Our Mission

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.


What we do

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 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, making it an essential resource for those who care about this region.

Our online archives are deep and go from the first issue in 1970 to today.

The 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.” The website attracts over 160,000 visitors each month.

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 what other journalists do. 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. 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 its 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 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.


Syndication

High Country News syndicates its work, and 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 and wildlife biologist, purchases Camping News Weekly.

1970: The weekly is renamed High Country News and begins to focus exclusively on environmental issues out of 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 would cease publication. "We have done our best. It was not good enough." Readers step up to preempt the closure and mail in donations and encouraging notes begging the team not to quit.

1974: The publication is taken over by staff writers Bruce Hamilton and Joan Nice Hamilton.

Late 70s: A car accident kills an HCN staffer and injures three others, putting the publication into financial struggle. Once again, readers donate enough (over $32,000) to keep it going.

1983: Ed and Betsy Marston are hired to run the publication, which moves from Wyoming to Paonia, Colorado. 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 Writers on the Range.

2003: Managing editor Paul Larmer officially becomes HCN’s new publisher after some time as interim. HCN runs its 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 journalism and environmental awards, including:

  • 2014 Awards for Reporting on the Environment in the Kevin Carmody Award for Outstanding In-depth Reporting for “The Tree Coroners” story by Cally Carswell. 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."
  • 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.
  • 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 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.”
  • 2009 Mental Health America national journalism award for Ray Ring's "My Crazy Brother."
  • 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.
  • The 2005 Society of Environmental Journalist's outstanding explanatory journalism third place award given to Ray Ring for environmental politics: new angles.
  • The 2004 Society of Environmental Journalist's outstanding beat reporting third place award given to Ray Ring for
  • The 2003 Society of Environmental Journalist's outstanding beat reporting third place award given to Ray Ring for  "Wolf at the Door" and other stories.
    Judges' comments: 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.
  • The 1986 George Polk Award for environmental reporting.