RETRO ZEPHYR…30…20…10 years ago.


Zephyr Cover October 1989

These were our fourth and fifth issues of the then-monthly Zephyr and our first election issue. I interviewed both mayoral candidates for the November issue, Bill Meador and the incumbent, Tom Stocks. Even then, the issue of tourism and the future of Moab was on our minds…

First…the Mayor…

Mayor Stocks Interview

And the challenger, the former superintendent of schools, Bill Meador…

Meader Interview

The debate over an expanded Canyonlands National Park came up at our regular interviews with the Grand County Commissioners. All three, Republican Dave Knutson, and Democrats Merv Lawton and Ferne Mullen, expressed skepticism at a proposal by former Interior Secretary Stewart Udall to dramatically expand the boundaries…

Secretary Udall's Proposal

Many of the ads reflected the election mood…

Riverside Ad
Ad Utah Politicians We'd Like to Feed

And continuing our “Great Faces” series, we figured it was time to pay tribute to our pal Bego…

Great Faces of Moab Bego Gerhart

TWENTY YEARS AGO…October/November 1999

Cover Oct Nov 1999 Katie Lee

By 1999, expressing our concerns about Industrial Tourism in Moab had become a Zephyr theme. Here’s part of a Stiles editorial rant from October 1999…that’s TWENTY YEARS AGO…

The Nutshell by Jim Stiles

The City Elections…

As the election season gears up for three City Council seats, I find myself wanting to ask the candidates just one question:

Are any of you willing to take a stand against a THIRD tram in Moab?”

Councilmen and councilwomen come and go in this little burg, and as I look back at the last ten years, I cannot think of a single action (as opposed to in-action) that any council member initiated which dramatically changed the future and fortunes of Moab. We have, for the most part, been shaped by outside market forces, the shifting demographics of a nation fleeing urban areas in droves, and a benign governing body that seems content to just ride with the bumps. The city administration seems to worry itself silly over some of the little stuff, while it dozes the rest of the time.

So will this election make a difference? Could it?

Recently I saw a movie called “Bulworth.” Warren Beatty plays the part of Senator Jay Billington Bulworth, a man who has lost his soul. Even worse, Bulworth knows it. He realizes that he has sold himself so completely to the corrupt political process, that there is nothing left of him to respect. In utter despair, he decides to have himself assassinated.

But once he’s cut the deal for his own demise, he finds the experience so purifying and liberating that as he continues to campaign while waiting to be shot, he begins to tell the truth. To everyone. And the response, to his surprise, is overwhelmingly supportive.

Now…I’m not suggesting that the city council candidates plan their own assassination (or start delivering their speeches in rap), but we are all dying for some honesty and plain straight talk. No ambiguities please! No more cliches!

If you’re not going to do anything to slow down Moab’s cancerous tourist growth, then tell us! But also tell us why you support the construction of another two, or three, or four motels in Moab. And tell us how these additions will make our lives here better.

Would you support an ordinance that restricted large retail businesses like Wal-Mart from moving to Moab? Tell us. Either way, but tell us what you think. And explain yourself.

Tell us what you really think of the way the city is being run these days. What did you think of the Vern Erb story in the Zephyr last issue? Did you think it was a ridiculous performance by the city, or do you think Vern was way out of line? But TELL US.

What do you think of the Moab Police Department? Do you think it’s an efficiently-run department? Did you think the Moab P.D. did everything it could to resolve the conflict with John Dinsmore in November 1997, before an officer shot him dead with a 12 gauge shotgun?

And yeah…would you REALLY oppose a third tram in Moab?

I think a great many of us are sick of equivocation and inaction. Let us know where you stand by taking a stand. We cannot make an intelligent choice if we don’t know what your position is.

And good luck…to all of us.

and, some of our advertisers shared my mood…

Honest Ozzie's Ad Moab: Stick a fork in's DONE

It was also the time for Bill Clinton jokes…

Grand Tire Ad featuring Bill Clinton

and then there was just the usual dose of Zephyr humor….

Ad Buck's Grill House

And…twenty years ago this month, we received this message from new reader, Ned Mudd. 

Letter to the Editor Ned Mudd

TEN YEARS AGO…October/November 2009

Cover The Desert's Solar Future October/November 2009

This was our fourth “on-line only” digital version of The Zephyr, and things were not going well. I possessed the internet technological skills of a sedimentary rock and our only way of posting The Zephyr was as a PDF. As this issue headed to posting, I hired a new webmaster who promised me he could streamline the website, make it much more “user friendly,” and increase our site visitation substantially.

As it turned out, the new webmaster had no idea what he was doing at all. For a few insane days, it even appeared that we might never post anything, and that, in fact, The Zephyr was stone dead in its own tracks.

To complicate matters even more, I was out of town, in Spearfish, South Dakota, reluctantly participating in a panel discussion about Edward Abbey. The event’s keynote speaker was Charles Bowden, and had I not been half-crazy with worry about the status of my own publication, I might have enjoyed myself.

Coming to my aid, albeit long distance, was the friend, even then and now, that I’d never met—Ned Mudd. My cell phone was also on the blink and Mudd volunteered to stay on my new webmaster, hoping he could somehow encourage the guy into fixing the website with Ned’s own unique brand of Southern charm and persuasion. But finally Mudd called me, almost in tears and said, “Stiles…this guy’s got NO CLUE as to what he’s doing….You need to start over.” And eventually I did.

Coming to the rescue was Ricky Richardson, my neighbor up the street in Monticello. Ricky contains multitudes. He’s brilliant. He can solve almost any computer problem on one hand; on the other he can rebuild a Ford Mustang engine in his driveway. We’re not sure he’s really from this star system. Ricky got the Zephyr up and running and for the next year, kept us alive each issue, using an optical reader to translate my PDFs and make them more accessible. Still we needed something different. 

Flash back to the Spearfish Fiasco. At that event, sitting at the registration desk, was a beautiful young writer who was there to make her own presentation, but was helping out with registration. Her name was Tonya Morton. Under the most stressful of circumstances, this is where I met my future wife.

Less than a year after the Oct/Nov 2009 issue posted, Tonya proposed we revamp the website, using the WordPress format we use today. She and Ricky did all the things that needed to be done, that I was so hopeless at doing. Our site visitation jumped by a 1000% and  a decade later, we average 20,000 unique visits a month.

Here are some of the articles from the issue that almost never happened…

How “Alternative Energy” is about to TRANSFORM the American West
By Kevin Emmerich and Laura Cunningham

EXCERPT: “Seems like 20 or 30 years ago, folks were concerned about protecting their local places, that specific mountain, the river nearby, those particular named canyons near where they lived, and the wilderness they hiked in. Today the shift among environmentalists has highlighted the global, the abstract, even the corporate model of ‘saving the Earth.’ We are often lectured by this new hybrid of industrial green energy environmentalists about how our attempts to slow down these renewable energy mega-developments will expedite the warming of the planet and the extinction of the polar bear. We find it ludicrous that these same people would support actions that could lead to the extinction of species like the desert tortoise in an attempt to save the polar bear. Who told them that they were justified in choosing which species get to survive and which do not? Our position is that the destruction of desert ecosystems, which have been shown to be excellent resources for storing vast quantities of soil carbon, will only speed up the potential habitat loss for the polar bear. Climate is, after all, a global system…” READ MORE.

(from a recording – Dr. H.L. Greene,University of Nebraska,1908)

EXCERPT: ” Trading for horses is about as much fun as getting shot in the foot; but, it’s one of life’s necessary evils. By the time I was done with my business up at the fort, I had bought me two decent animals and one extra blanket to boot. The best horse was a gelding, the other a young bay. My plan was to use the horses to tote water up from the river so as to irrigate a swath of land. Without water, farming is a lame-brained profession. Some folks might say a wind-driven well woulda been a better idea, but building a windmill is hard work and I ain’t got the constitution for it. I was set on utilizing brute labor and that was the end of it.

But life has a way of swatting its tail at you during unsuspecting moments and that’s what happened as me and my new horses crossed the Llano River on our way back towards the farm. We was midstream in low water when a goddamned bullet lopped off part of the gelding’s ear and that started a ruckus the likes of which most folks have never imagined. That beast reared up more out of fear than pain and started kicking up a fuss, which wadn’t a wrong idea, considering that where there’s one bullet, more are likely to follow…”  READ MORE

Other highlights included Martin Murie’s Losing Solitude…

…and Doug Meyer’s Review of the ‘RENEWABLE DEAL’…



cartoon wyss

Noted philanthropist Hansjorg Wyss has donated $125 million to create “The Hansjorg Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.” According to news reports the institute “will attempt to discover the engineering principles nature uses to build living things, then use that information to create devices and technologies to meet medical needs.”

Does this sound a bit like “The Rise of the Machines?” Wyss said, “Little did I dream when I began my career in engineering that we would reach a point where engineers and biologists would be using nature’s templates to create solutions to our medical and environmental challenges.”     

Maybe he can bio-engineer endangered species and even entire eco-systems that can withstand the ravages of climate change and ultimately even bio-engineer eco-tourists to visit the bio-engineered landscapes he saved, just before humans made themselves extinct!

The mind boggles at the possibilities!

Mr. Wyss is a major contributor to mainstream environmental organizations and is a board member of The Wilderness Society, the Grand Canyon Institute and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. 

Until Next Time!…

Jim Stiles is Founder and Co-Publisher of the Canyon Country Zephyr.

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