Feature stories

Did Colorado leave residents of the Raton Basin with bad water?
Did Colorado leave residents of the Raton Basin with bad water?
Regulators don't link industry to contamination — but testing shows the pollution came after drilling.
Above normal snowpack in some of last winter's driest regions
Above normal snowpack in some of last winter's driest regions
Precipitation in recent months chips away at California drought, but the water deficit will be hard to overcome.
Grand Canyon park’s 15-year failure on sexual harassment
Grand Canyon park’s 15-year failure on sexual harassment
Interior Department investigation shows a history of harassment, hostility and retaliation.
Browse High Country News feature stories
Malheur occupation could set conservation efforts back years
Malheur occupation could set conservation efforts back years
Invasive carp may recolonize areas they were once eradicated from, depending on how long the occupation lasts.
Photos: A protest over imprisoned ranchers becomes an occupation of a wildlife refuge
Photos: A protest over imprisoned ranchers becomes an occupation of a wildlife refuge
In eastern Oregon, the latest iteration of the Sagebrush Rebellion.
Shifts toward clean energy threaten Montana coal town
Shifts toward clean energy threaten Montana coal town
Washington and Oregon utilities consider pulling out of Colstrip’s power station.
Dispatch from Blockadia
Dispatch from Blockadia
Where enviros are uniting with social justice and tribal rights activists in the Northwest to stop new fossil fuel development.
Feds announce moratorium on new coal leases
Feds announce moratorium on new coal leases
Interior Department will examine the federal coal program in light of climate change.
Economic downturns fuel Sagebrush Rebellion events
Economic downturns fuel Sagebrush Rebellion events
Natural resource-dependent rural economies help explain why disputes happen where they do.
How some Western cities are leading on climate action
How some Western cities are leading on climate action
Despite faltering national policy, some communities are forging ahead.
Huge U.S. coal company declares bankruptcy
Huge U.S. coal company declares bankruptcy
Bad investments, cheap natural gas and air pollution regulations led to Arch's decline.
Climate change triggers triage in Northwest forests
Climate change triggers triage in Northwest forests
Siuslaw National Forest managers must decide whether to save meadows or let trees encroach.
The BLM has armed up since 1978, but it’s still outgunned
The BLM has armed up since 1978, but it’s still outgunned
In confrontations with armed groups like the Bundy supporters, local law enforcement matters most.
Can plant-based feeds make aquaculture sustainable?
Can plant-based feeds make aquaculture sustainable?
Some scientists are replacing sardines and anchovies with soybeans and corn as food for farmed fish.
Where private land meets public interest
Where private land meets public interest
A group of landowners on the Colorado-New Mexico border aim to conserve a contested landscape.
Meet the caribou hunter of Arctic Village, Alaska
Meet the caribou hunter of Arctic Village, Alaska
Photos of this winter's hunt and a community's subsistence way of life.
New clues to the past in Nevada's desert fossils
New clues to the past in Nevada's desert fossils
Scientific inquiry is a process of constant revision. And revision is where the most intriguing discoveries happen.
Colorado citizens can now report health problems from oil & gas
Colorado citizens can now report health problems from oil & gas
The nation's first 'health response' program launched this fall.
At the BLM, a mixed record for renewables on public lands
At the BLM, a mixed record for renewables on public lands
Will the Paris talks help break bureaucratic deadlocks?
Pot growers put huge energy demand on the grid
Pot growers put huge energy demand on the grid
Utilities should view legalization as an opportunity, not a threat.
Coal mining rejected for climate risks is back on the table
Coal mining rejected for climate risks is back on the table
The Colorado mine expansion could cost society billions of dollars in climate impacts.
Colorado, other Western states support Syrian refugee program
Colorado, other Western states support Syrian refugee program
Governors choose sides on Obama's Syrian resettlement program.
Ducks Unlimited fires writer over stream access fracas
Ducks Unlimited fires writer over stream access fracas
An axed journalist accuses a billionaire of playing fowl with sportsmen's rights.
Rubio rises in the West
Rubio rises in the West
Western endorsements have the Florida senator and GOP presidential hopeful surging.
Ranch Diaries: What life's like as a female rancher
Ranch Diaries: What life's like as a female rancher
Some ranchers still say women ruin horses and a rancher and his wife can be paid at two-for-the-price-of-one.
Oregon delists wolves, but protections remain
Oregon delists wolves, but protections remain
As in Washington, reactions to the predator reflect deep east-west divides in the state.
Federal fossil fuels programs contradict Obama’s climate goals
Federal fossil fuels programs contradict Obama’s climate goals
Despite the Keystone rejection, keep-it-in-the-ground activism is still a sideshow to the larger climate movement.
The Freedom Caucus and the West
The Freedom Caucus and the West
The new Tea Party-friendly movement is small but already has had a big impact on Western issues.
How do you sex a beaver? Squeeze and sniff
How do you sex a beaver? Squeeze and sniff
Unlocking the secrets of rodent scent glands could help restore Western watersheds.
Bankruptcy expected for Arch Coal, a reflection of industry woes
Bankruptcy expected for Arch Coal, a reflection of industry woes
Climate policies make a rebound for coal unlikely.
Can small communities tackle global food security?
Can small communities tackle global food security?
Climate change has profound impacts on growing seasons and crop yields, but local solutions have promise.
BLM mulls energy development in sage grouse habitat
BLM mulls energy development in sage grouse habitat
Feds may restrict hardrock mining and put oil and gas leases on auction block.
A pumpjack is not a coal mine
A pumpjack is not a coal mine
Eight things you need to know about coalbed methane mining.
To save Washington's Yakima Basin fish, just add water
To save Washington's Yakima Basin fish, just add water
A drought plan in one of the West’s most forward-thinking watersheds reconciles salmon and agriculture.
Cue the greater sage grouse lawsuits
Cue the greater sage grouse lawsuits
With the bird’s non-listing under the Endangered Species Act, expect more of the legal crawl that got us here in the first place.
Katie Lee brings a long-lost artifact back to the Hopi
Katie Lee brings a long-lost artifact back to the Hopi
Iconic Western author journeys with a tribe's spiritual talisman.
Invasive crayfish in Oregon devastate native newts
Invasive crayfish in Oregon devastate native newts
At Crater Lake, the National Park Service is seeking solutions — but it could be too late.
Wild Science: Will climate change force bees to miss flower season?
Wild Science: Will climate change force bees to miss flower season?
Scientists in Colorado investigate ominous climate risks for pollinators.
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.
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.