This past year, Writers on the Range, an independent opinion service based in western Colorado, sent out 52 weekly opinion columns. They were provided free of charge to more than 200 subscribing editors of publications large and small, each of whom republished dozens of the columns.
Writers on the Range has a simple two-part mission. One of its aims is to engage Westerners in thinking and talking to each other about issues important to the region. The other aim is to entice readers to look forward to these fact-based opinions, with the hope that they’ll then want to keep their local journalism outlet alive and flourishing.
This year, the focus of writers ran the gamut from A to W. Abortion bans, wrote Idaho-based Crista Worthy, caused women’s health to suffer severely, while wolves, wrote Story Warren, were unfairly blamed for killing livestock in Colorado.
Several columns covered the depleted Colorado River, while longtime journalist Rocky Barker wrote that at last, four Klamath River dams would be demolished in the Northwest to help struggling salmon populations.
Greg McNamee made an excellent case for paying wildland firefighters what they deserved for their hazardous work, and Pepper Trail, the renowned Oregon biologist, wrote several opinions, including one about his own efforts to save wildlife from fatal encounters with vehicles.