Over the next century or so, humanity will face a staggering number of small choices, few of them alike, between accomplishing some goal (building a highway to a hospital) and protecting some part of nature (one population of a beetle). Not many will involve anything so dramatic as a certain extinction; most will weigh a tiny bit of harm to a few species against a tiny bit of benefit to a few people….Yet summed together these Lilliputian choices will represent a fateful decision about how much of the natural world accompanies us on our journey to the future. We may wish to fly over whole continents and make grand claims about global extinction, but we will not truly encompass our predicament until we touch down on individual points in the landscape, the places where butterflies bask and people change their lives in myriad ways as they try to save them.

–Charles Mann and Mark Plummer, Noah’s Choice: The Future of Endangered Species

The Karner blue butterfly is the size of a quarter and lives for a week. It rarely flies as far as a mile from home. Its finicky larvae only eat one thing–the leaves of the wild lupine, which grows in parklike savannas with sandy soil and scattered trees. The Karner blue has no natural defenses and no fear of people. As Northeastern Illinois University biologist Ron Panzer says, “It’ll land on your shoe.”

The butterfly used to live in a crescent-shaped area from New England to Minnesota and nowhere else in the world. It’s named for its tribe (the blues, with 32 species in North America) and for Karner, a railroad whistle-stop that used to be just west of Albany, New York. There, for a few weeeks every summer, on a 1,200-acre sand patch from which early settlers had cleared the trees, tens of thousands of Karner blues swarmed in shimmering blue clouds above the wildflowers. Vladimir Nabokov, the great expatriate Russian novelist and semiprofessional lepidopterist, gave the Karner blue its taxonomic description and scientific name (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) in 1944. In his autobiography, Speak, Memory, Nabokov compared the little butterfly to his literary works: “On a celebrated pine barren near Albany, N.Y., dwell, and will dwell, in generations more numerous than editions, the butterflies I have described as new.”

Sorry Vlad, Karner is now in Albany.

The pine barren has been covered with houses, stores, state office buildings, a college campus, and the New York State Thruway. The main remnant of its huge butterfly population lives in a fenced-off three-and-a-half-acre patch of sand in the parking lot of a shopping mall.

A similar if less dramatic transformation extirpated the Karner blue from Illinois. But 45 minutes southeast of the Loop the third-largest population in the world–estimated between 5,000 and 10,000–is doing well in the friendly confines of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Nature Conservancy Karner blue expert Dale Schweitzer wrote in 1994 that only in the dunes had he seen Karner blues “in pristine habitats (prairie like openings on or at the base of steep slopes), as opposed to the usual roadsides, powerlines, and paths.”

It’s hard to be complacent about the little guys: a seemingly secure population in southern Ontario crashed from than -900 in 1986 to zero in 1990. (“There are very few remnant populations today that appear to be as viable now as this doomed one did in 1984 and again in 1986,” writes Schweitzer.) The last remnant of the New England Karner blues numbered between 2,000 and 3,000 in 1983. At last count there were just 14 butterflies, in Concord, New Hampshire.

Told this quickly, the Karner blue story sounds I like one more human rape of pristine nature–bulldozer meets Garden of Eden. It’s not quite that simple. The bulldozer part is right, but the Karner ner blue couldn’t have lived in the Garden of Eden. It would have been too shady.

These butterflies thrive on disturbance, within reason. They need their environment shaken up every so often, so that trees and shrubs don’t shade out the lupines their larvae eat. Burning is best, but mowing or logging will do in a pinch. Leaving the butterfly alone won’t save it–a lesson even professionals have had to learn the hard way. Until 1986, when a survey showed otherwise, Michigan wildlife experts believed Karner blues were “dirt common” in the state, simply because they lived on government lands protected from development.

“The ‘balance of nature’ was in vogue for a time in scientific ecology. But really it’s the ‘flux of nature’ that’s the case,” reflects animal ecologist Ralph Grundel, sitting in his office at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Striking color photos of Karner blues resting, flying, and copulating adorn the hallway outside. “Is a drought once a decade totally unexpected? No. Is the fire cycle an aberrant event? No. The Karner blue is a fairly early successional species. You don’t find it on the beach. You don’t find it on the marram-grass dunes, you don’t find it in the cottonwoods or in the mature forests, but somewhere in between”–a living reminder that disturbance is natural too.

Karner blues as we know them adapt to the flux of nature by existing in what ecologists call “metapopulations”–a mysterious-sounding word for separate but connected groups. If one population is burned out and all the butterflies killed, it can be reestablished by butterflies flying in from nearby populations. No one population is central or permanent. Any one of them could wink out and be restarted, as long as enough populations remain within range of one another–a half mile to three miles at most–and aren’t separated by interstate highways or primeval forests.

This butterfly is vulnerable without being hypersensitive. The largest remaining population of Karner blues on earth now lives happily in mowed strips between the runways of the Saratoga County airport in upstate New York. In Portage, Indiana, a population apparently lived for decades in a former construction zone beside a hazardous-waste landfill. Those Karner blues have since been “translocated” to a nearby site, courtesy of Midwest Steel, a division of National Steel. Their story has become a favorite of those who hope to protect endangered species without bringing the rest of American society to a standstill.

A corporate predecessor of Midwest Steel got involved in the flux of nature back in 1929, when it bought 750 acres of Lake Michigan shoreline in northern Porter County, Indiana. Midwest’s property, along with adjacent purchases by Bethlehem Steel and Northern Indiana Public Service Company, occupied the central dunes–five miles of spectacular sand hills and beaches between the towns of Ogden Dunes and Dune Acres.

Neither steel company built anything on its land during the Depression and World War II. But they did try to persuade state and federal authorities to pay for a deep-water port on the lake there. The jockeying gave time and hope to those Hoosiers and Chicagoans who long before the birth of the contemporary environmental movement and longer before Karner blues became an issue–were fighting to preserve the dunes in their undeveloped state. The central dunes were the heart of their -crusade, and the heart of the national park officially proposed to Congress by Illinois senator Paul Douglas in 1958.

In their 1983 Duel for the Dune, Land Use Conflict on the Shores of Lake Michigan, Kay Franklin and Norma Schaeffer describe one battle. In the late 1950 the town of Ogden Dunes, led by patent attorney and Save the Dunes Coucil member Ed Osann, tried to make an end run around the corporations. Ogden Dunes adopted a town annexation plan that allowed it to zone unincorporated land around it, including the steel companies’ property. The town didn’t actually annex the central dunes, but it was able to zone them for single-family housing instead of steel making.

Unfortunately for the dunes and their Karner blue habitat, the steel companies’ response was quick and decisive, demonstrating what Franklin and Schaeffer call “the absolute power of private property owners” at that time. Porter County, which until then had seen no need to plan or zone its unincorporated areas, promptly moved to supersede Ogden Dunes’ zoning with a heavy-industry designation. Then in 1959 Midwest Steel, according to Franklin and Schaeffer, “assisted in forming the new city of Portage. This new municipality’s carefully drawn boundaries included all of Midwest’s property and most of Bethehem’s,” and virtually surrounded Ogden Dunes. Portage quickly chose to zone the central dunes for heavy industry as well.

With government at all levels in their pocket, the developers had won. In 1960 Midwest Steel built a $10 million steel-finishing plant on its land; the plant treats steel with hydrochloric acid to remove surface imperfections and galvanizes it with tin, chrome, or zinc to keep it from corroding. In 1961, in what Senator Douglas called a “brutal and antisocial act,” Bethlehem sold its dunes to Northwestern University for landfill for the Evanston lakefront campus, then built its mill on the flattened remains. Today the industrial area bisects the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, which was established in 1966.

But land-use conflicts in northwest Indiana are never really over–they just change from. Midwest Steel’s plant was only a few years old when the Save the Dunes Council objected to its disposing of steel-finishing wastes in large unlined pits, aka “lagoons,” dug in the sand near Lake Michigan. (The wastes contain chromium and other heavy metals.) When Congress eventually passed the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act in 1984, the company had to stop the practice. According to current Save the Dunes Council director Tom Anderson, “They could either close the lagoons in place and monitor them for 30 years to see if the waste was migrating from them, or ‘clean-close’ them and put their contents in a lower-risk but more expensive hazardous-waste landfill. To their credit they decided to do the second.” On November 7, 1988, Midwest Steel received a permit from the EPA to build the new landfill, complete with a liner and leachate-collection system.

As work began on the project, the company made an embarrassing and fateful discovery. Its fine new state-of-the-art landfill was too small. “The winds off Lake Michigan had blown fine sand, like snow,” into the old lagoons, according to Kevin Doyle, Midwest Steel’s manager of environmental affairs and energy. The sand in them was ten feet deep, which had deceived company probers into thinking that they’d reached the bottom of the lagoons before they really had. So four years later Midwest Steel had to go back and ask the EPA for permission to build a second landfill for the rest of the lagoon sludge, using an area next to its first landfill where construction trailers had sat in 1960 when the plant was built.

What a difference four years made. In 1988 few people realized the Karner blue was in trouble. But in the summer of 1992 it was about to be listed as an endangered species. (It was officially endangered on December 14, 1992.) All federal agencies had to treat it as if it were already listed. No government action–including dispensing permits to industry–could be taken that would harm the butterfly. That’s how accidents shape history-. If Midwest Steel had known the true amount of sludge in its lagoons back in 1988 and built a bigger landfill in the first place, the Karner blues probably would never have become an issue. And if Midwest had wanted to build a parking lot there instead it could have just done it without any government involvement. In either case that little group of blue butterflies would have been wiped out with no one the wiser.

But in 1992, recalls Doyle, “One day my EPA permit writer said, ‘We need to check for lupines and Karner blue butterflies,’ which I had ever heard of. In August we went out with people from the state Department of Natural Resources and EPA. There were lots of lupine plants”-more than 1,500 as it turned out, “And we saw one butterfly.” That lonely lepidopteran set off a bureaucratic and scientific chain reaction. EPA’s Chicago-based regional endangered species coordinator, Carol Alexander, was one of those who got involved. It was kind of a challenge to think about talking to a steel mill I I about a butterfly he size of a nickel,” he says. “Thank goodness it wasn’t a beetle or an ant!”

Strictly speaking, the Karner blue is not an endangered species. It’s an endangered subspecies, one of four belonging to the widespread and nonendangered species Lycaeides melissa. Nabokov sorted the species and subspecies out in the 1940s by painstakingly comparing their wing markings and reproductive organs. (The nomenclature remains unsettled enough that James Scott, in his Butterflies of North America: A Natural History and Field Guide, uses a different genus name, Plebejus.) Nabokov later changed his mind and decided the Karner blue should be a separate species, but he never got around to formally revising the taxonomy.

To some extent the decision between species and subspecies is a judgment call, and an academic judgment call at that. The Endangered Species Act protects endangered subspecies, even endangered populations. And if we protect endangered species to save the variability and adaptability of the natural world, it’s clear that Lycaeides melissa samuelis differs significantly from its fellow melissas–it’s the only one that depends exclusively on lupines, for instance–and deserves protection for the same reason. If it were to go extinct we would lose a lot of the genetic variability of Lycaeides melissa and a lot of its geographic range.

Few conservationists agonize over where the Karner blue fits in taxonomic charts, because they see saving it from extinction as not just an end in itself but a means. “The real question is habitat conservation,” says animal ecologist Ralph Grundel. “The Endangered Species Act is a handle.” Few environmentalists want to create a series of outdoor zoos–one for the Karner blue, one for the grizzly, one for the bald eagle, one for the American burying beetle, and so on. The Karner blue’s Oak-savanna habitat is at least as endangered as the butterfly is–by one estimate, only about 0.02 percent of the presettlement savanna remains.

“Endangered species act as surrogates,” says Grundel. “It’s very possible that we could find a more endangered insect than the Karner blue in this savanna, one that we don’t know anything about.” Restoring and managing whole savannas is an efficient way to preserve such species, given our ignorance and our lack of time and money. And even though the Karner blue is among the most studied butterflies, ignorance is on Grundel’s mind a lot. “We get a lot of questions from the public. People assume that we know all the animals out there and whether their populations are increasing or declining. Not true. Our knowledge is maybe the preface to the encyclopedia.”

“EPA said we needed a biological opinion on whether the landfill would affect the Karner blue population;’ recalls Midwest Steel’s Kevin Doyle. “They said that if we waited for them to do it, it would take x number of years.” The company didn’t t have that kind of time, so Doyle hired biologists to survey the area. “They found a lot of lupines, but they couldn’t say whether that on, butterfly We had seen was just a transient or not.” Their biological opinion? The second landfill might affect the Karner blue. Or it might not. “There was no data.”

Midwest Steel had to make a decision–“and believe me, it was agonized over,” says Doyle. The company could

*try to fight the matter in court, on the grounds that the butterfly hadn’t been listed as endangered species when it was spotted and therefore the steel company wasn’t obligated to protect it; or

*avoid the issue by dropping the permit request and shipping its extra waste to another landfill somewhere else; or

*cooperate with the government to save the butterflies it had unknowingly harbored for so many years.

Litigation would have been expensive, in dollars and in public relations. Sending the company’s waste ste to someone else’s landfill I would have cost at least $500,000 a month. Worse, it would also have exposed Midwest to unpredictable, potentially enormous liability under the federal Superfund law: should the off-site landfill later leak and its proprietor go bankrupt and its other customers vanish, the government could sue the steel company for the entire cost of the cleanup even if it had sent only one load there.

“We made a conscious decision not to be negative,” says Doyle, who grew up in nearby Gary. “This project went smoother because of that. Our philosophy at Midwest Steel not to be antagonistic.”

“In not beginning it was rough,” says the EPA’s Carol Alexander. “We all”–meaning EPA, Midwest Steel, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which administers the Endangered Species Act–have different missions. But once we decided on a common goal it made things work.”

Doyle and Alexander are of course right that any project goes smoother once everyone agrees to cooperate. But the happy talk begs the question: Why did they agree? Cooperation doesn’t happen automatically. It didn’t happen at all back in the 1950s, when Ogden Dunes and the Save the Dunes Council tried to stop Midwest Steel from building on its land.

What happened in the intervening 35 years? Persistent pressure from enviromentalists made a real dent in the “absolute power of private property.” Going to court had become an expensive option for Midwest Steel because there’s now a tough Endangered Species Act, Going to court was a bad PR option because even Indiana is full of environmentalists, organized and unorganized, who prefer butterflies to galvanized steel. Shipping waste to another landfill was costly because environmentalists had lobbied successfully for waste disposal laws. Even the arguably unjust “deep pockets” provision of Superfund played a role.

The Karner blue butterflies at Midwest Steel got a chance to survive because decades of environmental pressure–in the form of laws, institutions, and watchdog groups–had altered the balance of power. Only after that power shift did cooperation come to seem obvious.

In the end EPA allowed Midwest Steel to build its second landfill, on condition that the company restore Karner blue habitat elsewhere. That meant digging up 1,613 lupines he where the landfill would go, and finding a decent place to transplant them to. (The Fish and Wildlife Service also strongly recommended that Midwest Steel buy another 51.5 acres of prime butterfly habitat and donate it to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore; the company has done so.)

Transplanting lupines would in effect transplant the butterflies: from August to April Karner blues exist only as tiny white eggs attached to lupine stems. But transplanting lupines isn’t simple. Transplanted plants usually die because they depend on a deep, finely divided root network to draw water from sandy soils. Doyle and consulting biologist Jim Bess took the advice of a landscape contractor from Mishawaka, Indiana, who recommended using tree spades–machines normally used to transplant good-size trees roots and all. The biggest one takes a seven-foot-diameter bite and goes five feet deep.

Before transplanting the lupines Midwest Steel had to make their destination ready. The new site–45 acres of company property near the National Lakeshore boundary–already had some lupines growing on it. But it hadn’t been burned for years, and it was thick with oak saplings. Left undisturbed, it was turning from a fine butterfly terfly savanna into a lupine-free forest. Crews under the supervision of Doyle and Bess cut down 35,000 trees in the name of preservation, marking each one on a clipboard and saving a few in each area. (The felled trees were chipped and donated to the National Lakeshore for trails.) They also planted 7,900 lupine seeds and more than 3,000 greenhouse-grown plants.

Two years later the woodland is invitingly open and the transplanted lupine “plugs”–marked with colored ribbons–appear to be flourishing. A record 65 percent of the transplants survived. “Originally the Fish and Wildlife Service told us no more than 30 percent would survive,” says Bess. He regularly fields calls from other would-be butterfly-habitat restorers and plans to publish the project results. The established lupines in the area demonstrated their tolerance of disturbances Midwest Steel crews laid a chain-link fence on the sand to make a roadway for trucks, Hummers, and chippers to go in and out of the restoration area. Says Doyle, “We had lupines springing up through that fence everywhere.”

“They ended up with a decent number of butterflies,” says Ralph Grundel, though for security reasons nobody will say exactly how many. (For the same reasons, the company and the biologists discourage journalists from publishing maps of where Karner blue populations flourish.) Doyle says Midwest Steel will eventually donate its 45-acre restoration area to the National Lakeshore, a development those who remember the land’s history can only regard with rueful irony.

Midwest Steel’s Karner blues got a dramatic ride in a tree spade. Elsewhere the butterfly situation is different. The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, for instance, has the most Karner blues anywhere between Wisconsin and New York. When the species was listed as endangered on December 14, 1992, park managers didn’t face a dilemma like Midwest Steel’s. But they did have to confront the fact that, in Ralph Grundel’s words, “Habitat management for the Karner involves killing them sometimes.” Accordingly, they rescheduled the park’s burns, and now burn smaller areas at a time to make sure no population is wiped out. Since there are only so many days in the year when wind and weather are right for controlled burning, protecting the Karner blue makes this part of the park operation a less efficient than it it used to be.

Grundel remembers preparing the burning plan his first summer at the park, when he was fresh from a teaching job in northern California. “The Fish and Wildlife Service said our plan would be OK as long as we censused the population after each burn and stopped and consulted with them if the butterfly’s number ever fell below a certain level.

“And then they asked, ‘Is that an acceptable level?'” (In other words: You’re not going to kill them all by mistake, are you?) Grundel knew he couldn’t be absolutely sure. I could think of 20 reasons why it was, and 20 reasons why it wasn’t. That was a defining moment in a way. I realized this was not like an academic paper. Here we are really responsible.”

No one in Illinois has had to worry about such questions for more than a century. No Karner blues, no problem, right? But three butterfly hunters reportedly found and collected (i.e.’ killed I’d) five Karner blues in Lake County in 1992. The dubious ethics of collecting an endangered species stirred debate and made the front page of the Tribune, but the presence of the species here at all astonished entomologists. Northeastern Illinois University’s Ron Panzer headed up a thorough search for the butterfly during the next two summers. His team found some lupine and much potential potentially promising habitat in and around Illinois Beach State Park, but not one Karner blue.

Had the five butterflies blown in from Indiana or Wisconsin? Were they the last of a hidden Illinois population? Had someone found them elsewhere and released them here? Panzer calls the whole episode “mysterious.” The EPA’s Carol Alexander says lots of people responded to the news reports by calling to ask about the exact location of the find–an interest she interprets as less than innocent.

There is a collector’s market in legal butterflies. Is there a parallel black market in Karner blues? Panzer doubts it. For one thing, the price isn’t high enough to outweigh the penalties that could be incurred under the Endangered Species Act, though he adds, “If they were worth $500 a hit we’d have no hope.” Besides, “The people we might be fearful of tend to be interested in obtaining rare specimens, but 51 percent of the reward is obtaining it themselves.”

Panzer does want to see a viable Karner blue metapopulation restored to northern Illinois. The state Department of Natural Resources has an EPA grant to do lupine restoration (now in progress), and natural heritage biologist Brad Semel hopes that butterflies might be brought in three or four years from now. “You have to do things right, but we’re good at that in Illinois,” says Panzer, referring to a reputation that dates back at least to the 1970s, when the state conducted its pioneering Natural Areas Inventory.

Nevertheless, reintroducing Karner blues here apparently won’t be a priority for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Catherine Carnes heads the agency’s 17-member team in charge of developing the official “recovery plan’ for the Karner blue, and their priority is maintaining and expanding Karner blue populations where they survive. “We decided enough butterflies exist in already occupied sites that we could work with those sites,” she says, “we didn’t need to reintroduce it into parts of its range where it’s gone, like Illinois and Ohio.” Still, their recovery plan will only be advisory; if Illinois chooses to attempt a restoration the feds won’t stop it.

The butterfly rescue has cost Midwest Steel a little under $2 million–less than the cost of just four months’ off-site waste hauling. “It’s not going to bankrupt the company, obviously,” says Kevin Doyle. Midwest has a capital budget this year of $20-25 million. Its parent company, National Steel, the fourth-largest U.S. steel producer, had a net income of $96 million in the first nine months of 1995

Under the circumstances the rescue was a pretty good deal. If circumstances had been different–if endangered-species protection weren’t a national priority, for instance–that $2 million would have been spent on other things. When pressed, -Doyle acknowledges that it could have been spent to put in cooling towers or pay a couple years of his environmental budget. “By adding capacity or quality to our production facility, it would have generated more

money for the company and for everybody else.” This “opportunity cost,” as economists call it, doesn’t make Doyle regret the Endangered Species Act or his company’s decision. “We regard it as an investment in the community.” But just because Midwest Steel was willing and able to pay the price this time doesn’t mean the butterflies are free. The intelligent part of the argument over reauthorizing the Endangered Species Act has to do with how many such investments we can afford.

The Karner blue rescue became a success story in part because Midwest Steel could afford to spend $2 million on one midsize population of one subspecies. Most private landowners aren’t so well fixed. What happens when the Karner blue (or another endangered species) depends on them for its habitat? Will they want to save or improve a potential savanna if, along with the Karner blue, they might attract drastic federal regulations under the Endangered Species Act? Not likely.

One alternative is to try to save species and habitats on publicly owned land such as the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. But there’s not likely to be enough money to buy all the land needed to fully restore a savanna landscape or guarantee a self-sustaining metapopulation of Karner blues.

Another is to rewrite the Endangered Species Act, adjusting the incentives so that private landowners would be rewarded rather than penalized for helping butterflies. But such an effort could easily run afoul of lawmakers–mostly Republicans these days–who know little and care less about the natural world.

A third approach is to try to create more sensible incentives within the law as it now exists. The Indiana office of the Nature Conservancy is considering one way of doing just that in the Gary-Hammond area, west of Indiana Dunes and east of the state line where wildlands mingle with railroad tracks, homes, businesses, and highways. “If the Karner blue is going to be saved in this area,” says John Shuey, the office’s director of science and conservation biology, “it’s not going to be by the little bit of land owned by the Nature Conservancy.” And the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore metapopulation is too far away to replenish it.

According to Shuey, vacant land in the area isn’t likely to be developed anytime soon–among other other things, it’s divided into small parcels that are hard get to. And many of its various owners don’t want to sell or close off their options, In the meantime, how can they be persuaded to improve their savannas and potential savannas and give the Karner blue another chance? The proposed solution–popular with the Fish and Wildlife Service but not yet officially endorsed by the Nature Conservancy–is a “safe harbor” agreement, in essence a deal between each individual landowner and the government, though the Nature Conservancy (itself a private e landowner in the area) would take the lead.

Suppose you owned five acres with 10 oak trees, 50 lupine plants, and 12 Karner blues. That’s your “baseline.” Under the current Endangered Species Act, you can’t kill the butterflies or significantly diminish their habitat. And if you diligently mow and plant and double your Karner blue population, you will then have an obligation not to kill or harass that many more butterflies. Your land would be that much more irrevocably committed to being a nature preserve forever.

But if you first signed a safe-harbor agreement you would retain the option to change your mind. If you later decided to build a house, or sell a corner lot for a gas station, you could drop out of the safe-harbor program (after first giving notice) and be free to change your land back to (but not below) its baseline condition.

“It sounds kind of flaky,” says Shuey, “but it would enhance the population. There are several parcels in the area that are not going to be developed and are being managed as natural areas. But they they’re also not going to be [legally] protected. A safe-harbor program might encourage the owners to do more.” In the past year in North Carolina the first safe-harbor program in the country has led to 19 agreements protecting 19,000 acres of the habitat of the red-cockaded woodpecker, according to Ralph Costa, the species’ recovery coordinator. “It’s a win-win situation–a safe harbor for the landowners and the woodpecker alike.”

“We’re just examining whether it would be the right thing to do from the Nature Conservancy perspective,” Shuey said in early May. Would the conservancy’s members see it as a victory or a sellout? As Ralph Grundel learned three summers ago, it’s not an academic question anymore.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/James A. Bess, Cynthia Howe.