COVID hollars; Gok’s uncertainty; best friend graffiti

Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.

 

WASHINGTON
What do you do when you’re bored and frustrated because COVID-19 is keeping you from working as a sous chef? If you’re avid bicyclist Matthew Fleming, you get on social media and offer to pedal to any house in Tacoma, Washington, and bellow out the greeting of your customer’s choice. In these days of social distancing, there’s a market: On one five-hour day, Fleming delivered 17 messages and told The News Tribune he hadn’t had a day off in more than a week. Many messages are “weird inside jokes between friends,” but a lot just say “I miss you.” Fleming doesn’t deliver negative messages, but there have been a few saucy ones, like: “Hey, Alyssa! When I get naked, the shower gets turned on!” Despite charging a mere $1 a shout-out (some customers pay more), he’s done well enough to donate his earnings to a bike shop, Second Cycle on Hilltop. He’s also resolved to take a day off: “My legs kind of hurt. … I also think I’m starting to tear some vocal cords.” But he plans to continue: “People are so happy. I can see their smiles from the middle of the street.”

COLORADO
In the 34 years Chere Waters has lived in the small town of Creede, Colorado, she’s hiked many nearby trails. On April 18, she felt prompted to leave Bachelor Loop Road and climb up a hill to an abandoned silver-mine shaft that’s been an open hazard for more than a century. “I don’t know what it was, but something was drawing me to go up there,” she told the Silverton Standard. So she asked her hiking partner to hold her legs while she peered over the edge. At the bottom of the 30-foot shaft, to her shock, a large animal lay sprawled. It looked like a deer, and, astonishingly, was still alive. Once state wildlife officer Brent Woodward came on the scene, he drugged the stranded animal — which turned out to be an elk — with a tranquilizer dart, and then carefully roped it and hauled it up. It was “pretty beat up,” he said — not surprising, since it might have been trapped down there for two or three days. But once the elk revived enough to stagger shakily to its feet, “she moved a few yards, turned and looked at us for a few seconds and then trotted away,” Woodward said. “It was great we could get her out alive.” As for the elk’s rescuer, Waters said she was glad she’d been “called to go to that place.”

THE NATION
Indur M. Goklany, who started working for the Interior Department in the 1980s, never attracted much attention until the Trump administration promoted him to an important job in 2017. Once he began reviewing the agency’s climate policies, however, his co-workers took notice, even coining the term “Gok’s uncertainty language” to describe his knack for inserting misleading wording into scientific reports, reports The New York Times. In at least nine reports, Goklany took it upon himself to completely change scientific opinion. Instead of acknowledging that the climate is warming to a dangerous degree, for example, he concluded,  “Some scientists have found the earth to be warming, while others have not.” He also cheerfully noted that even if it was warming, plants might benefit from more carbon dioxide in the air. Here in the West, some worried about Goklany’s impact on watersheds. The altered language in environmental impact studies, said the Times, “could be used to justify allocating increasingly scarce water to farmers at the expense of wildlife conservation and fisheries.” Samuel Myers, a Harvard research scientist, was putting it diplomatically when he called Goklany’s slant “extraordinarily misleading.” But the Bureau of Reclamation eagerly embraced Goklany’s wrongheaded approach, likely figuring that there’s not a dam thing the agency’s environmentalist critics can do about it anyway.

CALIFORNIA
A tourist from Grand Forks, British Columbia, yearned to tell the world about his love for his dog, so in 2019, and more recently this year, he left the words “Steve & Lacy” on a well, rocks and several historic structures in Death Valley. National Park Service staffer Abby Wines appealed to the public for tips leading to the perpetrator, and surprisingly, one of the tipsters turned out to be “Steve” himself, who confessed and also apologized. “The man’s cooperative attitude will likely be a mitigating factor,” Wines said. As for Lacy, the Park Service press release said she’s just a dog — though we’re sure she is a very good dog —  and is therefore considered “blameless.”

Tips and photos of Western oddities are appreciated and often shared in this column. Write [email protected] or tag photos #heardaroundthewest on Instagram.

High Country News Classifieds
  • DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT, ARIZONA CHAPTER
    What We Can Achieve Together: Arizona's Director of Development (DoD) is responsible for directing all aspects of one or more development functions, which will secure...
  • CAPACITY BUILDING PROGRAM MANAGER
    What We Can Achieve Together: The Capacity Building Program Manager works directly with the business unit's Arizona Healthy Cities Program Director to advance the Healthy...
  • MEMBERSHIP AND OFFICE MANAGER - FRIENDS OF THE INYO
    Friends of the Inyo - Donor database management & reporting, IT/HR, and office administrative support. PT or FT. Partly remote OK but some in-office time...
  • NORTHERN NEW MEXICO PROJECT MANAGER
    New Mexico Land Conservancy is seeking a qualified Northern New Mexico Project Manager to provide expertise, leadership and support to the organization by planning, cultivating,...
  • GRAPHIC AND DIGITAL DESIGNER
    Application deadline: December 17, 2022 Expected start date: January 16, 2023 Location: Amazon Watch headquarters in Oakland, CA Amazon Watch is a dynamic nonprofit organization...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Eugene, Ore. nonprofit Long Tom Watershed Council is seeking a highly collaborative individual to lead a talented, dedicated team of professionals. Full-time: $77,000 - $90,000...
  • GIS SPECIALIST
    What We Can Achieve Together: The GIS Specialist provides technical and scientific support for Geographic Information System (GIS) technology, data management, and visualization internally and...
  • LOWER SAN PEDRO PROGRAM MANAGER
    What We Can Achieve Together: The Lower San Pedro Program Manager directs some or all aspects of protection, science, stewardship and community relations for the...
  • FOREST RESTORATION SPATIAL DATA MANAGER
    What We Can Achieve Together: The Forest Restoration Spatial Data Manager fills an integral role in leading the design and development of, as well as...
  • WATER PROJECTS MANAGER, SOUTHERN AZ
    What We Can Achieve Together: Working hybrid in Tucson, AZ or remote from Sierra Vista, AZ or other southern Arizona locations, the Water Projects Manager,...
  • SENIOR STAFF THERAPIST/PSYCHOLOGIST: NATIVE AMERICAN STUDENT SPECIALIST
    Counseling Services is a department strategically integrated with Health Services within the Division of Student Services and Enrollment Management. Our Mission at the Counseling Center...
  • THE NATURE CONSERVANCY IS HIRING A LOCAL INITIATIVES COORDINATOR
    The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming seeks a Local Initiatives Coordinator to join our team. We're looking for a great communicator to develop, manage and advance...
  • LAND AND WATER PROTECTION MANAGER - NORTHERN ARIZONA
    We're Looking for You: Are you looking for a career to help people and nature? Guided by science, TNC creates innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our...
  • SENIOR CLIMATE CONSERVATION ASSOCIATE
    The Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC) seeks a Senior Climate Conservation Associate (SCCA) to play a key role in major campaigns to protect the lands, waters,...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Southern Nevada Conservancy Board of Directors announces an outstanding opportunity for a creative leader to continue building this organization. SNC proudly supports Nevada's public...
  • CORTEZ COLORADO LOT FOR SALE
    Historic tree-lined Montezuma Ave. Zoned Neighborhood Business. Build your dream house or business right in the heart of town. $74,000. Southwest Realty
  • ENVIRONMENTAL AND CONSTRUCTION GEOPHYSICS
    - We find groundwater, buried debris and assist with new construction projects for a fraction of drilling costs.
  • STRAWBALE HOME BESIDE MONTEZUMA WELL NAT'L MONUMENT
    Straw Bale Home beside Montezuma Well National Monument. Our property looks out at Arizona fabled Mogollon Rim and is a short walk to perennial Beaver...
  • ATTORNEY AD
    Criminal Defense, Code Enforcement, Water Rights, Mental Health Defense, Resentencing.
  • LUNATEC HYDRATION SPRAY BOTTLE
    A must for campers and outdoor enthusiasts. Cools, cleans and hydrates with mist, stream and shower patterns. Hundreds of uses.