From the Editor: A vast territory

From the Editor: A vast territory

0713 EditorLetter
OR-4, glimpsed in transit in Eastern Oregon. 
// Photo by Jennifer Margulis

When Ashland writer Jennifer Margulis decided to tackle this month’s cover story on wolf tourism in Eastern Oregon, she never imagined she’d actually see a wolf. After all, tour operators warn clients the chances of seeing one of the state’s 50 or so Canis lupi are about one in a thousand. But there it was: lurking in an alpine meadow, skinnier than expected and much more fearful.

“As soon as he saw us, he tucked his tail between his legs and slinked away,” Margulis said. “I was scared of him. But he was just as scared — or more — of me.”

The wolf assignment yielded other surprises. The subject of wolves in ranch-dominated Eastern Oregon is a contentious one. But Margulis, a seasoned investigative reporter, discovered those with inflammatory opinions are the vocal minority.

“I think some of the news reports have really polarized the issue,” she says. “But what I noticed is that most ranchers have a thoughtful stance about the wolves, and most environmentalists have great sympathy toward and a desire to work with ranchers who lose livestock.”

While Margulis was stalking wolves, OB research editor Brandon Sawyer was tracking another elusive species: Oregon’s private companies. Compiling a list of the top 150 privately held companies in the state, an annual ranking that appears in this issue, is a bit like pulling teeth. After all, there’s a reason private companies are private, not public.

But Sawyer’s original research paid off, showing the states’ private companies mirror the national economy at large, boosting revenue while reducing employment.

This month we also report on the state of an industry that is trying to become a little less obscure. That would be nanotechnology, the engineering of very, very small particles that could change the game in virtually every sector, from food to health care to computer chips.

Nanotech, wolves and the Private 150. Our feature lineup this issue showcases what this magazine does best: provide a deeply reported,
big-tent look at Oregon business. We think you’ll agree: Ours is an expansive landscape.

Linda Baker