Feature stories

Wild Science: Migratory birds on the Great Salt Lake
Wild Science: Migratory birds on the Great Salt Lake
Scientists explore how phalaropes respond to less water and increased salinity.
The Silicon Valley of marijuana
The Silicon Valley of marijuana
Local officials want Pueblo County, Colorado, to be the best place to grow, but not everyone’s high on the idea.
Shell exacerbates housing shortage in Alaska port town
Shell exacerbates housing shortage in Alaska port town
Nation’s largest fishing port was already short on housing. With Shell in town, locals say things are getting worse.
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Wild Science: Tracking mountain lions with dogs in Colorado
Wild Science: Tracking mountain lions with dogs in Colorado
Are these cats becoming more habituated to humans, or are they just as aloof as ever?
Can human judgment handle avalanches?
Can human judgment handle avalanches?
We’re better than ever at understanding the dangers of avalanches. So why can’t we avoid them?
Obama designates three more national monuments
Obama designates three more national monuments
Vast stretches of Nevada and Northern California are now protected, bringing Obama's count to 19.
Old mines still plague Montana's Clark Fork
Old mines still plague Montana's Clark Fork
Why one of the nation's largest Superfund river sites can't address pollution from abandoned mines.
Hot times usher in early Northwest wildfire season
Hot times usher in early Northwest wildfire season
While Oregon and Washington broil, the Southwest and Southern Rockies enjoy a welcome reprieve of moisture
Wild Science: Counting Gunnison sage grouse
Wild Science: Counting Gunnison sage grouse
In this video, go straight to the breeding grounds of a threatened species.
The U.S.’s only rare-earth mine files for bankruptcy
The U.S.’s only rare-earth mine files for bankruptcy
How plain old economics could end Molycorp’s Mountain Pass Mine in the Mojave Desert.
Photographs of open-air cremation in Colorado
Photographs of open-air cremation in Colorado
As eco-minded baby boomers age, they’re seeking alternatives to modern funerals.
Natural gas leaks are dangerous and exacerbate climate change
Natural gas leaks are dangerous and exacerbate climate change
Plus, enough gas has escaped infrastructure since 2010 to heat 170,000 homes for a year.
Should states be responsible for protecting the atmosphere?
Should states be responsible for protecting the atmosphere?
A youth-led climate action campaign in Oregon gets its days in court.
Courts force feds to consider climate impacts of mining coal
Courts force feds to consider climate impacts of mining coal
A Colorado mine sees the latest in a string of rulings that may threaten the industry.
New border security bill would roll back public lands protections
New border security bill would roll back public lands protections
Sen. John McCain's proposal would give Border Patrol more immediate access to sensitive borderlands.
Tucson’s rain-catching revolution
Tucson’s rain-catching revolution
In the Sonoran Desert, rainwater harvesting is finally going mainstream.
Feds opt not to list Mono Basin sage grouse
Feds opt not to list Mono Basin sage grouse
Conservation efforts persuaded officials that the Nevada-California population will fare well.
On a methane mystery tour in the Four Corners region
On a methane mystery tour in the Four Corners region
Scientists, planes and instruments descend on San Juan Basin to find roots of the massive greenhouse gas hotspot.
An outsider’s guide to insider Portland
An outsider’s guide to insider Portland
Dispatch from a dryland alien in the rainy Northwest.
On the road with America’s sightseers
On the road with America’s sightseers
A photographer looks at three decades of tourism.
Will the Northwest Forest Plan come undone?
Will the Northwest Forest Plan come undone?
The Forest Service and BLM embark on revising the iconic plan and may allow more logging.
A battle for America’s trust
A battle for America’s trust
The war between the fossil fuel industry and Big Green may boil down to who can tell the best story.
Fowl play: California’s drought fingered in bird deaths
Fowl play: California’s drought fingered in bird deaths
Native pigeons and waterfowl fall victim to avian disease.
Who should manage Grand Teton’s private inholdings?
Who should manage Grand Teton’s private inholdings?
A dead wolf and jurisdictional confusion in an iconic national park.
Wyoming’s coal industry faces uncertain future
Wyoming’s coal industry faces uncertain future
New study examines threats to state’s coal-dependent economy.
Federal public land transfers get a Congressional boost
Federal public land transfers get a Congressional boost
Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and a majority of her colleagues signal support for the pro-transfer movement.
Unwanted California tires end up in rivers and beaches
Unwanted California tires end up in rivers and beaches
But efforts to use the trash as building materials in Mexico offer new hope.
Dispatch from a gas patch shopping trip
Dispatch from a gas patch shopping trip
Reporters Notebook from New Mexico's San Juan Basin.
BLM seeks Congressional OK for new fees, private donations
BLM seeks Congressional OK for new fees, private donations
Agency woes range from too many wild horses to not enough drilling inspectors.
The art – and science – of forecasting wildfires
The art – and science – of forecasting wildfires
This model could eliminate guesswork and predict fire according to geography.
Don't expect oil prices to rebound anytime soon
Don't expect oil prices to rebound anytime soon
Global forces conspire to keep energy prices low, for better and worse.
Rants from the Hill: Scout's honor
Rants from the Hill: Scout's honor
How I earned the excommunication merit badge.
Chainsaw diplomacy
Chainsaw diplomacy
In southern Utah’s Escalante watershed, a river restoration group tries to cut through old cultural barriers.
Where can we say ‘Yes’ to oil and gas?
Where can we say ‘Yes’ to oil and gas?
What we give up in so-called sacrifice zones.
The Forest Service bets on second-growth logging in Alaska
The Forest Service bets on second-growth logging in Alaska
But can timber still keep island communities in the Tongass afloat?
Regulators dampen hopes for tribal solar project
Regulators dampen hopes for tribal solar project
The Moapa Solar Energy Center would have provided 175 megawatts to Nevada's largest utility.
Descent into an ice-age bonebed in Wyoming
Descent into an ice-age bonebed in Wyoming
The giant pit may hold clues about the demise of the West’s ancient megafauna.
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.
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.
Hippos spark management debate
Hippos spark management debate
Nation's most fearsome invasive species wreaks havoc on Western waterways.
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.
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?
Author Percival Everett defies categories and generalizations.