We began 2019 with a look back — 30 years back, to 1989. That seismic year in Las Vegas history was the subject of our January cover story. As part of it, we detailed the long-term reverberations of certain 1989 events. Among them: the designation of the desert tortoise as an endangered species, which had certain impacts on the state’s ranching industry. In the course of that brief story, we mentioned “the purchase of Southern Nevada ranchland.” As reader Jim Boone pointed out to us, that wasn’t technically correct: “What was purchased from willing sellers was grazing rights, not lands.” The ranchers never owned the land; the public does. This is important, he says, because our wording — which also included “refused to sell” and “create quite a stir over the federal takeover of (Bundy’s) land” — feeds the narrative that the government seized private land from ranchers. “In the future,” he advised, “please be more precise with your words, because this false narrative already has inflamed passions, led to the death of two police officers and the injury of numerous people, and created countless other problems that we still live with today.”
Let’s stay in the hinterlands for another minute. In our December issue, writer John Glionna took readers to the Austin Coyote Derby — a bloody annual coyote-killing contest of the kind common in rural areas. Annoula Wylderich, senior district leader volunteer for the Humane Society of the United States, wrote to say she appreciated Glionna’s detailed, nonjudgmental approach to telling a potentially controversial story: “Please convey my thanks to John Glionna for the excellent, and fair, reporting on coyote-killing contests. I’ve shared it with wildlife watchers, my friends at Coyote Project, and my colleagues in the Nevada Wildlife Alliance grass-roots group. This was an informative, revealing, and comprehensive article.”
January’s Open Topic essay was a heartfelt, sometimes furious, and sometimes funny meditation, by Stephanie Kutner, both on her life as an adjunct instructor — a class of workers famously underpaid and ill-treated by the Higher Education Industrial Complex — and the tough lives of some of her students. Reader Amy Thorpe: “WOW! I so appreciate your perspective and concern for our students. I, too, am an adjunct professor … I loved your article in Desert Companion so much. Keep at it. Each semester we see a few students who find their passion and fly. For all of them, we keep at it. … Thank you for your thoughts and efforts.”
Finally, in response to January’s story about UNLV professor George Rhee — who developed an online climate-change calculator, which measures the impact of large policy changes on the climate — Emily Clark wrote in to insist that small, personal acts matter, too. “It’s true that ‘individual changes aren’t enough to solve the problem of climate change,’ but arguably we could all contribute more. Using less electricity, buying local to reduce shipping costs, rooftop solar on every house and covering every parking lot, etc.” Think globally, conserve locally.