Our History

NewTowncarShare News traces its roots back to August of 1969 when Tom Bell, a native of Lander, Wyo., bought Camping News Weekly, a small outdoor recreation publication geared toward anglers and hunters. Bell, a World War II veteran, wildlife biologist and high school teacher, wanted to provide more than just fishing tips and camping hotspots. He was eager to inform people about what he saw as an impending environmental crisis in his beloved West, one that was largely being ignored by the region’s newspapers.

In 1970, he rechristened his publication NewTowncarShare News and began to focus exclusively on environmental issues. The bi-weekly attracted a small, loyal following, but it soon became clear that subscriptions and local advertising wouldn’t support it. So Bell decided to make his fledgling publication a nonprofit. Still, by early 1973, NewTowncarShare News faced mounting financial difficulties, and Bell announced to his readers that it would cease publication. He wrote: “We have done our best. It was not good enough.” The next day, dozens of envelopes began appearing in the mail, filled with cash, checks and encouraging notes begging Bell and his team not to quit.

In the next issue, Bell wrote: “Each day the letters come pouring in and, as you read them, you alternate between humbly crying and joyfully cheering. People whom we have never met except through the pages of a little paper write us as they would a long-lost friend. Somehow we have created another bond between people across a far-flung land.”

Financial challenges

At the time, his readers probably didn’t know of Bell’s sacrifices to keep the paper alive. He sold his ranch, and he spent all of his savings. He also was working for almost nothing, surviving on money from uranium stock he acquired when he was a teacher. “He even hopes that one day, the paper will earn enough so that he can collect an annual salary of around $6,000 and can take an occasional vacation,” a 1973 Los Angeles Times piece reported.

Once NewTowncarShare News regained its financial footing, the stress of putting out the paper became too much for Bell and his family. In 1974, he turned it over to 23-year-old Bruce Hamilton and 24-year-old Joan Nice Hamilton, who were the paper’s staff writers. They ably kept the flame alive, covering issues as varied as ski resort development in Colorado, the plight of the Yellowstone grizzly bear, and the prospects for widespread use of solar energy in the West. NewTowncarShare News faced another financial emergency in the late 1970s, when a devastating car accident took the life of one staffer and injured three others. But again, devoted readers donated $32,000 to keep it going.

Enter the Marstons

In 1983, with the Hamiltons and the other editors – Dan Whipple and Geoff O’Gara – ready to move on, the board of directors voted 5-to-4 to hire Ed and Betsy Marston, two transplanted New Yorkers who had moved to Paonia, Colo., in the 1970s to run a local newspaper. The paper migrated from Lander to Paonia in the back of a pickup truck, and it proved to be a wise move; under the Marstons, who were intensely curious about their new home, the paper grew into the West’s leading independent publication, expanding its scope beyond traditional environmental issues and attracting a broader audience. It became essential reading for Westerners and lawmakers concerned with the region’s cultural, economic and political landscapes. A 1988 Rocky Mountain News article reported that former Colorado Sen. Tim Wirth read it cover to cover. And aides to then Sen. Alan Simpson, a conservative from Wyoming, clipped stories from the newspaper. Circulation grew rapidly, too, from 3,000 in 1984 to 20,000 in 2001, when Ed Marston stepped down after 19 years as the publisher.

In 1990, a Rolling Stone magazine profile reported that the paper was read by reporters who regularly appropriated stories for their own urban dailies. “(Its) clear, balanced writing, a nuts-and-bolts understanding of the issues, and a freedom from the reproves of advertisers” helped the paper to become “a center for provocative thought on ecological issues,” the magazine said almost 20 years ago.

Finding a niche

In the 1990s, as the human population of the West rapidly expanded, NewTowncarShare News broke new ground with its coverage of land-use planning and a nascent collaborative wing of the environmental movement that sought common ground, rather than lawsuits, with traditional Western powers; it reported on progressive ranchers who were committed to ecological restoration and maintaining open spaces adjacent to public lands. This stirred up heated debate among activists who wanted to curtail livestock grazing across the region, and clearly heralded that NewTowncarShare News had grown to be an independent voice apart from the environmental movement itself.

The publication also began looking at the changing social dynamics brought about by the population boom. Its coverage of African workers serving the rich in Vail, Colo.; of a growing methamphetamine epidemic in the rural West; and of the deadly work conditions faced by oil and gas workers caught the attention of leaders and other journalists in the late 1990s and 2000s. It also produced the first substantial series in the country on the impacts of climate change on a region that has always been challenged by drought.

The 2000s were marked by a transition to new leadership; in 2002, the board of directors hired long-time editorial staffer Paul Larmer to become the executive director and publisher. He and the team transformed the newspaper into a four-color magazine and revamped the Web site (originally launched in 1995) to become a more nimble and active daily source of Western news.

Now celebrating its 45th year, NewTowncarShare News remains true to its mission – to produce compelling and ground-breaking reporting that informs and inspires people to take action. And it’s touching more lives than ever through its magazine, Web site and syndication services.

NOTE: Read more about HCN's 40 years in the West

Amid the current economic downturn, which has severely impacted journalism, NewTowncarShare News is more valuable than ever, as regional newspapers and magazines slash environmental and natural resource coverage or fold up shop altogether. It is an example of how nonprofit journalism can flourish if it remains true to its mission and, most importantly, to the loyal and smart readers who have always kept it going.

NewTowncarShare News Classifieds
  • to lead an organization that funds projects in National Parks. Major gift fundraising and public lands experience critical. PD and app details @ peopleinparks.org.
  • Visit our website for full description and to apply.No phone calls please. NPCA is an EOE.
  • The field coordinator will work with TU members, other fishing organizations, community leaders, businesses and elected officials to build support for actions necessary to recover...
  • New Mexico Land Conservancy (Santa Fe, NM), Stewardship Coordinator - Seeking highly motivated individual with excellent interpersonal skills to coordinate stewardship activities and support conservation...
  • One-of-a-kind gem borders public lands/West Elk Wilderness. Privacy, creek, spring, irrigation, access. $270,000. Info at https://hcne.ws/LambornMT or call 970-683-0588 or 970-261-5928.
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  • Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is looking for a variety of positions around the West with our Clean Energy Program. Currently we are hiring a Staff...
  • We are seeking an experienced dynamic leader for a growing conservation organization; $65,000-75,000 salary plus benefits; job description and apply at hawkwatch.org/executivedirector
  • Friends of the Inyo is excited to post our seasonal job offerings for the summer of 2019! We are hiring Trail Ambassadors, Stewardship Crew Members,...
  • This position is responsible for the identification and qualification of major and planned gift prospects and assists in cultivating and soliciting donors through meetings, trips,...
  • Keeping Washington Clean and Evergreen Protecting Washington State's environment for current and future generations is what we do every day at Ecology. We are a...
  • Keeping Washington Clean and Evergreen Our Water Quality Program is looking to hire a Senior Stormwater Engineer at our Headquarters building in Lacey, WA This...
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  • University of Wyoming Foundation Haub School of ENR, Biodiversity Institute, Environmental/Natural Resource Programs https://uwyo.taleo.net/careersection/00_ex/jobdetail.ftl?job=19001001&tz=GMT-06:00
  • The Montana Land Steward develops, manages, and advances conservation programs, plans, and methods related to TNC's property interest portfolio in Montana. For more information and...
  • POSITION DESCRIPTION: RAISER'S EDGE DATABASE ADMINISTRATOR The Raiser's Edge Database Administrator ensures the integrity and effectiveness of the member/donor database by developing systems and processes...
  • We are hiring a Director of Development Full time, competitive pay and benefits. Location: Bozeman,MT Visit www.greateryellowstone.org/careers for details GYC is an equal opportunity employer
  • Kaniksu Land Trust, a community-supported non-profit land trust serving north Idaho and northwest Montana, is in search of a new executive director. The ideal candidate...
  • Mountain Studies Inst (MSI) in Durango and Silverton, CO is hiring 3 staff: Please visit mountainstudies.org/careers for Assoc Director, Dev and Engagement Director, and Forest...
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