Feature stories

The oil boom hasn't busted, but it's straining at the seams
The oil boom hasn't busted, but it's straining at the seams
Oil patch communities and states are starting to feel the impacts of sliding prices.
Cities look to farms for help in Colorado River drought
Cities look to farms for help in Colorado River drought
West’s biggest water agencies finalize a major agreement to boost Lake Mead levels.
Have returning wolves really saved Yellowstone?
Have returning wolves really saved Yellowstone?
Researchers fear that some damage can’t be undone.
Browse High Country News feature stories
A grouse divided
A grouse divided
Will new federal protections rescue the Gunnison sage grouse?
Duwamish River to get $342 million more for cleanup
Duwamish River to get $342 million more for cleanup
The EPA's order aims to undo decades of industrial pollution to Seattle's only river.
The linchpin to a national supergrid
The linchpin to a national supergrid
Clovis, New Mexico, may link three grids and become a renewable energy hub.
What 4-H teaches 7 million kids about food
What 4-H teaches 7 million kids about food
A new book explores what the century-old organization looks like today.
Solace at the end of Homer Spit
Solace at the end of Homer Spit
When I quit my job and joined a pilgrimage of heartbroken dreamers staggering toward Alaska.
Wyoming grapples with how to fund wildlife conservation
Wyoming grapples with how to fund wildlife conservation
Hunters may lose influence as other groups are asked to increase their contributions.
Gunnison sage grouse gets divisive 'threatened' listing
Gunnison sage grouse gets divisive 'threatened' listing
The decision upsets enviros and industry alike.
A guide to the new Senate
A guide to the new Senate
What incoming Republican chairs might do for the West.
Mapping wolf dispersal
Mapping wolf dispersal
A Northern Rockies wolf was spotted at the Grand Canyon.
Will falling oil prices kill the shale revolution?
Will falling oil prices kill the shale revolution?
The current drilling boom is more sensitive to price fluctuations than its predecessors.
How the West fared in the midterms
How the West fared in the midterms
Summary: It's mighty red out there.
The Uintah Basin's tricky oil and gas ozone problem
The Uintah Basin's tricky oil and gas ozone problem
Can officials greenlight booming development and clean up the air at the same time?
Mission Ready for Climate Change
Mission Ready for Climate Change
Five things the West can learn from the military about climate adaptation.
Mapping threats on public land
Mapping threats on public land
Intimidation of federal officials is widespread across the West
Midterm races to watch
Midterm races to watch
Only a handful of seats are truly up for grabs, including two in the West, and they’re being fiercely contested.
In campaign ads, emotion trumps fact and guns buy votes
In campaign ads, emotion trumps fact and guns buy votes
What I learned from watching political ads on YouTube two weeks before the midterms.
Winners of the HCN reader photography contest
Winners of the HCN reader photography contest
Readers' and editors picks in people, landscape and wildlife.
Will Wyoming companies get higher fines for workplace deaths?
Will Wyoming companies get higher fines for workplace deaths?
When a worker died on the job, the company paid a $6,700 penalty, inciting new discussion on the issue.
Don’t drink the water
Don’t drink the water
Portland’s fluoridation battle shows how tricky it is to integrate science into debates that have as much to do with values as policy.
Watershed moment
Watershed moment
The U.S. and Canada prepare to renegotiate the 50-year-old Columbia River Treaty.
Can Hickenlooper get his middle-of-the-road magic back?
Can Hickenlooper get his middle-of-the-road magic back?
The Colorado governor has Democratic politicians calmed and fractivists pissed.
Teaching aliens to talk
Teaching aliens to talk
How global warming made me change my life.
How my Californian father adapted to Utah
How my Californian father adapted to Utah
He found solace in growing fruit trees, but never quite made the Beehive state his home.
Forgetting we live in the desert
Forgetting we live in the desert
Rafael de Grenade on tough landscapes, writing as inquiry and climate change.
A conversation with Chuck Bowden from 2002
A conversation with Chuck Bowden from 2002
The late writer discusses the 'cannibalism of society' and other ills.
On the hunt for fireflies in Utah
On the hunt for fireflies in Utah
Scientists find the flashing bugs after a 30-year search.
Shaken and stirred in California's recent earthquake
Shaken and stirred in California's recent earthquake
How seismic events can make drought impacts worse.
Did Obama's Interior hobble the Endangered Species Act?
Did Obama's Interior hobble the Endangered Species Act?
A new policy sets the law back a half-century, conservationists say.
Rural cops get militarized
Rural cops get militarized
Pentagon gives guns, armored vehicles and battlefield gear to rural Western counties.
Fear the falcon
Fear the falcon
A man and his raptors take on Washington's dump scavengers.
The prickly pear as California crop
The prickly pear as California crop
Can an overlooked succulent help salvage toxic soils?
Alaska's Uncertain Food Future
Alaska's Uncertain Food Future
Climate change in the Far North puts traditional food sources at risk.
What the West will feel like in 2100
What the West will feel like in 2100
Scenarios for how our cities will change with the climate.
The roads scholar
The roads scholar
An ecologist helps wildlife safely cross highways.
The death of backpacking?
The death of backpacking?
Younger people don’t seem interested in this outdoors tradition.
Reflecting on groundwater from the Owens Valley Watershed
Reflecting on groundwater from the Owens Valley Watershed
Growing up in the high desert, I learned water doesn't just fall from the sky.
When a parent dies, do we let the house fall?
When a parent dies, do we let the house fall?
Every generation must decide what to do with the lives that preceded theirs.
The Big Nasty
The Big Nasty
On garbage and tolerance in the wilderness.
Out in the backcountry
Out in the backcountry
A profile of a gay ranger in the National Park Service.
Learning Forestry 101 in the Cascades
Learning Forestry 101 in the Cascades
A novice logger helps thin the forest in Washington.
A long-submerged town becomes visible
A long-submerged town becomes visible
Water recedes under drought conditions and reveals a lost California community.
Video of epic mule deer migration
Video of epic mule deer migration
Mulies on the move in western Wyoming.
A Japanese fly-fishing art comes to life
A Japanese fly-fishing art comes to life
Centuries-old tenkara is becoming a hit on streams in the American West.
Backpacking with monster skeeters
Backpacking with monster skeeters
An Alaska encounter with the fiercest of the 176 mosquito species that roam the U.S.
Will the Colorado River reach the Gulf of California once more?
Will the Colorado River reach the Gulf of California once more?
Photographs of last month's historic water pulses.
Happy housewarming, Charlie Brown
Happy housewarming, Charlie Brown
A couple restores a Seattle home and honors the Austrian Jewish couple who once lived there.
Birthday of the burning boot
Birthday of the burning boot
Making peace with growing older, on a hike near Patagonia, Arizona.
Hippos spark management debate
Hippos spark management debate
Nation's most fearsome invasive species wreaks havoc on Western waterways.
The Sacramento-San Joaquin deltas of 1772 and today
The Sacramento-San Joaquin deltas of 1772 and today
Remembering explorers past of this California water source.
Wilderness therapy redefines itself
Wilderness therapy redefines itself
But the irresponsible caregivers and tragedies of the past prove hard to shake.
Two Angelenos debate the city's sustainability efforts
Two Angelenos debate the city's sustainability efforts
KCRW Radio conversation based on HCN essay "Brave New L.A."
How Vancouver, B.C. became North America's smart-growth leader
How Vancouver, B.C. became North America's smart-growth leader
It wasn't visionary city officials; it was a movement to save the city's ethnic Chinese neighborhoods in the '60s.
A (very small) room with a view
A (very small) room with a view
Microhousing catches on in Seattle and other Western cities.
Brave new L.A.
Brave new L.A.
Los Angeles is an unlikely model of urban sustainability for the West and the world.
Are Yellowstone grizzlies ready for delisting?
Are Yellowstone grizzlies ready for delisting?
A recent study of the bears’ diets has spurred a move toward ending endangered protections.
Butcher of Heartache on the Bering Sea
Butcher of Heartache on the Bering Sea
A former newspaper copyeditor finds his way onboard a fishing boat.
Tribes struggle to house their 'invisibly homeless' veterans
Tribes struggle to house their 'invisibly homeless' veterans
Red tape makes it difficult for veterans in Indian Country to access a key federal assistance program.
The fignificent fig man
The fignificent fig man
Lloyd Kreitzer’s journey as New Mexico’s premier fig grower.
Can more oil extraction cut CO2 emissions from power plants?
Can more oil extraction cut CO2 emissions from power plants?
Some environmentalists are getting behind enhanced oil recovery.
Failed secession movements litter the West
Failed secession movements litter the West
Will they ever succeed?
Kids will be kids
Kids will be kids
Photographer Rebecca Drobis looks for universal images of youth on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana.
Heart-Shaped River: Craig Childs finds his center in Canyonlands
Heart-Shaped River: Craig Childs finds his center in Canyonlands
Not all maps are made of paper. The best ones are spooled in memory.
What do you know?
What do you know?
Author Percival Everett defies categories and generalizations.
Josh Zaffos on the Front Range fracking wars
Josh Zaffos on the Front Range fracking wars
The debate over the drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing is heating up this fall, as several cities along Colorado’s Front Range prepare to vote on fracking bans or moratoriums.
Front Range drilldown
Front Range drilldown
In the fight over oil and gas regulation, local control gains ground.
The right-wing heiress who changed course in the desert
The right-wing heiress who changed course in the desert
Looking back on Bazy Tankersley: publisher, rancher and conservationist
Severe drought forces a moment of truth for the Klamath
Severe drought forces a moment of truth for the Klamath
Irrigation shutoffs in the river's upper basin may finally help move a historic water deal on the Oregon-California border.
What’s in the water in Woods Cross?
What’s in the water in Woods Cross?
A Salt Lake City suburb weighs environmental risk as it grapples with drinking water contamination
The Blue Window
The Blue Window
Journeying from redrock desert to an icy wasteland: an essay
Thank you, James Watt, for all you did for Greater Yellowstone
Thank you, James Watt, for all you did for Greater Yellowstone
An eccentric secretary of Interior remembered for his unlikely conservation legacy.
Pilgrim at Shit Creek
Pilgrim at Shit Creek
A mother comes to terms with her son's childhood in the urban environment
Alaska tribes attempt to block the controversial Pebble Mine
Alaska tribes attempt to block the controversial Pebble Mine
Some of the last surviving salmon-based cultures turn to the EPA to protect their communities.
Why do you live in a flood zone?
Why do you live in a flood zone?
How to empathize with people who experience devastating loss after fires and floods
Becoming pronghorn: an essay
Becoming pronghorn: an essay
Remembering wildlife biologist James Yoakum, who loved to study pronghorn
Helium rising in the West
Helium rising in the West
The region has become an important source of the technologically vital gas.
Hal Herring on the Rocky Mountain Front
Hal Herring on the Rocky Mountain Front
Hal Herring talks with KDNK's Nelson Harvey about looming energy development in his wild and sprawling backyard
The Rocky Mountain Front blues
The Rocky Mountain Front blues
A journalist reflects on energy development on his home turf.
The ATV culture includes loose regulations -- and kids' funerals
The ATV culture includes loose regulations -- and kids' funerals
Western kids have fun -- and die -- motoring off-road, thanks to loose ATV regulations, a libertarian spirit and fun-loving parents.
Oval Intention: an essay
Oval Intention: an essay
The original geodesic tent lives on.
Latino radio stations connect immigrant communities
Latino radio stations connect immigrant communities
Latino music stations -- even commercial ones -- increasingly resemble public service organizations.
Conservation goals in Jackson Hole collide with a need for worker housing
Conservation goals in Jackson Hole collide with a need for worker housing
In Wyoming's top resort town, the desire to protect the environment and the community's character kills big affordable housing projects.
Arctic ship logs help scientists reconstruct climatic history
Arctic ship logs help scientists reconstruct climatic history
Sailors' journals detailing the weather of voyages past could improve the accuracy of climate models' projections of the future.
Is the Violence Against Women Act a chance for tribes to reinforce their sovereignty?
Is the Violence Against Women Act a chance for tribes to reinforce their sovereignty?
A new provision lets tribes prosecute non-tribal members for violent crimes like rape for the first time.
Wildfire's silver lining
Wildfire's silver lining
Even the costliest blazes can boost local economies.
Ray Ring on Jackson's housing crisis
Ray Ring on Jackson's housing crisis
KDNK's Nelson Harvey talks with HCN Senior Editor Ray Ring about his recent cover story on the clash between conservation goals and the need for affordable housing in Jackson, Wyoming.
Made in the American West, consumed in China
Made in the American West, consumed in China
Chinese consumers craving status symbols increasing look to North American poachers
The power grid may determine whether we can kick our carbon habit
The power grid may determine whether we can kick our carbon habit
How the huge and fragile network of wires intertwined into our very existence may determine whether we can kick our carbon habit.
War Bird: An essay on robot hummingbirds
War Bird: An essay on robot hummingbirds
Robotic hummingbirds have got nothing on the real thing
A Utah realtor’s quest to sell a ghost town
A Utah realtor’s quest to sell a ghost town
Woodside, Utah, a dusty town with an out-of-service gas station and not much else, is for sale. Mike Metzger’s creative marketing of the oddball property led to a media frenzy, but thus far, no buyers.
Jonathan Thompson on the grid
Jonathan Thompson on the grid
KDNK's Nelson Harvey talks with Jonathan Thompson about our stressed and complicated transmission system.
The Western Grid in maps and graphs
The Western Grid in maps and graphs
A map of the West's electric grid and graphs of weather related disturbances, the balance between regional systems, and the impact of geographic smoothing on renewable energy.
Could an Alaska mining project jeopardize Earth’s largest bald eagle gathering?
Could an Alaska mining project jeopardize Earth’s largest bald eagle gathering?
Scientists studying eagles on the Chilkat River near Haines worry that nearby mineral exploration may threaten a chum salmon run the migrating raptors rely on, possibly with cross-continent consequences.
Alaska’s populist, Sarah Palin-era oil tax gets the ax
Alaska’s populist, Sarah Palin-era oil tax gets the ax
The Alaska Legislature cut the industry’s taxes to boost declining production in the North Slope. But the rollbacks don’t seem likely to have the desired effect.
Sycamore Canyon: an essay
Sycamore Canyon: an essay
An expectant couple goes rock climbing.
BLM teams with researchers to protect midget faded rattlesnake
BLM teams with researchers to protect midget faded rattlesnake
Biologists and federal officials hope to direct booming oil, gas and wind development away from the rare reptile in southwest Wyoming and northwest Colorado
How right-wing emigrants conquered North Idaho
How right-wing emigrants conquered North Idaho
Conservative transplants largely from California have taken over Kootenai County -- have they gone too far?
In the field with a Montana couple hunting wolves
In the field with a Montana couple hunting wolves
Amid bitter controversy over allowing hunters and trappers to reduce wolf populations, a Montana couple is dedicated to their hunt.
Of sense and salinity: A swim in the Great Salt Lake
Of sense and salinity: A swim in the Great Salt Lake
Open-water swimmers revive historical swimming routes in Utah's dead sea
Another water-short year in the Southwest is taking its toll
Another water-short year in the Southwest is taking its toll
Generous spring snow storms were a momentary, if welcome, distraction from the region's real weather story: drought.
The gray area: a conversation with artist Renee Couture
The gray area: a conversation with artist Renee Couture
An Oregon artist reinterprets the region's timber wars.