Dear friends

  • Environmental watchdogs Bruce Bowler and Cecil Andrus

    Diane Ronayne
  • Environmental watchdog Nelle Tobias

    Diane Ronayne
  • Environmental watchdog Ernie Day

    Diane Ronayne
  • Alice Lake in the Sawtooth Wilderness

    Ernie Day

They have our thanks

Boise, Idaho, resident Kay Hummel sent us a note one night because she was too excited to sleep. She said she and close to 200 people had just attended a tribute to three of Idaho's environmental heroes, and the feelings generated at the event Feb. 24 were still warm. Those honored ranged in age from 77 to 90, which meant that they'd begun fighting for wild places before many environmental groups in the state were even formed. Expressing gratitude for their example made for a thrilling night, she said.

Photographer Ernie Day, one of those honored, called it an "old-fashioned love-in." Landscape architect Nelle Tobias saw it as a "homecoming" although Boise attorney Bruce Bowler almost didn't attend, telling people he didn't think he'd "done enough."

Cecil Andrus, former governor of Idaho and a former Interior Secretary, was joined by Bethine Church, who worked with her husband, Sen. Frank Church, for wilderness, and activist Pat Ford in recounting some battles waged by the honorees. Bowler, a hunter and fisherman, took on a dam and subsidized ranchers through the years. Day took out after a molybdenum mine slated for the White Cloud Mountains and helped create the Sawtooth Wilderness. Tobias also fought the moly mine - which did not get built - and lobbied for designating the first wilderness in the state. Rounding it all out, Kay added, were slides of some of Idaho's magnificent peaks and forests. "It made many people tearful," Kay said. "It reminded us why we continue to care."

A video was made of the event; for more information call 208/343-8153.

"Ski, what is to ski?"

Thanks to former HCN senior editor Ray Ring, who is happily writing a novel at his home office in Bozeman, Mont., we have an update on Dabo Lamine, the black West African who came to work in Colorado's mostly white ski country. (Dabo's last name was "Pobot" in Ray's story, due to the imperfections of cross-cultural journalism, and arising from Dabo's writing a P.O. Box after his name.) Anyway, since the HCN story, 4/17/95, on the West's "servant economy" Dabo has worked steadily as a housekeeper at a resort hotel, while continuing to help fellow Africans who were imported here for contract labor. At times, Ray reports, Dabo works a second shift serving fast food. He's also taking courses in computers and English and he somehow manages to send money to his family in Mali.

Now, reports Ray, out of the blue the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service has ordered a review of his immigration status. Back in Mali, Dabo says, he also spoke up for workers' rights and wound up getting in trouble for it. If he can't satisfy the government here, he'll be deported. Dabo has hired an immigration attorney in Denver, who says it will cost $2,000 to handle the case. So far, Dabo has put together about $500 for the legal bill.

"Some HCN readers have already reached out to Dabo, helping him with friendship and a secondhand computer," adds Ray. "If anyone wishes to help with the immigration case, Dabo's phone number, useful mostly at night, is 970/262-1939; his address is P.O. Box 1356, Silverthorne, CO 80498."

Blockbuster of a book

Kristy Colborn, who teaches special education at a school near the HCN office, dropped in to show us a copy of her mother's book "that's flying out of stores." It is Theo Colborn's Our Stolen Future, written with Dianne Dumanoski and John Peterson Myers, with a foreword by Vice President Al Gore. Increasingly famous, Theo's was once a familiar face in this town of 1,400, since she worked here during the early 1970s as a pharmacist. She left in the 1980s to earn a doctorate in zoology from the University of Wisconsin. Picking up where Rachel Carson left off in Silent Spring, Theo and her co-authors examine the threat to health from chemicals that mimic hormones. These "endocrine disrupters' exact a price, ranging from birth defects to sterility. According to Kristy, the book is now in its fourth printing; the first printing of 25,000 by Dutton sold out before most reviews appeared.

Staff updates

Meg O'Shaughnessy did a wonderful job deciphering unclassifieds and running the mail room for High Country News, but her first love has always been babies - she is a midwife - and children. So Meg, who recently received a package from the Society of American Foresters addressed phonetically - -Meg Oceana' - has left us for a job with a program called Great Start Family. Meg now spends time with moms and their toddlers, instead of zip codes and job announcements. We'll miss her and son, Josh, 9, who loved to pitch in as our office filled with mail bags.

Barcoding, educators, issues and more

HCN's 8th annual reader survey should arrive in mailboxes in the next two weeks. It asks for your help in improving the way our brand-new barcoding program works with our subscriber file - essential in getting the best postal rates and making sure this paper gets to you on time. It also asks your help in identifying educators who want to receive a packet of information about High Country News' classroom offers for the coming school year. And we're curious about how you use HCN, how important it is to you and what issues are going to be high on your agenda in the coming year.

If you have been getting these surveys regularly, you probably noticed the lack of questions about your age, gender, income or what outdoor products you use. That's because, unlike most publications, HCN isn't interested in promoting to advertisers. We are interested in improving our service to you, our readers. Staffers Linda Bacigalupi and Gretchen Nicholoff hope you will take a few minutes to send us your comments in the postage-paid envelope.

- Betsy Marston for the staff

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