from Longmont, Colorado, for some fishing, but they’re also considering moving to Paonia. Charles, a stay-at-home dad, and Elisha, a parent-infant psychologist, are good friends of Roger Echohawk, a historian for the Pawnee Nation who has also written for High Country News.

Longtime reader Baz Stevens stopped in from Freeland, Washington, to tell us stories from the late 1970s — the “old days” of HCN — when he first subscribed. Back then, Baz was a loyal reader but he didn’t always receive his copies of the magazine, then a black-and-white tabloid, because of his “no-address, vagabond ways,” he said. “My fault, not yours.” When he did get it, though, the then-Outward Bound summer program instructor would fold it up and “throw it in a duffle” for his frequent river trips. We can’t think of a better way to read the magazine. Thanks for sticking with us, Baz.

In fundraising news, around 70 HCNers gathered in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to meet up and discuss the American West. Current and former board members, HCN intern alumni, local politicians and new readers all coalesced at the home of longtime reader Sandy Buffett. Mark Rudd, husband of HCN board member Marla Painter, took Executive Director Paul Larmer and Major Gift Adviser Alyssa Pinkerton on a tour of the nearby Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge. Thanks, all, for your continued support.

We have exciting news from contributor Michael Branch, who wrote the “Rants from the Hill” column for us, which he has now transformed into a full-fledged book. (Read an excerpt on page 26.) Michael recently won the Ellen Meloy Fund for Desert Writers to support his current book-in-progress, Jackalope!: The Complete Natural and Cultural History. The book will be his fourth, a close look at the lore of the legendary antlered jackrabbit. Congratulations Michael!

Unfortunately, our review of Jordan Fisher Smith’s book Engineering Eden (“Bear interventions: The good, the bad and the ugly,” HCN, 5/15/17) contained several errors. Grizzly advocate Martha Shell did not file the Walker lawsuit; the dead man’s parents did. Yellowstone Chief Research Biologist Glen Cole did not order the Trout Creek Dump closed in 1967; the park’s superintendent did so in 1969. Galen Rowell did not discover the Park Service’s secret bear-body dump at Yosemite; a climbing partner of his, Chris Vandiver, did, and told him about it. Rowell was not an “activist,” but rather a serious big-wall rock climber and photojournalist. HCN regrets the errors.