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High Country News July 23, 2012

Feature

Can the outdoor gear industry wield its power for conservation?

Pioneering mountaineer Peter Metcalf built Black Diamond into a successful climbing-gear business when nobody thought it could be done. But his dream of turning the outdoor industry into a force for nature remains tantalizingly elusive.

Current

Coal-export schemes ignite unusual opposition, from Wyoming to India

Ambitious schemes to build railroads and ports to ship Powder River Basin coal abroad will bring pollution and traffic to communities along the transport path, who are rising up in protest.

Congress thwarts effort to reduce Grand Canyon noise pollution

A last-minute provision in July’s transportation bill overrules Park Service recommendations for quieting the cacophony of sightseeing air traffic over the Grand Canyon.

Smokey Bear: From cute to buff, and in between

Smokey Bear’s many image changes over the years reflect the Forest Service’s changing attitudes toward wildfire.

Oregon ignores logging road runoff, to the peril of native fish

Oregon has long refused to regulate sediment runoff from logging roads as pollution under the Clean Water Act. Now, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide what the state should do.

Will Utah's tar sands make it the Alberta of the high desert?

Calgary-based U.S. Oil Sands says it's ready to take its exploratory effort in eastern Utah’s Tavaputs Plateau commercial.

Editor's Note

Can capitalism boost conservation?

The outdoor-gear industry makes its living off a landscape it claims to love. But when it comes to spending cash for conservation, it hasn’t done much.

Dear Friends

HCN: Preferred reading of cab drivers and geologists

HCN's visitors brave the early summer heat; former intern Lisa Song and reporter Elizabeth McGowan write an e-book called The Dilbit Disaster: Inside the Biggest Oil Spill You've Never Heard Of.

Uncommon Westerners

Save a chimney, save a swift

As their natural roosts disappeared, Vaux's swifts turned to old, brick chimneys for refuge during long migrations. Those safe havens are disappearing, too. Luckily, the swifts -- and the chimneys -- have found a champion in Larry Schwitters

Book Reviews

Bob Kuhn: Drawing on Instinct

In this art book, Adam Duncan Harris assembles the work of one of the West’s premier wildlife artists, pairing his finished acrylic paintings with the conté crayon sketches that inspired them

Hero worship: A review of Let the Birds Drink in Peace

In Robert Garner McBrearty’s fresh and funny new story collection, ordinary guys occasionally experience an instant of greatness – and have to deal with the unexpected consequences.

Once upon a time in a small town: A review of The Other Shoe

Matt Pavelich takes what appears to be an ordinary tale about traveling the rural West and turns into something much darker and stranger in his new novel.

Essays

In praise of ancient tree stumps

Snoqualmie, Wash., is scattered with giant stumps that tell the area's history -- except in a brand-new development, where such signs of "real" Western life have been removed.

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