You would enjoy this month's Audubon magazine - that is, assuming a reader of a Utah environmental column cares about nature. The cover and a major article are of special interest.
The cover, a magnificent photograph that spreads across both the front and back covers of the magazine, shows a long stretch of Capitol Reef National Park.The reef is mostly lit up by a break in the dark cloud cover, the sandstone glowing buff and reddish, the junipers in the foreground in sharp relief.
The panorama photo is by Rod Millar of the Utah Energy Office. Millar's stunning nature pictures have been featured in the Deseret News, and he has shown his work in art galleries. The magazine cover is a fine display for the work of this talented artist.
An unexpected bonus when I bought the magazine was the lengthy, well-illustrated essay by T.H. Watkins about the Escalante Canyon country of southern Utah.
Brant Calkin, the director of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, appears in the article, and SUWA's efforts to protect the desert are highlighted.
* * *
A film about the Penan people of Borneo, whose rain forest is being destroyed, will be shown next week as a fund-raiser for the Utah Wilderness Association.
The film, "Tong Tana: A Journey to the Hearth of Borneo," will be at Cinema in Your Face!, 45 W. 300 South, March 22. For two screenings, 5:20 and 9 p.m., the proceeds will benefit the UWA.
According to a spokesman for the group, half of Borneo's rain forest has been mowed down, and if nothing stops the process, the rest will disappear in 10 years. The few thousand Penans are the island's last nomadic people, and their way of life will perish with the forest.
"The Penans have survived for millennia by hunting, gathering and trading with neighboring people," he added. "Their own lives reflect the dichotomies of an ancient society undergoing change.
"While they still live and hunt in traditional ways, Western clothing and jewelry are also prized. Unlike some isolated societies, the Penans have had access to metal implements for centuries through trade.
"The film is visually stunning as it portrays the beauty and wildness of this part of the Earth."
* * *
SUWA officers say they are dismayed about the "abysmal public notice process" of the Utah Division of State Lands. The organization has strongly objected to the recent sale of state property in Cottonwood Canyon in southern Utah, in a region considered for wilderness designation.
In a letter to division director Richard Mitchell, issues coordinator Ken A. Rait charged, "The public was completely locked out of the entire process. The division failed to inform the public about the Record of Decision.
"It is our suggestion that state land management planning be extricated from the `back room' and brought into the full light of public scrutiny."
* * *
A fellow reporter at the Deseret News, Jerry Spangler - who covers southern Utah issues and sometimes has strayed off his trail and into the environment - writes that Garfield County ranchers are packing guns and recording the license numbers of vehicles parked in the back country.
Supposedly afraid that environmentalists might attack their cows, Escalante residents "organized a neighborhood watch to keep an eye on environmentalists who have moved to town but have no visible means of support," Spangler wrote. They hark to the killing of 21 cattle in the Escalante drainage a year ago.
Shortly afterward, I interviewed the rancher whose cows and calves were shot, Arthur Lyman of Boulder, Garfield County.
I asked if he thought environmentalists were guilty. "Not necessarily. It's very hard to pinpoint, and I don't want to point the fingers at any environmental group," he said.
"I think it could possibly be somebody who has done that in hopes that we'd make that assumption, pointing the finger at an environmental group."
Assault is defined as putting a person in fear of bodily harm - it is not the same as battery, which involves physical injury. If you were threatened by an armed man, that would be assault. It is a crime.
Anyone who is intimidated by gun-toting vigilantes, or fears a conspiracy may have been hatched to thwart his legal rights, or simply is hesitant about exercising his freedom to visit the public land, should consult a lawyer. A suit charging violations of civil rights may be appropriate.