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for people who care about the West

Dear friends


Thanks, Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs is best known as the home of Fort Carson, the "Star Wars" missile defense, Focus on the Family and assorted "patriots." But the board and staff of High Country News discovered another side to the town: a spirited environmental community that turned out in force for the potluck following our board of directors' meeting.

A near-record 70 subscribers showed up bearing covered dishes, and most had the same reaction: "I never dreamt there were this many HCN readers in Colorado Springs."

The dinner was bolstered by readers from elsewhere. Eric and Kelly Dalton came the farthest, from Cheyenne, Wyo., where he works on ICBMs for the Air Force. Ed and Martha Quillen, who put out the Colorado Central monthly, and daughters Abbey and Columbine, came in from Salida. And Kaye Jacobsen, who owns a Maaco Auto Painting operation in Pueblo, showed up to talk about her favorite issue: the proposed gambler train from Colorado Springs to Cripple Creek. From nearby Woodland Park came Republican county commissioner Cal Elder.

HCN has no board members in Colorado Springs, so we depended on local people to help set up the meeting. Val Viers, who teaches physics at Colorado College, got us the room for the daytime board meeting and the evening potluck. And John Weiss, who runs the Colorado Springs Independent, donated a pony keg and put us in touch with the Hearthstone Inn bed-and-breakfast. Thanks to a sudden snowstorm on the West Slope, there was a lot less staff than we had planned on. We needed fewer rooms, and we're grateful the Hearthstone Inn was good enough not to charge for them.

The board meeting itself lacked a quorum, in part due to the storm. But the eight who showed up adopted a financial budget for 1996, elected two new board members, put in a full afternoon on a long-range plan, and decided to hold the next board meeting in Grand Junction, Colo., May 18. (All actions are contingent on calls to the board members who couldn't make the meeting.)

The 1995 financial results ended up $4,000 in the red on income of $822,000, but staff proposed a balanced budget for 1996 based on projected income of $933,000. Unlike "real" newspapers, most of HCN's income comes from subscribers - $519,000 in subscription payments, $254,000 in gifts to the Research Fund, and $15,000 from the Combined Federal Campaign. Advertising will bring in an estimated $20,000, grants an estimated $80,000, and T-shirt sales $3,000.

Also unlike real newspapers, half of whose expenses - thanks to page after page of ads - are newsprint, HCN spends only $48,000, or about 5 percent of its expenses, on newsprint. We're proudest of the $100,000 per year the paper pays to its network of freelance writers, up from $20,000 per year in the mid-1980s.

Staff salaries in 1996 will consume about $333,000, down $4,000 from 1995. HCN will also spend $53,000 mailing the paper and another $31,000 mailing renewal notices and the like. Housing the paper and providing housing and heat for interns will cost $12,000 in 1996. Capital expenses for new computers and improvements to the intern house will eat up $21,000.

The board voted unanimously to elect Tom Huerkamp and Suzanne Hopkins to the board. Tom, a resident of Austin, Colo., is a hunter and an opponent of prisons, especially of prisons situated on wildlife habitat (see HCN, June 26, 1995). Suzanne has been active in Western conservation organizations since 1986, including Wyoming and Colorado Trout Unlimited and the National Wildlife Federation.

Looking ahead

The long-range planning document took the largest part of the meeting, with staff saying that the document was both too ambitious and too prescriptive to be achieved during five years. Among other things, it calls for syndication of stories, expansion into electronic media, better coverage of non-Anglo issues, and doubling of circulation to 35,000.

Board members agreed, but they also said the plan was intended to set high goals. Overall, board members said, the plan is to increase the influence of HCN.

Those attending were board president Dan Luecke of Boulder, Colo.; Karil Froh-boese, a past board president from Park City, Utah, at her last meeting; Emily Swanson of Bozeman, Mont.; Judy Jacobsen of Boulder, Colo.; Michael Ehlers of Boulder, Colo.; Diane Josephy Peavey of Carey, Idaho; Tom France of Missoula, Mont.; and Farwell Smith of McLeod, Mont.

The index and the superindex

This issue contains the 1995 index. If you find articles you would like to read, and you don't have back copies, you can order them from HCN. Or you can do as David Blanchard did a few weeks ago. He wrote to us that "an argument was raging on the rec.ski.backcountry Usenet newsgroup about the impact of snowmobile pollution in Yellowstone National Park." He remembered that HCN had run an article on the subject. So he logged onto HCN's site on the World Wide Web and used our search engine to find the article "and post relevant portions of it to "settle" (ha!) that argument."

The last three years of HCN are on the World Wide Web. The address is listed just above the recycled symbol at the bottom left-hand corner of this page.


We appreciate, and publish, freelance writer Tony Davis' fine work out of New Mexico. Now Tony has received wider recognition: honorable mention in the John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism contest for his special supplement, "Roots of Anger," published by the Albuquerque Tribune in May 1995. The award is administered by the National Resources Defense Council.

Congratulations also to former HCN intern Adam Duerk of Paonia, who survived a fall through a snow-covered skylight onto a concrete floor while working as a carpenter on a 24,000-square-foot house in Aspen. He is recovering rapidly from compressed vertebrae and a broken collarbone.

* Ed Marston for the staff