[Kim Richey] [Links]
Fischer's efforts to reintroduce wolves
to Yellowstone result in landmark
Hank Fischer's interest in environmental issues caught fire about the time
the Cuyahoga River went up in smoke.
"I had been interested in the outdoors since I was a kid growing up
near the Cuyahoga River," says Fischer, BGS '71, a 1967 graduate of
Stow High School near Akron. "You couldn't help but be a little interested
in the environment when you grew up near one of the most polluted rivers
in the country."
Fischer continued a family tradition by attending Ohio University - both
his parents and his two brothers and sister also graduated from OU - but
it wasn't until he made the long journey from Athens to his new home of
Missoula, Mont., in the early 1970s that he began to plant the seeds for
a career as a leading wildlife conservationist and environmentalist.
Fischer's book, Wolf Wars: The Remarkable Inside Story of the Restoration
of Wolves to Yellowstone, chronicles his successful struggle to help
reintroduce wolves to Yellowstone National Park. The book, published by
Falcon Press last May, has received favorable reviews from more than 40
newspapers and led to Fischer's appearance on NBC-TV's "Nightly News."
Fischer developed his love for writing while earning a bachelor's degree
in general studies. It was while he was earning a master's in environmental
studies at the University of Montana that he became intrigued by the wolf
issue. In 1977, he was hired as the northern Rockies representative for
the wildlife conservation group Defenders of Wildlife, a job he still holds.
The U.S. Army and the U.S. Park Service eradicated wolves from Yellowstone
in the late 1800s because the public believed wolves posed a danger to not
only livestock, but also to wildlife. Ranchers and powerful livestock industry
officials were outspokenly opposed when Fischer and other activists launched
the effort to bring the wolves back to Yellowstone in the early 1980s.
Fischer was named to the congressionally appointed Wolf Management Committee.
His testimony before Congress, in court and at public hearings played a
pivotal role in the fight.
"Yellowstone isn't whole without wolves," Fischer says. "It
has the densest population of big game species found anywhere in North America.
Without the predators this area evolved with, the system doesn't function
on all cylinders. It's like a car without a sparkplug."
The livestock industry, backed by political heavyweights like Wyoming legislators
Dick Cheney and Alan Simpson, "used all of their considerable influence
to try and stop wolf restoration," Fischer says.
Fischer, who claims to have been a professional conservationist longer than
anyone in the region, launched a massive wolf education campaign aimed at
winning over ranchers, citizens and politicians opposed to the idea. "One
local newspaper called me the least popular man in Montana," Fischer
One of Fischer's most effective strategies was compromising to create the
Wolf Compensation Fund to compensate ranchers for all verifiable livestock
losses caused by wolves. Since the fund was created in 1987, 23 ranchers
have been paid more than $19,000.
Fischer says it took $7 million and nearly 20 years to outmaneuver political
in 1995 14 wolves captured in Alberta, Canada, were released into Yellowstone
National Park. In January, 15 more wolves were reintroduced. Fischer said
the wolves in Yellowstone have caused few problems.
"Wolves have become the featured species in Yellowstone. People want
to see them. And their presence has had a positive economic impact on towns
around the park. There's benefit in this for almost everyone," Fisher
Today, Fischer is a leader of a new initiative to restore grizzly bears
to the large wilderness areas of Western Montana and Central Idaho. As with
the wolves, there is stiff resistance to the plan. But Fischer and his allies
are better prepared for this battle.
Many believe historians will use the restoration of wolves to Yellowstone
as a marking place in the annals of wildlife conservation.
"This reintroduction of the wolves is an im- portant statement about
how American attitudes toward predators have changed," Fischer said.
Richey finds a musical home
in country circles
Photo: Pamela Springsteen
By Caroline Miller
The next time you're driving down the road and flipping through the radio
dial looking for country music, chances are you'll hear Ohio University
alumna Kim Richey, BSRS '80.
Richey's self-titled debut album, released last May by Mercury Records,
has received wide acclaim. The Los Angeles Times called Richey "the
female newcomer to watch in 1995." Billboard magazine called her "one
of Nashville's most distinctive new songwriting voices." And USA
Today praised the album soon after it was released, writing that it
"places her substantial voice and straightforward lyrics in a luxurious
groove of big, rich guitar sounds."
Richey's music is country with a twinge of rock - "a slight Southern
California country-rock feel," says USA Today. She appeals to
the die-hard country music lover and the rock enthusiast who occasionally
picks up a country album.
Richey grew up in rural Ohio and Dayton. She developed a love of music at
an early age, collect-ing records at the expense of her aunt, who own-ed
a music shop. Janis Joplin's "Me and Bobby McGee" and Lovin' Spoonful's
"Do You Believe In Magic" were among her childhood favorites.
Richey learned to play guitar in high school, but never appeared on stage
with regularity until she met songwriter Bill Lloyd and started a band while
studying at Western Kentucky University. Two years later, the band broke
up and Richey headed to Ohio University to finish her degree. Lloyd is among
many musical comrades who appear on Richey's debut album.
"Since I was only at OU for two years, I didn't get involved in a lot
of campus activities or go to a lot of sporting events, but living in Athens
did influence my music," Richey said. "Friends introduced me to
different types of music and bands."
After graduation, Richey stuck around for a year in Athens, working as a
drug and alcohol counselor. Then she hit the road for several years, living
in Colorado, South America, Boston, Europe and Washington state, and working
in restaurants as a cook and bartender.
"I'd check out one place for awhile and then decide it was time to
find someplace new," Richey said.
During her nomadic years, Richey kept in touch with Lloyd, who was in Nashville
working as a songwriter. "Bill used to send me tapes of artists in
Nashville. When I heard Steve Earle's 'Guitar Town,' it knocked me over.
I said if this is the kind of stuff they're doing in Nashville, I've gotta
be there," Richey said.
Richey arrived in Nashville in the fall of 1988 to try her hand as singer/songwriter/guitarist.
After developing her own style of nontraditional country music - one with
a twist of folk and rock -Richey found her way onto the radio as a co-writer
for Randey Foster's "Nobody Wins," which eventually became a No.
1 hit on the country charts. She also sang backup on Trisha Yearwood's single
"XXXs - OOOs," and teamed up with Mary Chapin Carpenter on backup
for Pam Tillis' popular "Everytime You Walk In The Room."
Richey uses her new album to showcase her hard-driving voice. She co wrote
each of the 13 songs on the record, songs that tell stories of rejected
lovers and about "feeling good enough to love again."
Richey remembers the first time it sunk in that she was headed for success
in the music business. "About a year or so ago, I was going to a New
York radio station to promote my album. The station arranged to have a limo
pick me up and, while I was in the limo, my song (featured single 'Just
My Luck') came on," Richey said.
With success has come more hard work, longer hours and more stress. Richey
began a three-month nationwide club tour in February. "This tour, it's
so overwhelming," she says.
"I've been asked so many times, 'Where do you see yourself in the future?'
At this point, I just want to make it to Friday. "
Caroline Miller, BSJ '96, is a student writer in the Office of University
News Services and Periodicals.
Revised April 11, 1996
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