The final stretch of our 50th anniversary campaign

We’re down to the wire and need your help.

 

Dear Readers,

When I became publisher a year ago, I found an organization that was doing essential — even heroic — work. Our journalists cover places that are overlooked by national media — small towns and rural communities, the working lands and wildlands of the Western U.S. We elevate stories of, by and for Indigenous people and others whose voices are too often unheard.

It was an organization poised for expansion, capable of speaking to a diverse and changing region and drawing thousands of new readers.

But it was in serious need of investment.

Sarah Watson climbs Skinwalker in Moab, Utah.
François Lebeau

HCN prides itself on making the most of every dollar, but our systems are antiquated. Our website is like an old tractor: The thing still runs, but it’s held together with duct tape and baling twine. The same goes for the systems that track your subscriptions and market HCN.

That’s why, for our 50th anniversary, we launched an ambitious $10 million fundraising campaign. Now we’re down to the wire. With just weeks to go, we still need $650,000. If you’ve already given, we offer our heartfelt thanks! And if you haven’t donated yet, or are able to give again, we need your help right now.

With your dollars, we’ll build a new website and put more journalists on the ground in a region where local newspapers are vanishing. And we’ll train the next generation of journalists through our intern program, which has launched more than 225 careers so far, including my own.

Please make a special 50th contribution today. Call us at 800-905-1155, return the envelope from the next page, or give online.

With gratitude,

–Greg Hanscom, executive director and publisher

Friday, June 4, 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. MT

We hope you will join us as we look back on 50 incredible years of journalism in the West. Enjoy powerful performers and speakers, along with live and silent auction items and a paddle raiser to help us finish the final leg of our 50th Anniversary Campaign.

Admission is FREE! Please register to join the festivities.

Sharing stories

ON EARTH DAY 2021, 91 HCN readers joined former publisher Paul Larmer for a virtual stroll down memory lane. Some legendary editors and writers gathered on Zoom to reminisce about HCN’s first 50 years. Shortly before editor Joan Nice Hamilton came to Lander, Wyoming, in the 1970s, founder Tom Bell, in a fit of despair, threw the upcoming issue’s paste-up sheets in the dumpster. His unpaid part-time staffers rescued them, telling him he couldn’t quit. And readers responded, sending in what was then a fortune — $30,000. Tom was able to hire Joan and her boyfriend, Bruce Hamilton, for a combined $600 a month, and the rest is history. Watch Joan and Bruce — and Betsy Marston, Jonathan Thompson and Michelle Nijhuis — at  hcne.ws/memory-lane.

One of Bruce’s first stories was about a young anti-strip-
mining activist, Louise Dunlap. Sadly, Louise passed away this spring, but she left an enduring legacy, including the 1977 Surface Mining Control & Reclamation Act, which requires coal companies to get permits and post reclamation bonds. “Louise and her husband, Joe Browder, were an incredibly effective lobbying dynamo,” HCN board member Andy Wiessner recalled. “And they did it with such passion and grace.”

David Maren of Flagstaff, Arizona, visited HCN’s home office in Paonia, Colorado, a few years ago, but the staff was out, so his visit was lost to posterity. Paul Larmer tried to make amends when he met David at a Flagstaff coffee shop in late February. A veteran river rat who once ran the Grand Canyon with writer Ed Abbey, David said life in Flagstaff revolves around water and smoke. Two summers ago, he had to hurriedly pack as air tankers dropped water on a racing wildfire on the Coconino National Forest. Fortunately, parts of the forest were recently thinned and burned, part of a taxpayer-financed watershed protection project. “Now, when I smell smoke,” he said, “I think, ‘healthy forest.’ ”

Phil Hedrick and Cathy Gorman at their property along Aravaipa Creek, Arizona.
Paul Larmer

When conservation biologist Phil Hedrick started working at Arizona State University in broiling downtown Phoenix, his spouse, Cathy Gorman, found a cooler weekend refuge: 50 acres along Aravaipa Creek. The creek was flowing nicely below newly leafed-out cottonwoods when Larmer visited the couple, subscribers since 1991. In a pasture sprinkled with aging nut trees, Cathy once raised Navajo churro, sheep bred by Southwestern Indigenous nations ever since the Spanish arrived in the 16th century. As Cathy worked to preserve the herd’s genetic diversity, Phil labored to recover the endangered Mexican gray wolf, also imperiled by a lack of genetic diversity — an effort that, as readers know, some ranchers still fiercely resist. Hedrick, who retired in 2016, says over 300 wolves, including zoo-raised pups inserted into active, wild dens, now roam the mountains between Arizona and New Mexico.  —Paul Larmer

Email High Country News at [email protected] or submit a letter to the editor.

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