About Us

Our Mission

High Country News is a 501(c)3 nonprofit media organization that covers the important issues and stories that define the American West. Our mission is to inform and inspire people – through in-depth journalism – to act on behalf of the West's diverse natural and human communities.


What we do

High Country News publishes an award-winning magazine, a popular website and a weekly op-ed column service, along with special reports and books. Through in-depth reporting, High Country News covers the American West's public lands, water, natural resources, grazing, wilderness, wildlife, logging, politics, communities, growth and other issues now changing the face of the West. From Alaska and the Northern Rockies to the desert Southwest, from the Great Plains to the West Coast, High Country News’ coverage spans 12 Western states and is the leading source for regional environmental news, analysis and commentary -- an essential resource for those who care about this region.

Our hard-copy and online magazine has more than 25,000 subscribers, including policymakers, educators, public land managers, environmental professionals, outdoor enthusiasts and thousands of other “people who care about the West.” Our website attracts over 160,000 visitors each month, and our online archives are unusually deep, from the first issue in 1970 to today.

High Country News’ commitment to environmental stewardship, diversity and social responsibility gives an added resonance to our unique Western voice, through journalism that goes well beyond what other journalists do. We strive to inspire and engage readers to expand their own perspectives and accept the challenge of new stories and new ideas. As we increasingly embrace diversity in our organization, our journalistic work does a better job of representing a society that is home to many viewpoints. Only by doing so can we fulfill our mission and ensure that High Country News remains a relevant, engaging publication that is essential to all who care about the West.


We are a nonprofit

High Country News’ independent research and unique voice are supported largely by our devoted readership through subscriptions and contributions to the Research Fund. Grant support, advertising and syndication sales make up the rest.

Help us keep going

In order to continue we require support from our readers. Please consider subscribing to the magazine and making a donation to the Research Fund. We offer a number of subscription options, including a free 30-day trial, which offers you complete access to the website for a limited time. Feel free to view our basic financial information in our most recent IRS 990 form.

If you have any questions regarding subscriptions please contact our friendly in-house circulation staff or call 800-905-1155.


Syndication

We syndicate our High Country News work, and our articles have been featured in The New York TimesNewsweekUtne ReaderThe Christian Science MonitorThe Navajo TimesThe Boston GlobeRolling Stone, USA Today and many more publications. The Los Angeles Times describes High Country News as "the most influential environmental journal in the Mountain West."

Find out more about syndicating High Country News stories.


Our history

Find more detailed information on our history.

August 1969: Tom Bell, a Wyoming rancher, wildlife biologist and World War II combat veteran, purchases Camping News Weekly.

1970: Bell renames the publication High Country News and begins to focus on environmental issues, based in a Lander, Wyoming, headquarters.

1971: Bell establishes the publication as a nonprofit because subscriptions and advertising alone weren't supporting it.

1973: Bell announces that HCN will cease publication due to a lack of revenue. "We have done our best. It was not good enough." Readers step up to preempt the closure, mailing in donations and notes encouraging the team not to quit.

1974: Bell steps back and the publication is taken over by staff writers Bruce Hamilton and Joan Nice Hamilton.

Late '70s: A car accident kills HCN news editor Justas Bavarskis and injures three other staffers, putting the publication into another financial crisis. Once again, readers donate enough to keep it going (over $32,000 this time).

1983: The High Country News board of directors hires Ed and Betsy Marston to run the publication, and they move HCN from Wyoming to Paonia, a small town in rural western Colorado. Over the years, they expand the scope of coverage and increase circulation from 3,000 in 1984 to 20,000 in 2001.

2002: Ed Marston steps down after 19 years as publisher. Betsy Marston continues to work at HCN as editor of our Writers on the Range op-ed syndicate.

2003: Managing editor Paul Larmer officially becomes HCN’s new publisher after some time as interim. HCN runs our first full-color cover, while the rest of the magazine remains in black and white.

2005: HCN becomes a full-color magazine throughout.

2014: Circulation continues to grow, which is currently at an all-time high of 25,100 print subscribers, approximately 1,430 digital subscribers and nearly 59,000 subscribers to our weekly newsletter.

High Country News has received numerous national journalism awards, including:

  • The 2014 Society of Environmental Journalists Awards, second place in the Outstanding In-depth Reporting, Small Market category, for "The Tree Coroners" by Cally Carswell. The SEJ judges said, “As we are forced to deal with the many challenges of a warming and changing climate, Cally Carswell’s well-written, educational and entertaining story created a narrative that most certainly heightened public awareness about an important topic that is often overlooked when discussing the planet’s growing carbon footprint: the vital role trees play … This story highlighted the challenges of this important work.”
  • The 2013 Utne Media Award for Environmental Coverage. "HCN stood out for its consistent reports on important stories we're not reading anywhere else," wrote the Utne judges. "From the effects of Twilight-inspired tourism on the Quileute Nation to half-built subdivisions at the foot of the Grand Tetons, HCN shines a spotlight on our culture's relationship to the wild. And while it might be easy to vilify, say, a developer in the Tetons or the Twilight tourists, HCN's reporters seek nuance instead."
  • A 2013 Science in Society Award, from the National Association of Science Writers, in the Science Reporting with a Local or Regional Focus category, for Hillary Rosner's "The Color of Bunny," a story about how snowshoe hares are adapting to climate change.
  • A 2012 Science in Society Award, from the National Association of Science Writers, in the Science Reporting with a Local or Regional Focus category, for "Perilous Passagea," a package of stories on animal migration. This package also won the 2012 Knight-Risser Prize for Western Environmental Journalism.
  • The 2012 Society of Environmental Journalists Awards, first place in the Outstanding Beat Reporting, Small Market category, for Matthew Frank's coverage including "Montana's stream access law stays strong."
  • A finalist for the 2012 Livingston Awards for Young Journalists, for Stephanie Paige Ogburn's "Cattlemen struggle against giant meatpackers and economic squeezes."
  • A 2011 Special Citation from the Knight-Risser Prize for Western Environmental Journalism for David Wolman's "Accidental Wilderness." This story also won a Society of Environmental Journalists Award (third place in the Outstanding In-depth Reporting, Small Market category).
  • The 2011 Excellence in Journalism Awards, from the Native American Journalists Association, Best Feature Monthly, Division 1 category, for Terri Hansen's "Celebrating Shades of Green."
  • A 2010 Special Citation from the Knight-Risser Prize for Western Environmental Journalism for Jonathan Thompson's "Wind Resistance."
  • A 2010 Kavli Science Journalism Award, from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in the Small Newspaper category, for Hillary Rosner's "One Tough Sucker."
  • A 2010 Science in Society Award, from the National Association of Science Writers, in the Science Reporting with a Local or Regional Focus category, for J. Madeleine Nash's "Bring in the Cows."
  • The 2010 Utne Reader Independent Press Award for Best Environmental Coverage.
  • A 2010 Hillman Prize for Magazine Journalism with a social-justice perspective, for Rebecca Clarren's "The Dark Side of Dairies."
  • A 2010 First Person Narrative award, from the American Society of Journalists and Authors, for Michelle Nijhuis' essay "Township 13 South, Range 92 West, Section 35."
  • The Native American Journalists Association Best Environmental Story of 2010, in the Monthly/bimonthly category, for Debra Utacia Krol's "Cultural Blight."
  • The 2009 Society of Environmental Journalists Awards, second place in the Outstanding Small Market Reporting, Print category, for Florence Williams' "On Cancer's Trail," and third place for J. Madeleine Nash's "Back to the Future."
  • A 2009 Mental Health America national journalism award for Ray Ring's "My Crazy Brother."
  • A 2008 Hillman Prize for Magazine Journalism with a social-justice perspective, for Ray Ring’s "Disposable Workers of the Oil and Gas Fields."
  • A 2008 Special Citation from the Knight-Risser Prize for Western Environmental Journalism for Hannah Nordhaus' "The Silence of the Bees."
  • A 2008 Media Award from the American Institute of Biological Sciences, for Michelle Nijhuis' "Beetle Warfare" and "Bonfire of the Superweeds."
  • The 2008 Society of Environmental Journalists Awards, second place in the Outstanding Small Market Reporting, Print category, for Peter Friederici’s "Facing the Yuck Factor," which also won a 2007 Award of Excellence in the Best of Newspaper Design competition of the Society for News Design.
  • A 2006 Utne Reader Independent Press Award for Best Local/Regional Coverage.
  • A 2006 George Polk Award for Political Reporting for Ray Ring’s "Taking Liberties,"  which also won an American Planning Association Award.
  • The 2006 James V. Risser Prize for Western Environmental Journalism for Matt Jenkins’ "Squeezing Water from a Stone."
  • A 2006 Science Journalism Award, from the American Association for Advancement of Science for Michelle Nijhuis’ series: "The Ghosts of Yosemite," and "Save Our Snow,"  and "Dust and Snow."  The series also won the 2006 Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism from the American Geophysical Union.
  • The 2005 Society of Environmental Journalists Awards, third place in the Outstanding Explanatory Journalism category, for Ray Ring's series on new angles in environmental politics, including "Where Were the Environmentalists When Libby Needed Them Most? The Story of an Ailing Town in Northwestern Montana Calls into Question the Health of the Environmental Movement."
  • The 2004 Society of Environmental Journalists Awards, third place in the Outstanding Beat Reporting category, for Ray Ring's series of stories including "A losing battle (an analysis of wildfire policy)," and  "The West's biggest bully: Environmentalists in Montana's Flathead County make quiet progress against a 5,000-watt loudmouth," and "The big story written small: How most daily newspapers fall short covering environmental and growth issues." SEJ judges said Ring's stories provided "compelling and provocative coverage of Western natural-resource conflicts ... sweeping in scope, befitting the West's broad canvas, and meticulous in detail, a mark of fine reporting. On topics ranging from wildfires to an anti-environmental shock jock, Ring presents fascinating insights into the region's unique blend of natural wonders and human foibles."
  • The 2003 Society of Environmental Journalists Awards, third place in the Outstanding Beat Reporting category, for Ray Ring's series of stories including "Wolf at the Door." SEJ judges said, "Equally at ease writing about wolves or killer bees, about the fervor of snowmobilers or the foibles of Arizona governors, Ray Ring reported scenes so vividly that readers felt taken along for some fascinating rides. A chronicler this skillful didn't have to moralize; he just let the subjects speak for themselves. His stories for High Country News had depth and texture rarely matched by the efforts of publications with much greater resources."
  • A 1986 George Polk Award for Environmental Reporting.