Dear Friends

 

Hello, uh, fire department

Pastures smudged with black ash, fast-rising billows of smoke visible from miles away, these are the signs that signal spring in this medium-altitude (5,600 feet) mountain valley.

"Burning ditch" is an annual rite here, followed in more than a few instances by emergency calls to a town's volunteer fire department (-Come quick! My grass fire's running away!') The culprits, locals will tell you, are an errant gust of wind, too short a hose, or the misguided belief that one or two people can run 10 places at once to pound out sparks with shovels.

Fire, we know from embarrassing experience, has a will of its own; it loves to sneak around and then flare up, usually in a neighbor's back yard or field. Runaway blazes this spring have been mostly contained, we hear, though the local public radio station, KVNF, lost one of its translators in March to a weed fire. Of course, the real question is why more of us don't learn to burn ditch safely. Could it be a pent-up need to get outdoors, once the snow melts off, to see what happened on the ground over winter? We can't answer the big questions about fire - although this issue's lead story makes a stab; all we can say for sure is that the weekend's coming up and there's a couple hundred feet of ditch to burn.

Staff updates

German radio producer Udo Zindel wasn't exactly staff here a few years ago; he was a "visiting journalist" who spent an active summer exploring Western issues and putting together a documentary about High Country News. It ran on German public radio, and now Udo tells us that the show, "aged like a good cheese, maturing but not spoiling," recently aired in Austria. We already knew that because a clipping from a Viennese newspaper somehow appeared in our office. It noted that HCN emanated from Paonia, a sleepy little town "at the end of the world." The review of Udo's work went on to say that the paper "documented the ecological awakening of a region we disdainfully call the "Wild West." "

Drop-ins

A half-dozen staffers spent time with mapmaker Louis Jaffe recently as he showed some of his latest work detailing open space and land targeted for development in the San Francisco Bay area. Jaffe, who works with the nonprofit Greenbelt Alliance, came to Paonia with his wife, Kitty Whitman, to visit her twin sister, Nell, a seemingly tireless English and Spanish teacher at Paonia High School, and her husband Bob Santmeyer. He's a philosophy instructor at Mesa State College in Grand Junction. The twins just celebrated their 30th birthday.

Subscribers Lance and Jennifer Barker of Canyon City, Ore., dropped by en route to relatives in eastern Kansas. She's a seasonal employee of the Malheur National Forest, and he's a tree farmer who's trying to recreate an old-growth stand of ponderosa pine. Driving into Paonia in their brick-red, "68 Volkswagen bug, they were struck by several signs announcing "organic" fruit and vegetables. "No one at home would put out anything that mentions the "O" word," he says.

In other news

Larimer County manager Frank Lancaster tells us the helpful Code of the West for newcomers that we mentioned in a Bulletin Board March 18 is available, but he'd like people requesting it to use a computer to cut down on the cost of "snail mail." Commissioner John Clarke's code can be read by checking in to home page http://www.co.larimer.co.us.

John Caccia, of Ketchum, Idaho, tells us that longtime environmental activist Bill Chisholm was admitted to the Bannock County jail recently for refusing to pay an additional $1,200 fine for spilling red paint onto a container of spent nuclear fuel. At the time of his offense, the state of Idaho was trying in federal court to halt nuclear waste shipments into the state. "Despite his imprisonment," Caccia continues, "Bill has vowed to continue his mission of bringing about a nationwide debate addressing our country's nuclear waste policies. If you would like to help Bill get out of jail and reinforce his message, write "Free Bill Chisholm Campaign," Box 344, Buhl, ID 83316."

* Betsy Marston for the staff

High Country News Classifieds
  • GRAND CANYON DIRECTOR
    The Grand Canyon director, with the Grand Canyon manager, conservation director, and other staff, envisions, prioritizes, and implements strategies for the Grand Canyon Trust's work...
  • ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
    Great Old Broads for Wilderness seeks a part-time Administrative Assistant to support the organization's general operations. This includes phone and email communications, office correspondence and...
  • HISTORIC LODGE AND RESTAURANT - FULLY EQUIPPED
    Built in 1901, The Crazy Mountain Inn has 11 guest rooms in a town-center building on 7 city lots (.58 acres). The inn and restaurant...
  • ONE WILL: THREE WIVES
    by Edith Tarbescu. "One Will: Three Wives" is packed with a large array of interesting suspects, all of whom could be a murderer ... a...
  • PROGRAM DIRECTOR, SALAZAR CENTER FOR NORTH AMERICAN CONSERVATION
    The Program Director will oversee the programmatic initiatives of The Salazar Center, working closely with the Center's Director and staff to engage the world's leading...
  • WILDEARTH GUARDIANS - WILD PLACES PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Salary Range: $70,000-$80,000. Location: Denver, CO, Portland, OR, Seattle, WA, Missoula, MT or potentially elsewhere for the right person. Application Review: on a rolling basis....
  • RIVER EDUCATOR/GUIDE + TRIP LEADER
    Position Description: Full-time seasonal positions (mid-March through October) Organizational Background: Colorado Canyons Association (CCA) is a 10 year old nonprofit organization fostering community stewardship of...
  • BOOKKEEPER/ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
    Position Description: Part-time, year-round bookkeeping and administration position (12 - 16 hours/week) $16 - $18/hour DOE Organizational Background: Colorado Canyons Association (CCA) is a 10...
  • LAND STEWARD
    San Isabel Land Protection Trust seeks a full-time Land Steward to manage and oversee its conservation easement monitoring and stewardship program for 42,437 acres in...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Ventana Wilderness Alliance is seeking an experienced forward-facing public land conservation leader to serve as its Executive Director. The mission of the Ventana Wilderness Alliance...
  • COMMUNICATIONS AND DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    The Quivira Coalition (www.quiviracoaltion.org) is a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic, and social health through education,...
  • GRANT WRITER
    "We all love this place we call Montana. We believe that land and water and air are not ours to despoil, but ours to steward...
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    The Development Director is responsible for organizing and launching a coherent set of development activities to build support for the Natural History Institute's programs and...
  • WILDLIFE PROJECT COORDINATOR
    Founded in 1936, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF or Federation) is America's largest and most trusted grassroots conservation organization with 53 state/territorial affiliates and more...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Cinnabar Foundation helps protect and conserve water, wildlife and wild lands in Montana and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem by supporting organizations and people who...
  • TRUSTEE AND PHILANTHROPY RELATIONS MANGER,
    Come experience Work You Can Believe In! The Nature Conservancy in Alaska is seeking a Trustee and Philanthropy Relations Manager. This position is critical to...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AT FRIENDS OF CEDAR MESA
    -The Land, History, and People of the Bears Ears Region- The Bears Ears and Cedar Mesa region is one of the most beautiful, complex, diverse,...
  • CONSERVATION SPECIALIST
    Position will remain open until January 31, 2021 Join Our Team! The New Mexico Land Conservancy (NMLC) is a non-profit land trust organization dedicated to...
  • OLIVERBRANCH CONSULTING
    Non-Profit Management Professional specializing in Transitional Leadership, Strategic Collaborations, Communications and Grant Management/Writing.
  • GREAT VIEWS, SMALL FOOTPRINT
    Close to town but with a secluded feel, this eco-friendly home includes solar panels, a graywater reuse system, tankless hot water, solar tubes, and rainwater...