Essays

What it’s like to fight off fire to save your home
What it’s like to fight off fire to save your home
As neighbors evacuated, one family stayed behind.
‘Will my tears cool the ash?’
‘Will my tears cool the ash?’
A firefighter contemplates the coming fire season.
A book in hand deepens the backcountry experience
A book in hand deepens the backcountry experience
What’s the meaning of lugging literature into the wild?
The West mourns Abbey's death
Writer Edward Abbey's sudden death on March 14th left the nation's environmental movement and lovers of wild and untrammeled land everywhere stunned and grieving.
If everything else fails, we may behave wisely
The West was saved from the wrath of the energy industry by the genius of a free market, even though that market was far from perfect.
Here's a chance to win back the West's rivers
The war for surface water in the intermountain West will likely be won or lost in battles before a single federal agency -- the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Wallace Stegner: The transcendent Western writer
The geographic removal of Stegner from the inland Western landscape he helps us see says a great deal about the past state of this region. But we do not yet know whether the forces that led him out of the region are artifacts or persisting conditions.
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.