Essays

Public land is the essence of freedom
Public land is the essence of freedom
A hunter reflects on the gut-level connection she has to the public land she traverses.
Coal. Guns. Freedom?
Coal. Guns. Freedom?
How the Trump administration has seized mythologies around coal.
Close encounters with a scary fire season
Close encounters with a scary fire season
As wildfires have ripped through the West, take stock of what climate change has wrought.
Rangers are dangerous: Do not annoy or feed them
This is a practical survival guide to the national parks, with down-to-earth advice on how to co-exist with park rangers.
Rhythms of the forest
We need to expand our view of time, give natural events more space and look for the heartbeats that keep it all running.
Two Forks will unite Colorado
From the outside, to a casual observer, Two Forks is inexplicable. From the inside, Two Forks is the only solution to the Denver metro area's -- and the West's -- dilemma that existing leadership can conceive of. Understand Two Forks, and understand the West.
It is very early springtime on Mt. St. Helens
Above, there once was a mountain; below, a new one is rising, a jumbled mound of steaming magma. Surrounding it, striped spires of rock shoot 2,000 feet straight up from the bottom of North America's most famous volcano.
What to do in the West when there's nothing to do
Argue with radio preachers. Sing hymns with Jimmy Joe Bobby and his Swinging Salvationeers. Defend secular humanism as a religion. And more ...
Spring in South Dakota
There is a quickening in the land.
The end of multiple use
Although we are now in a transition stage, forces are in motion that will bring to an end the domination of national forests by timber harvesting.
Ruminations on the ecology of wilderness trash
The great wilderness experience, at times, becomes a continuing obsession with inappropriately placed pop-tops, cigarette butts and Jiffy Pop tins. I am hopelessly addicted to collecting wilderness trash.
Not with bangs or whimpers, but with luxuries
"Perfect skipping stones" sold in the Early Winters catalogue provide the strongest single piece of evidence yet that Western civilization is collapsing on itself like a dwarf star.
The next time your radiator boils over, make soup
If your car is as hot as an oven, use it for one. Give a whirl to the newest summer craze -- car cookery.
The adaptable coyote comes in three temperaments
I've come to identify coyotes by the moods they're in when I see them or by the "lifestyles" they seem to have. First is the hair-trigger-what-the-hell-was-that coyote. Next is the don't-bother-me-I'm-busy coyote and last is the "sellout," or as I prefer, the let's-make-the-best-of-a-good-thing coyote.
Get the public off the public lands
Back in 1986, as environmentalists rallied to push ranchers off public land, nobody could have predicted how the issue would finally be resolved. A new movement was born: the most powerful and sweeping ever seen in natural resource management. It was born with the battle cry: "Get the public off public lands."
Reserve your condo now at the Stapleton Airport
An enterprising reporter has uncovered the secret of low air fares out of Stapleton Airport. Airlines are indeed losing money on each ticket sold. But they are simultaneously raking in enormous commissions from parking lots, news stands, food dispensers and bars.
A frugal desert creature is in deep trouble
There are no mysteries in the story of the demise of the desert tortoise. They are the same factors that have led to the demise of the Southwest itself.
Treating forests as if they had souls
Considering the educational priorities of most forestry schools, it is not surprising that our national forests are badly mismanaged as ecosystems.
Good dog, bad dog
If dogs were totally incompatible with wilderness living, our ancestors wouldn't have bothered having them around back in the days before concrete and the Gross National Product.
Today the rain blows in like a California tourist ...
Don Snow recounts a day fishing in Montana's Bitterroot Mountains.
Greeley said, 'Go West,' but fought the 19th century 'Great Barbeque' of public land
Horace Greeley, best know for saying 'Go West, young man," also said "Nature offers us good bargains, but she does not trust and will not be cheated."
Wolves: the animals that man created
Nowhere in human history has fiction so outdistanced fact as in the lore of the wolf. Along with spiders, snakes and sharks, Carl Jung lists the wolf as generating almost universal fear in the human psyche.
A matter between you and the strutting grouse
The quiet sounds of the sage grouse cannot be heard in places where men talk of energy crises, tradeoffs, balance of payments or national commitment. The burden of all this is too much for public servants to bear alone; now you share it.