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Know the West

Dear friends


About that toilet paper

Cadillac Desert author Marc Reisner sent us a copy of a letter he wrote to former Durango, Colo., mayor Jeff Morrissey, a friend of the Animas-La Plata project and an enemy of all A-LP's opponents. Morrissey was quoted as saying he wipes his *** with Reisner's book. Reisner's response, only the latest episode in this dam war, follows:

Dear Mr. Former Mayor,

I want to thank you for your complimentary remarks about my book, Cadillac Desert, as quoted in High Country News, 12/9/96. I must say, though, that while I certainly appreciate the added royalty payments I am receiving, thanks to your habit of using my book to wipe your ***, I come from thrifty German stock and rue the unnecessary expense that your sanitary practices must cause you. (By the way, do you wipe your *** with an entire book, or just a page from the book? It certainly must be awkward using an entire book, and perhaps not even that efficient.)

Since you evidently believe that the U.S. taxpayers have a moral imperative to spend about a billion-and-a-half dollars to bring irrigation water to a patch of Southwestern desert the size of Brooklyn, saving money - even your own - may be an utterly foreign concept to you. Nonetheless, I am enclosing, with my compliments, a roll of toilet paper (not the cheapest marque by any means) to relieve you, at least temporarily, of the expense of stockpiling copies of Cadillac Desert in your bathroom. You may want to continue wiping yourself with the book, but at least your houseguests could be urged to use the paper.

If you really prefer the book, I can get you a nice volume discount.


Marc Reisner
San Anselmo, California

Count the apostrophes

HCN reader Ramon, the Idaho activist who advocates a stay in jail to stop logging, loves to collect Westernisms. He says he's fond of this sign in the Choteau Bar in Montana because of its random apostrophes. He lost count at six: "No shoe's, sandal's and boot's, no shirt's, any kind will do, no service, we're' friendly. Bra's are checked at door."


Idaho Conservation League president Jerry Pavia told us that due to this paper's disorganization, we'd left out a crucial sentence in his letter responding to Greg Brothers' criticism of environmental groups such as ICL for being disorganized (HCN,12/23/96). The sentence reads: "I would encourage you to call our office in Boise (208/345-6933) to request membership information and note what kind of response you receive."

On the back page of that same issue we ran an essay by John Clayton about the successful effort of Red Lodge, Mont., to keep its post office from moving out of the downtown. A reader in fast-growing McCall, Idaho, population 2,200, called to say that copies of the page had been circulated at city hall and elsewhere in an attempt to rally the community, which is facing what Red Lodge faced: The Postal Service is close to a final decision on selecting a site for a new post office.

It's been frustrating, trying to keep the post office downtown or at least not in some shopping center outside of town, McCall City Manager Gary Shimun tells us. The hardest part, he adds, is dealing with Denver-based Postal Service staffers who seem "immune to public opinion." McCall, once a logging town but now a mecca for tourists, retirees and computer-workers, just completed a planning effort that identified its downtown post office as "an integral part of the community," says businesswoman Kathy Showers. But she was not optimistic about changing the mind-set of the federal agency.

A lion in his profession

A reader called to tell us of the death Jan. 7 of an outstanding wildlife biologist, Allen E. Anderson, 69, who had retired seven years ago to Montrose in western Colorado. Intern Danielle Desruisseaux spoke to several of Anderson's colleagues last week and was struck by their sense of loss - not just of a meticulous scientist but of a man whose professionalism had set a standard. Anderson first studied mule deer and then spent seven years tracking lions on foot across the rugged Uncompahgre Plateau of southwestern Colorado. His work on lions remains the state's most complete study.

Bruce Gill, a wildlife researcher for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, said Anderson was the most hard-working person he ever met, adding that he was an early advocate of hiring women into the male-dominated field.

"If my shadow comes anywhere close to the size of his shadow, I'd be proud," Gill said. "He was one of the lions in the profession." Memorial contributions may be sent to the Colorado Chapter of the Wildlife Society, 502 University Services Center, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

True winter, true grit

We know it's cold and unpredictable these days living at close to 6,000 feet, but then we heard about real cold from former intern Pete McBride, who lives near Aspen, Colo. Last fall and winter he helped build Colorado's 11th cabin in the Tenth Mountain Division system of backcountry huts. His report appears below.

- Betsy Marston for the staff