Dear friends

  • Basic instructions for hunting season

    Shara Rutberg

Thank you, Driggs

Three times a year HCN holds board meetings and potlucks with subscribers around the region. Until recently, we tended to gather in places like Sun Valley or Boulder.

Those are good places, but we realized we were neglecting less well-known towns. So last winter we met in Colorado Springs, famous as home to the religious right. In the spring we met in Grand Junction, Colo., a former uranium and oil shale boomtown. The winter meeting (Feb. 2, 1997) will be in Socorro, home to the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology and the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.

When we meet in an Aspen or a Moab, we always compete with several other environmental events. But one woman at the Driggs, Idaho, potluck, held Sept. 28, said: "I couldn't believe you were coming here. I thought the invitation was a mistake." Her disbelief was strengthened when we forgot to mention the Driggs potluck meeting in this column. Nevertheless, she showed up at the American Legion hall bearing food. As did approximately 50 other people, some from as far away as Idaho Falls and Jackson, Wyo. The food and conversation were great, and as always, ceremony was held to under a minute, since the main intent of these events is to learn what's happening locally.

Driggs-Victoria-Tetonia is a typical Western metroplex, holding a few thousand people. Its farm economy is waning, as you can see from the "plop art" subdivisions planted in flat fields or shoved back into the western foothills of the Teton Range. And an "amenity" economy is waxing, as shown by the commuter traffic that snakes its way each day over Teton Pass into Jackson.

The board meeting had some good news and some bad news. HCN is at a record high circulation - over 18,000 subscribers - but growth may be faltering. In the past, HCN's junk mailings generally brought a 1.2 percent return. But the most recent mailing dropped below 1 percent. If circulation stalls below 20,000, this won't surprise staff and some board members who not so long ago were sure the paper would never reach 10,000 readers.

Writers on the Range moves to HCN

So the board voted to go in another direction - syndication. Rocky Barker, former editorial page editor of the Idaho Falls Post-Register, with the help of writer Karl Hess Jr., has developed Writers on the Range, whose purpose is to fill the op-ed pages of Western daily and weekly newspapers with essays about the West by Western writers.

Rocky and Karl put together a network of willing writers and then promoted the idea to newspapers stretching from Texas to Montana to California. With that work done, Rocky Barker told the HCN board, they would like to turn over the project to High Country News. The board accepted the gift, discussed putting one or two members of Writers on the Range on the paper's board of directors, and instructed staff to prepare a business plan.

The board also heard from Driggs resident Ginnie Newsom, who is doing research on immigration into the West. She described the effects of the recent immigration raid in Jackson, which deported 100 workers, leaving old people and children stranded in trailers back in the Driggs area. Over 90 percent of the "criminal" activity in Teton County is attributed to immigrants, she said.

"But of course they get arrested and jailed for things like burned-out headlights, which I wouldn't even get stopped for." She also said that an estimated 70 percent of the agricultural labor force in Idaho is made up of immigrants.

The board meeting was attended by board president Dan Luecke of Boulder, Colo.; Farwell Smith of Big Timber, Mont,; Diane Josephy Peavey of Carey, Idaho; Luis Torres of Santa Cruz, N.M.; Tom France of Missoula, Mont.; Emily Swanson of Bozeman, Mont.; Maria Mondragon-Valdez of San Luis, Colo.; and Maggie Coon of Seattle, Wash. In addition to Rocky Barker and Ginnie Newsom, foundation consultant Bill Mitchell of Seattle, Wash., was on hand.

Fall visitors

We're in the swing of fall now, thanks to crisp, cool mornings followed by intensely sunny afternoons. Staffers come to work bundled up, but in just a few hours it's back to shorts.

Visitors on one hot afternoon included Tom Weis, who works in Hood River, Ore., for the whistleblower group, PEER - Public Employees for Public Responsibility - and friend Claudia Zaglauer, a biology student from Munich, Germany.

Taking a break from moving from Boulder, Colo., to rural and much quieter Dolores, Colo., were Nina Williams, Mark Youngquist and their toddler son, Moki. She once worked with the monthly Econews in Arcata, Calif., he most recently was a brewmaster at Boulder Beer.

Oklahoman Tim Stebler dropped in after leading his thirteenth volunteer trip for the Sierra Club in the Collegiate Range near Leadville, Colo., and former intern Shara Rutberg, now living in Crested Butte, Colo., told us about a new twist on those roadside cartons into which hunters are supposed to drop their deer hides or the wings of game birds (see photo this page).

Take your pick

P.J. Ryan's monthly Thunderbear, "the oldest alternative newsletter in the federal government," always tells us something provocative; this time he writes about a tour guide in the ancient Mayan city of Palenque, Mexico, who could teach interpreters in our Park Service a thing or two. His name was Eduardo, and he was tri-lingual and very relativistic:

" 'The tour depends on your needs and your beliefs,' " he said. "Eduardo explained that we could have the Mormon Tour, tailored to the beliefs of the members of that faith, who believe that Jesus Christ had appeared in the New World after his crucifixion in Jerusalem and that the real name of Palenque was Sarem; then there was the Crystal Tour designed for believers in the power of crystals that could be recharged, very much like a spiritual nickel-cadmium battery, by taking them into certain of the temples.

"You could bring your own crystal or Eduardo would supply you with one for a nominal fee; there was the Atlantis Tour for those who believed the Mayans were survivors of that lost continent, then there was a sort of New Age or Worlds in Collision Tour for those who believe that the Mayans were space aliens.

"Last but certainly not least was the government-approved archaeological tour for those with no creative imagination. "They are all true in their own way," Eduardo said solemnly." Ryan writes that he was amazed, since he'd never heard a Park Service interpreter offer the customer a choice. Thunderbear is a "non-profit journal of the Celestial Civil Service" and costs $13.50 a year from P.O. Box 2341, Silver Spring, MD 20915.

It's Research Fund time

Associate publisher Linda Bacigalupi says many readers have just received a letter from us requesting a contribution to the High Country News Research Fund. We begin our annual fundraising campaign each year around Oct. 1, and ask readers to consider a contribution in addition to subscribing to the paper.

We rely on readers instead of advertisers to cover editorial costs. And each year some 4,000 find HCN valuable enough to respond to one of our Research Fund appeals. We only ask readers to make one contribution a year, but if we don't hear back we may send one more letter asking for this annual contribution. Without reader support, there is no High Country News.

If you did not receive a letter in early October, it means you contributed to the Research Fund sometime in the last 12 months. You will receive a renewal request around the anniversary date of your last contribution. Linda B., as we call her, hopes this will be more convenient, but please feel free to set your own time table.


In a Hotline about Grand Gulch, Utah (HCN, 9/30/96), we said the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance probably wouldn't appeal the building of a new BLM visitor center. SUWA staffer Ken Rait says the group has not forgone the option of appealing.

- Betsy Marston and Ed Marston, for the staff

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