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4.41 Nk. IIIT OF HAPPINESS GROWNUP GIFTS FOR KIDS OF ALL AGES AUSTIN NEW STORE NORTH SOUTH RESEARCH E. RIVERSIDE STASSNEY 832-8544 443-2292 502-9323 441-5555 707-9069 NEW STORE!! SAN MARCOS \(512 392-4596 SAN ANTONIO NEW STORE EAST CENTRAL EVERS MILITARY WEST AVE 654-8536 822-7767 521-5213 333-3043 525-0708 NEW STORE! IN AUSTIN CESAR CHAVEZ 3111 E. CESAR CHAVEZ \(East of Pleasant Valley 247-2222 3601 S. Congress off E. Alpine Penn Field under the water tower check our site for monthly calendar SWIM Naga it International Headquarters Come Visit us for LUNCH! In addition to our organic coffee, pizzas, empanadas, pastries and pies, we now prepare made to order sandwiches, salads, and even black bean gazpacho. RIVER BASINS OF THE AMERICAN WEST: A HIGH COUNTRY NEWS READER Edited by Char Miller OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY PRESS 320 PAGES, $24.95 READ the High Country News at READ POWELL’S REPORT at AUTHOR’S NOTE HERE WERE DAYS WHEN TOM BELL MUST have wondered what he had been thinking. In August 1969, he purchased Camping News Weekly and a year later renamed it High Country News, launch ing what has become home to some of the best environmental reporting in the American West. Operating on a shoestring, the News captured devoted readers, yet not enough to pay the bills. So Bell sold his ranch, cashed in stocks and liquidated his savings. In 1973 he announced he could do no more and would have to shut down the News. Within days, money-stuffed envelopes poured in, enough to save the paper. “Somehow we have cre ated another bond between people across a far-flung land,” Bell editorialized. The fight to save the News took its toll on Bell’s health, and a year later, he sold his stake. His successors struggled to keep the paper afloat even as they turned out one brilliant issue after another over the next 40 years. The story should sound familiar to hard-core Observer fans. Though the two periodicals’ origins are distinct the Observer was born amid the civil rights movement of the early 1950s; the News’ first issue appeared in 1970, the year the nation celebrated the inaugural Earth Day they still have much in common. The muckraking mags delight in out-scooping mainstream media, and their staffs smile knowingly when their stories are picked up, often without attribution. Their writers, despite corporate media’s dominance, snare more than their share of prizes and awards. And surely Bell and Ronnie Dugger, The Observer’s founding editor, appreciate that the organizations they brought to life remain long on passion, energy, and insight, if occasionally short on cash. Most striking is that each speaks to a devoted readership about the importance of placetheir place. The Observer boasts it publishes “Sharp Reporting from the Strangest State in the Union”; the News’ masthead may be more staid”For people who care about the west” but its circulatory ambition is bold. It would be bolder still if it included Texas in its mix. It doesn’t, noting its coverage ranges “from the Northern Rockies to the desert Southwest, from the Great Plains to the West Coast,” thereby airbrushing the Lone Star State out of the region it played a fundamental role in inventing. Savvy 19th-century Americans did not make the same mistake: They knew the West was defined by its environmental boundaries, not its political borders. So argued John Wesley Powell, head of the U.S. Geological Survey: His West began at the 100th meridian, which splits Texas roughly in half. Why this longitudinal line? Because it approximates the break between the wet and dry portions of the nation. \(If you want to get technical, it marks the 20-inch isohyet: To the east, more than 20 inches of precipitation falls annually; to This demarcation is not rigid, as there are years when Austin and San Antoniowhich lie east of the dry zonesuffer crippling droughts. Yet as Powell observed in Report on the Lands of the Arid Region of the United States underscore this sun-baked fact: Water determines the region’s economics, settlement, and politics. That’s what makes the west, The West. Powell’s vision gave me the organizing idea for a set of companion volumes that highlight the High Country News’ aggressive investigations into how this precious resource is managedor not. Water in the 21stCentury West is structured thematically, tracing the impact of such issues as climate change, indigenous water rights, groundwater pollution, dams and endangered species and urban water pressures. Watersheds are the focus of the second volume, River Basins in the American West, which probes controversies swirling around the Columbia and Missouri, the Colorado and Rio Grande. These rivers may follow differing WWW.TEXASOBSERVER.ORG High Country Thirst by