Items by Geoffrey O'Gara

A visit to the Grand Canyon, without handrails
A visit to the Grand Canyon, without handrails
A wild river is “a necessity of the human spirit.”
The Big Secret: Highly toxic pesticides in the Rockies
Although the use of toxic chemicals for agriculture in the Rocky Mountains is a public health concern, it is not a matter of public record.
Bicentennial bash is more than a party for tribes
Tourists following the Lewis and Clark Trail may not get the eager welcome from Native Americans that they’d like
The Last Open Range
Wyoming’s Green Mountain Common Allotment is one of the West’s last big, wide-open landscapes – but these days, ranchers, environmentalists, history buffs and the BLM are arguing over whether it’s time to start putting up fences
Waterless in Wind River?
Midvale, Wyo., farmers worry after the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed last year that the tribes of the Wind River Reservation have rights to over 500,000 acre-feet of water.
Saga of a High Country Newsman
Saga of a High Country Newsman
The effort to get the word out -- about wilderness, about archaic mining laws, about illegal shooting of golden eagles, and so many more issues besides -- would cost Bell his ranch, many of his friends, and, very nearly, his sanity.
The middle of the madding crowd
Has much changed since Rudyard Kipling toured Yellowstone in 1889 and wished he were dead, rather than be among preening American tourists?
Gas sours wildlife in Wyoming
Wildlife killed by poisonous, hydrogen sulfide-laden "sour gas" leaking from a natural gas well raises concerns about future oil and gas drilling in Wyoming.
Watt's wilderness proposal sets agenda for energy industry
To an energy industry stretched thin, Interior Secretary James Watt's temporary ban on oil and gas drilling in wilderness areas is something of a favor.
Juggling wildlife and 'other needs'
Is U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service head Robert Jantzen cutting an already undernourished budget and favoring ranching interests over wildlife in his predator control and grazing policies?
Getting no breaks at C.M Russell
Livestock grazing and wildlife clash in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's management plan for the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge.
The Overthrust moneybelt: Difficult dispersal of impact dollars
A natural gas boom around Evanston, Wyoming, has brought a rise in violent crime, traffic and disintegration of rural culture, but funds set aside to mitigate the impacts haven't been properly applied.
Project Lighthawk gets conservationists off the ground
With his small plane, Michael Stewartt flies journalists, government officials and activists around the Rocky Mountain region to give them a birds-eye view of strips mines, coal-fired power plants and areas of scenic beauty.
'Ecotage' seeks wild ends but won't make friends
No philosophical or psychological rationale speaks to the effectiveness of ecotage, Politically, what made sense for the Sixties activists is unlikely to work for wilderness advocates in the Eighties.
Jeffrey City: "I don't know a person in town who isn't thinking of leaving"
In Jeffrey City, Wyo., a 25-year-old boom town that lies in one of the most hostile environments in the country, the local union struggles to hold the town together amid layoffs caused by a downturn in the uranium industry.
Anaconda: The smelter shuts down, and so does the town
Citing antiquated equipment, pollution control problems and foreign competition, Atlantic Richfield Co. announced recently that it will not reopen its Anaconda, Montana, copper smelter, which employs nearly 1,000 people.
Powder River's new rail track moves forward despite foes
Chicago and North Western Transportation Corp. is inching its locomotives towards the coal fields of the Powder River Basin in Wyoming. But local ranchers, Wyoming's governor and the powerful Burlington Northern Railroad are all trying to keep it out.
States, courts, cutbacks put pressure on strip mine agency
Even as strip mines multiply throughout the Rocky Mountain states, the federal agency responsible for overseeing reclamation of mined lands -- the Office of Surface Mining -- is reeling under a series of blows.
In situ uranium project springs leak, but pumps again
The fate of Wyoming's first commercial-size in situ uranium mine remains uncertain following a Nuclear Regulatory Commission decision giving the operation 90 days to prove it can operate without polluting ground water near Buffalo, Wyo.
Cache la Poudre River: last Front Range chance to flow
Farmers and advocates of Front Range growth winced last month when the U.S. Forest Service and State of Colorado recommended that most of the Cache la Poudre River be protected from major development.
Workers, plants, confusion come to 'sweeten' Evanston gas
Two large "sweetening" plants -- which remove toxic hydrogen sulfide from natural gas -- are slated for construction near Evanston, Wyoming.
Fraud freezes oil leases; reform bill falters
The future of federal gas and oil leasing has been thrown into turmoil by evidence of extensive fraud, an Interior Department shutdown of the present program, and a report critical of legislation intended to overhaul the system.
The grizzly: How many? Where? For how long?
The Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team, a group of game experts from state and federal agencies, may determine the future of the grizzly.
How many coal bucks should a smart state lasso?
States apply a variety of severance taxes to non-renewable resources such as coal, defying efforts to create a unified, national approach.
Teapot Dome earns big as private drillers steam
Oil pumped from the federal oil reserve at Teapot Dome, Wyoming, sells at prices six times higher than oil from adjacent private fields because of price controls.
Federal energy program taking shape in Congress
After more than seven years of trying, Congress is close to enacting a comprehensive national energy program that would include a government-sponsored synthetic fuels program and a "fast-track" board to speed domestic energy projects.
Hail and farewell! 1979
A Holiday season ode to the West's environmental issues of 1979: "It's time for reviewing the year first to last: // A remembrance of two dozen deadlines past. // Water and wilderness, endangered species, // Oil, Alaska, railroads and coal leases;"
Canny CERT gets respect, money, problems
Despite its problems and dissidents, the Council of Energy Resource Tribes -- comprising 25 tribes who own one-third of the low sulfur coal west of the Mississippi and as much as half the privately owned uranium in the country -- is emerging as a serious player in the energy development game.
DeSmet coal-to-gas plant in the works again
The small town of Buffalo, Wyoming, may face an influx of more than 20,000 people if Texaco Inc. and Texas Eastern Corp. go ahead with plans for a strip mine and coal gasification plant near Lake DeSmet.
Wildlife and livestock face off in refuge battle
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management are cutting back on grazing permits in Montana's Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, angering ranchers.
Northern Tier oil pipe likely to go if dollars flow
The 1,500-mile Northern Tier pipeline, which would transport Alaskan crude oil from Port Angeles, Wash. to Clearbrook, Minn., is expected to be approved by Interior Secretary Cecil Andrus and President Carter.
High Country News Classifieds
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  • COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
    Western Colorado Alliance for Community Action is seeking two full time community organizers to join our team. Positions can be based in Garfield County, Montrose...
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    Join our team as the Association's Executive Director. Working closely with the Board of Directors, take ANWS to the next level of professionalism by managing...
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    Friends of Cedar Mesa is hiring a Development Director who will have the overall responsibilities of leading our fundraising programs and reports directly to our...
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    Job Overview: Working to support and implement the Department's mission to help ensure that Montana's land and water resources provide benefits for present and future...
  • CLIMATE CHANGE COORDINATOR
    The Greater Yellowstone Coalition is seeking a Climate Change Coordinator to play a lead role in shaping our programs to make the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Executive Director Position Announcement POSITION TITLE: Executive Director ORGANIZATION: Friends of Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument REPORTING TO: Board of Directors EMPLOYMENT TYPE: Part-time - Full-time, based...
  • HEALTHY CITIES PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    The Healthy Cities Program Director leads and manages the Healthy Cities Program for the Arizona Chapter and is responsible for developing and implementing innovative, high...
  • CONSERVATION PROGRAM MANAGER
    Grand Staircase Escalante Partners (GSEP) Conservation Programs Manager Job Opening Our Mission: Honoring the past and safeguarding the future of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument through...
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    Grand Staircase Escalante Partners (GSEP) Associate Director Job Posting Our Mission: Honoring the past and safeguarding the future of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument through science,...
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    Join Skagit Land Trust (the Trust), a not-for-profit conservation organization based in Mount Vernon, Washington, and help protect land for people and wildlife. Skagit Land...
  • 2022 SEASONAL SCIENCE EDUCATOR
    The Mount St. Helens Institute Science Educator supports our science education and rental programs including day and overnight programs for youth ages 6-18, their families...
  • POLICY DIRECTOR
    Heart of the Rockies Initiative is seeking a Policy Director to lead and define policy efforts to advance our mission to keep working lands and...
  • CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER
    Self-Help Enterprises seeks an experienced and strategic CFO
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    View full job description and how to apply at
  • RIVER EDUCATOR & GUIDE
    River Educator & Guide River Educator & Guide (Trip Leader) Non-exempt, Seasonal Position: Full-time OR part-time (early April through October; may be flexible with start/end...
  • LAND AND WATER CONSERVATION DIRECTOR
    The Land and Water Conservation Director is a full-time salaried position with the Mountain Area Land Trust in Evergreen, CO. The successful candidate will have...