Letters to the editor, October 2022

Comments from readers.

 

LANDBACK LOVE

6 questions about the LandBack movement answered” (September 2022) might tempt me to subscribe to your publication.

I believe we owe much to the descendants of the survivors of the wipe-out of our Indigenous cultures as well as those whose ancestors were held as slaves or suffered the oppression of the Jim Crow era.

We must fix these things. The LandBack movement could be a part of that fixing.

AJ Womack
Grand Junction, Colorado

 

SUPERB SNARK

Thank you so much for the two delightfully snarky pieces: “6 questions about the LandBack movement answered” and “The new top ways to go outside” (September 2022). When all else fails, humor communicates. Truly, if/when I pay off my mortgage, I plan to keep sending the amount of the payment to the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe. It’s clear that the 1/5 of an acre parcel that I call mi querencia is not really mine.

Pat Rauscher
Cortez, Colorado

 

HIKING FODDER

Thank you so much for “The new top ways to go outdoors.” Not only did I truly enjoy the graphics, but I so much loved the sentiment and writing as well. So wonderfully and helpfully thought-provoking. I hope to print it and look at it when I’m hiking to remind myself. 

Lisa Felipa
Oakland, California

  

HOPE & CELEBRATION

Nick Mott’s article, “Flooding could breathe life into Yellowstone ecosystem” (September 2022) and geomorphologist Karin Boyd’s optimism filled me with hope and made my morning. It is refreshing to read of habitats that have the possibility of thriving despite human communities suffering. I appreciate the scenes of the cottonwood seeds, reclaiming rivers, fresh animal tracks — none of which  gets celebrated enough. I hope these sacred habitats come first in the planning of what happens next in the Yellowstone area.

Brittany Bergin-Foss
Carbondale, Colorado

 

METHANE’S POTENCY

In Elizabeth Shogren’s informative article “The EPA has more options to rein in climate change than you think” (September 2022), she repeats a common claim about reducing greenhouse emissions by generating electricity with gas instead of coal, following with an important disclaimer that natural gas is mostly methane, an extremely potent greenhouse gas, which leaks as part of the process.

Methane is at least 80 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than CO2 over a 20-year period, and calculations show greenhouse impact would be doubled by just 1.25% methane leakage. So gas may be as bad, or worse, than coal for generating electricity.

Methane does not remain in the atmosphere as long as CO2. Given the urgency of the climate crisis, we should be thinking in terms of 20, not 100, years. 

Dick Walton
Billings, Montana

 

AUGUST ON FIRE

Thank you for the issue we needed on wildfire (“Our Fiery Future,” August 2022). My community in Oregon is almost two years into recovery from a devastating wildfire in 2020. I’ve seen firsthand the truth in your reporting. Fire-defensible homes burn in firestorms (“It Takes a Village”). Escape routes are cut off by exploding spot fires, falling trees and burning cars. Western communities need safe areas within communities — school athletic fields, parks, large gravel areas — for people to survive.

The story of rebuilding after the fire (“After the Flames”) is vitally important. It’s barely covered, and it’s not what people think it is. Rebuilding a community, its complete infrastructure and civic-community structure is an entirely different animal from rebuilding homes. People are dispersed and traumatized; the bureaucratic processes are bewildering; utilities would like to abandon rural burned areas. Disaster recovery is a much-needed emerging professional field in our new era of climate change and catastrophe.

Val Rapp
McKenzie Bridge, Oregon

 

Oh, I am so glad! The August issue is outstanding with great writers presenting fascinating research. My magazine is torn apart as I have sent the articles to various friends and my daughter.

Elaine Davis
Missoula, Montana

  

PODCAST PRAISE

We love that the July 2022 issue of HCN included a review of four Western-based podcasts. We’ve listened to two of them so far, and they’ve been both educational and enjoyable.

Tom Welker & Nancy Fisher 
South Lyon, Michigan

 

THE REAL WATER USERS

Nick Bowlin correctly notes in his article about the severe drought conditions in the Colorado River Basin that at least 70% of Western water is used by Big Ag (“The feds declined to seriously cut Colorado River water use. Here’s what that means,” hcn.org, 8/18/22).

He fails to point out that a large majority of that ag water is used to raise cattle, irrigate pastures and grow the (water-hungry) alfalfa that feeds ’em. By a large margin, hay is the biggest crop grown in Western states. In California, hay and pasture suck up twice as much water as tree nuts and four times as much as fruit or rice or corn. While cattle/hay/pasture consume huge amounts of precious Western water, they create few jobs and contribute a tiny percentage to Western states’ GDP. Cattle produce large amounts of waste byproducts that befoul our air, land and water.

Want to do your part to ease Western water woes? Stop eating beef.

Chuck Shaw
Spring Grove, Pennsylvania

 

AUTHOR ACCLAIM

I started paying close attention to anything Jonathan Thompson wrote for the magazine in 2016, after his fabulous coverage of the Bears Ears National Monument designation fight/process. I’ve been hooked on his work ever since and feel so grateful to see the Facts & Figures section each month. Data is powerful! I rarely read emails from organizations, but “Landline” has me squinting at my phone screen over my morning cup of coffee. 

Thank you!

Hannah Black
Marblemount, Washington

 

We welcome reader letters. Email High Country News at [email protected] or submit a letter to the editor. See our letters to the editor policy.

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