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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. Its mission is to inform and inspire people - through in-depth journalism - to act on behalf of the West's diverse natural and human communities.

About us

High Country News publishes an award-winning newsmagazine, 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 the Northern Rockies to the desert Southwest, from the Great Plains to the West Coast, High Country News’ coverage spans 11 Western states and is the leading source for regional environmental news, analysis and commentary, making it an essential resource for those who care about this region.

Founded in 1970 by Tom Bell, a Wyoming rancher and environmentalist, High Country News is now based in Paonia, Colorado. High Country News, the magazine, has 23,000 remarkable subscribers, including policymakers, educators, public land managers, environmental professionals, outdoor enthusiasts and thousands of other “people who care about the West.” The Web site attracts over 90,000 visitors each month. High Country News’ independent research and unique voice are supported largely by its devoted readership through subscriptions and contributions to the Research Fund.  Grant support, advertising and syndication sales make up the rest.

High Country News articles have been featured in The New York Times, Newsweek, Utne Reader, The Christian Science Monitor, The Navajo Times, The Boston Globe, Rolling Stone and USA Today. The Los Angeles Times describes High Country News as "the most influential environmental journal in the Mountain West."

High Country News’ commitment to environmental stewardship, diversity and social responsibility gives an added resonance to this unique Western voice, through journalism that goes well beyond daily newspaper coverage. High Country News strives 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, resulting in stories that reflect the reality of a society with many different perspectives. 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.

High Country News has received numerous journalism and environmental awards, listed below.

Help keep us 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 most recent IRS 990.

If you have any questions regarding subscriptions please contact our friendly in-house circulation staff or give them a call at 1-800-905-1155.

Journalism Awards

Listed in order, from most recent to oldest.

  • Five awards in the Society for Professional Journalists’ 2014 Top of the Rockies Contest, for Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming publications. In the “Print: Circulation of 30,000 to 75,000” category, we won three first-place awards for General Reporting (“Groundwater Legacy on the Rocks” by correspondent Sarah Keller, and “The Tree Coroners” and “Farming on the Fringe” by contributing editor Cally Carswell). Senior editor Jonathan Thompson’s posts took first place in the Blog category, and former editor-in-chief Greg Hanscom’s “Red Rock Resolution” got third place in General Reporting: Politics.
  • The prestigious 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."
  • The 2013 Science in Society Award from the National Association of Science Writers (Science Reporting with a Local or Regional Focus category) for "The Color of Bunny," a story about how snowshoe hares are adapting to climate change.
  • Three awards in the 2013 Top of the Rockies Contest, hosted by the Society for Professional Journalists, for publications from Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. In Classification C, circulation between 10,001-29,999, we won first place in Political Reporting for "Red State Rising: How the Mormon GOP runs Utah with a Collectivist Touch," first place in Agriculture Reporting for "Water Warrior: A Colorado Newspaperman Fights for His Valley's Water," and third place in Business Reporting for "The Hardest Climb: Can the Outdoor Gear Industry Wield its Power for Conservation?"
  • The 2012 Science in Society Award from the National Association of Science Writers (Science Reporting with a Local or Regional Focus category) for "Perilous Passages," a package of three feature stories on animal migration.

    This package also won the prestigious 2012 Knight-Risser Prize for Western Environmental Journalism.

  • The 2012 Society of Environmental Journalists Awards, Outstanding Beat Reporting, Small Market: first place for Matthew Frank's coverage including "Montana's stream access law stays strong."

  • Finalist for the 2012 Livingston Awards for Young Journalists, for Stephanie Paige Ogburn's story "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 in the Society of Environmental Journalists 2010-2011 Awards for Reporting on the Environment -- third place in the "Kevin Carmody Award for Outstanding In-depth Reporting, Small Market".

  • 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."

  • The 2010 Kavli Science Journalism Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (small newspaper category), for Hillary Rosner's "One Tough Sucker."
  • The 2010 Science in Society Award from the National Association of Science Writers  (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.
  • The 2010 Hillman Prize for Magazine Journalism for Rebecca Clarren's "The Dark Side of Dairies."
  • The 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 (monthly/bimonthly category) for Debra Utacia Krol's "Cultural Blight."
  • The 2009 Society of Environmental Journalists Awards, Outstanding Small Market Reporting, Print category: second place for Florence Williams' "On Cancer's Trail,” third place for J. Madeleine Nash's story "Back to the Future.”
  • The 2008 Hillman Prize for Magazine Journalism 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's "The Silence of the Bees."
  • The 2008 Media Award from the American Institute of Biological Sciences for Michelle Nijhuis' "Beetle Warfare" and "Bonfire of the Superweeds".
  • Second place in the 2008 Society of Environmental Journalists Awards, 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.
  • The 2006 Utne Reader Independent Press Award for Best Local/Regional Coverage.
  • The 2006 George Polk Award for Political Reporting for Ray Ring’s “Taking Liberties,”  which also won an American Planning Association Award (2007).
  • The 2006 James V. Risser Prize for Western Environmental Journalism for Matt Jenkins’ “Squeezing Water from a Stone.”
  • The 2006 Science Journalism Award from the American Association for Advancement of Science for Michelle Nijhuis’ “The Ghosts of Yosemite,”  “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.

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