Scraping bottom; underwhelmed by parks; bulldozed saguaros

Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.

 

COLORADO
Jokes about life under semi-quarantine have bounced through our computers the last few weeks as we all sat alone, yet linked to others. It’s hard to choose the best, but our vote goes to Colorado’s Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, which thoughtfully provided some white space on a page, with the headline: “Consider this our ‘square to spare.’ If you’re desperate or worried about running out, below is an ink-free piece of newsprint that you’re welcome to clip out and add to your emergency stores.” The paper humbly added, “Many claim this is the highest and best use of the Sentinel — or that we’ve been scraping bottom for years.”

OREGON
Speaking of toilet paper, the police department in Newport, Oregon, urged people not to call 911 just because they ran out at home and the stores were empty. The Oregonian offered sage advice: “Be resourceful. Be patient. There is a TP shortage. This too shall pass.” The police suggested alternatives drawn from possibly anecdotal historical reports, including wet rope (used on old sailing ships), seashells and other substitutes far too uncomfortable to contemplate. The most sensible suggestion? Newsprint. Meanwhile, sensing a marketing opportunity, a pizza joint in Portland announced a hard-to-resist special: Buy a $15 pizza, and get a roll of toilet paper thrown in for free. Pizza Schmizza is offering this takeout bonanza.

IDAHO
Avid powder skier Ken Scott knows a thing or two about being confined, and he’s not talking about voluntary social isolation in the comfort of your home. On Jan. 7, he writes in Mountain Journal, he was caught in two avalanches, one right after the other, at the Silver Mountain Resort in Kellogg, Idaho. Three skiers were killed and four others were injured that day. Fortunately, another skier saw Scott just as the first cascade of snow came barreling down, and he was found after a frantic, almost hour-long search. No part of him was visible: The second avalanche left him encased in several feet of snow as hard as concrete. Trapped in total darkness and unable to move, Scott became delirious and was desperate for air by the time he felt something hit his body. He sensed shoveling, and then he suddenly felt air on his face and opened his eyes to the thrilling sight of people. But when his rescuers suggested strapping him onto a backboard to take him off the mountain, Scott rebelled: “Don’t strap me in! I don’t want to be tied down, confined!” Scott, whose account of his ordeal was written with Timothy Tate, called his nick-of-time rescue nothing less than a miracle.

THE WEST
It’s hard to believe, but some visitors are underwhelmed by the grandeur and beauty of our national parks. They just don’t get what all the oohing and ahhing is about and sometimes even post one-star reviews on Yelp. That inspired artist Amber Share to begin a project she calls “Subpar Parks,” in which she juxtaposes what Atlas Obscura calls her “lush, loving” park posters — illustrated in a style reminiscent of classic 1930s travel posters — with disgruntled tourists’ snarky comments. One visitor to Yosemite National Park complained, “Trees block views and there are too many gray rocks,” while another critic summed up Sequoia National Park: “Sure, Sequoia is full of giant, ancient trees. But before you get too excited, keep in mind that there are bugs and they will bite you on your face.” As for Yellowstone and its multicolored geysers, one tourist scoffed, “Save yourself some money — boil water at home.” Share tried to imagine writing a “fake bad review” of a park like Grand Canyon, but the worst she could come up with was “It’s too hard to look at … there’s too much to see.” The series will eventually honor all 62 of our barely adequate, just so-so national parks.

“It’s too hard to look at … there’s too much to see.”

ARIZONA
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is building President Donald Trump’s border wall in Organ Pipe National Monument in Arizona, a UNESCO biosphere reserve and a place sacred to the Tohono O’odham Nation. Newsweek reports that the Corps claims to be “carefully transplanting” some of the monument’s iconic saguaro cactus, but since when does that phrase mean “mowing cactus down with a bulldozer?” A staffer for the National Parks Conservation Association recently shared videos and pictures showing the Corps bulldozing majestic saguaros. Federal officials defended the destruction, saying some cactus just weren’t healthy enough to salvage. We suspect they were even less healthy after they’d been flattened.   

Tips and photos of Western oddities are appreciated and often shared in this column. Write [email protected] or tag photos #heardaroundthewest on Instagram. Alternatively email High Country News at [email protected] or submit a letter to the editor.

High Country News Classifieds
  • DESCHUTES LAND TRUST EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Deschutes Land Trust, based in Bend, Oregon, seeks a collaborative and strategic Executive Director to lead us in pursuing our mission: to conserve and care...
  • DEVELOPMENT MANAGER
    Job Title: Development Manager Supervisor: Senior Director of Development Effective Date: May 17, 2021 Job Status: Full-time (40 hours/week), exempt Location: Within the Colorado Plateau...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AT FRIENDS OF CEDAR MESA
    - The Land, History, and People of the Bears Ears Region - The Bears Ears and Cedar Mesa region is one of the most beautiful,...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Job Title: Executive Director Reports To: Board of Directors Compensation: $75,000 to $80,000, plus generous benefits and paid leave. Funding for relocation expenses available. Classification:...
  • WATER DIRECTOR
    Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. Application review will begin on April 2, 2021 and will continue until the position has been filled....
  • CLIMATE JUSTICE FELLOW
    High Country News, an award-winning magazine covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks applicants for a climate justice fellowship. The fellowship...
  • VIRGINIA SPENCER DAVIS FELLOWSHIP
    High Country News, an award-winning magazine covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, is offering a fellowship for early-career journalists interested in...
  • COLORADO WILD PUBLIC LANDS VIDEO CONTEST
    Please submit your video of 30 seconds or less, taken on public lands, to [email protected] by May 15th for a chance to win in one...
  • WMAN NETWORK COORDINATOR
    WESTERN MINING ACTION NETWORK (WMAN) CONTRACT OPPORTUNITY CLOSING DATE: Feb. 19, 2021 WMAN is seeking a team member to coordinate the various network activities to...
  • FRIENDS OF THE INYO IS HIRING TRAIL AMBASSADORS FOR THE SUMMER OF 2021
    Friends of the Inyo's Trail Ambassadors (TAs) support the Inyo, Sierra, & Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forests and other partners by providing positive public service, outreach, interpretation,...
  • LAND & CABIN ON CO/ UT LINE
    18 ac w/small solar ready cabin. Off grid, no well. Great RV location. Surrounded by state wildlife area and nat'l parks.
  • MANAGER PERMACULTURE LANDSCAPE CONTRACTOR
    Permaculture / Landscape Company Manager / Site Lead Red Ant Works, Inc. - 20+ year landscape construction and horticultural care company seeks manager and site...
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Field seminars for adults in natural and human history of the Colorado Plateau with lodge, river trip and base camp options. Small groups, guest experts.
  • COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER
    San Juan Citizens Alliance is looking for a passionate, dynamic, organized, and technology-savvy communications professional to help grow our membership and presence in the Four...
  • ENERGY AND CLIMATE PROGRAM ASSOCIATE
    San Juan Citizens Alliance seeks an Energy and Climate Program Associate to focus on public outreach, education and organizing to advance campaigns to mitigate climate...
  • REAL ESTATE SPECIALIST
    This position provides professional real estate services and is responsible for managing and completing real estate projects utilizing a project management database that is designed...
  • WILDFIRE MITIGATION SPECIALIST
    The Wildfire Mitigation Specialist is responsible for delivering wildfire risk mitigation information, recommendations and programmatic resources to wildland urban interface homeowners, community members and partners....
  • DEVELOPMENT POSITIONS
    Thorne Nature Experience is hiring for a Development Director and Senior Individual Giving Manager. Individuals will work collaboratively with Thorne's Executive Director to develop and...
  • WESTERN NATIVE SEED
    Native plant seeds for the Western US. Trees, shrubs, grasses, wildflowers and regional mixes. Call or email for free price list. 719-942-3935. [email protected] or visit...
  • THE LAND DESK: A PUBLIC LANDS NEWSLETTER
    Western lands and communities--in context--delivered to your inbox 3x/week. From award-winning journalist and HCN contributor Jonathan P. Thompson. $6/month; $60/year.