Feature stories

What fire researchers learned from Northern California blazes
What fire researchers learned from Northern California blazes
In California, land managers use fire as a tool.
A tale of two parks: How the Bakken boom transformed a landscape
A tale of two parks: How the Bakken boom transformed a landscape
While a North Dakota national park is an oasis from drilling, a nearby state park is thrown open.
Threatened plants on state lands have few protections
Threatened plants on state lands have few protections
Politics, land ownership and imperiled plants collide in New Mexico.
Browse High Country News feature stories
The casual violence of driving
The casual violence of driving
We seldom notice the animals killed by today's fast-moving cars, unless we're traveling slowly, on a bicycle.
Toads on high: tracking and photographing boreal toads
Toads on high: tracking and photographing boreal toads
Biologists trek high into the Colorado Rockies in search of the rare amphibian.
Navajo Monster Slayers: a tribe struggles to fight corruption
Navajo Monster Slayers: a tribe struggles to fight corruption
The West's largest tribe works to reform its government -- while keeping its traditions strong.
River rafting -- no car required
River rafting -- no car required
How to enjoy a summer raft trip, fossil-fuel-free.
Invasion of the feral pigs
Invasion of the feral pigs
Feral pigs are invading New Mexico and other Western states, but biologists are working hard to stop them.
New Mexico Feral Swine Distribution
Idaho: The CAFO state?
Idaho: The CAFO state?
Idaho rolls out the welcome mat for chicken farms and other huge livestock operations.
 Adventuring on Colorado's big peaks
Adventuring on Colorado's big peaks
A woman finds solace and delight in climbing Colorado's highest and most challenging mountains.
Barrow, Alaska: an unlikely boomtown
Barrow, Alaska: an unlikely boomtown
A Korean cabdriver finds an unlikely home in Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost town in the U.S.
Ganjanomics: bringing Humboldt’s shadow economy into the light
Ganjanomics: bringing Humboldt’s shadow economy into the light
Marijuana growers and government officials in California's notorious "Emerald Triangle" work towards legitimizing the local cash crop.
Re-watering Nevada's dying Walker Lake
Re-watering Nevada's dying Walker Lake
Walker Lake in northwestern Nevada has been dying for years, but locals and government officials are determined to restore it.
Yellowstone leak highlights a different kind of oil spill
Yellowstone leak highlights a different kind of oil spill
A recent oil spill in Montana's Yellowstone River reminds Westerners that not all such environmental disasters happen in the Gulf of Mexico.
Wedding in the shadowed valley
Wedding in the shadowed valley
What do you do when you're hit by doubts on the very morning of your wedding?
Montana's stream access law stays strong
Montana's stream access law stays strong
The Montana Legislature abandons an attempt to tighten the state's permissive stream-access laws.
A former energy company lawyer now fights for the other side
A former energy company lawyer now fights for the other side
Attorney Lance Astrella represents landowners coping with oil and gas development on their doorsteps.
Milestone in Cobell Indian trust case
Milestone in Cobell Indian trust case
Elouise Cobell's long-running lawsuit over Indian trust accounts appears to be finally reaching a settlement.
Stream access laws on private lands in the West
The fight over a much-needed pesticide: methyl iodide
The fight over a much-needed pesticide: methyl iodide
California places tough restrictions on the pesticide methyl iodide, but opponents believe that's not enough to protect workers and the environment.
Jonathan Thompson on the West's Chinese 'stimulus package'
Jonathan Thompson on the West's Chinese 'stimulus package'
Jonathan Thompson talks with Cally Carswell about how foreign demand is influencing the West's latest extractive boom.
Global Players in the West's Extraction Economy
Global Players in the West's Extraction Economy
An interactive map of global influence in Western energy plays
The Global West: how foreign investment fuels resource extraction in western states
The Global West: how foreign investment fuels resource extraction in western states
China's insatiable energy appetite is fueling a natural resource boom in the West.
In search of diversity in our national parks
In search of diversity in our national parks
One man's quest to understand why people of color are underrepresented in outdoor recreation and the conservation movement.
Famous or obscure, our rivers are priceless
Famous or obscure, our rivers are priceless
The oil spill on the Yellowstone River is just one of too many disasters caused by our addiction to petroleum.
Rocky Mountain wolf recovery leader was not your average bureaucrat
Rocky Mountain wolf recovery leader was not your average bureaucrat
An interview with Ed Bangs, who recently retired from heading the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's gray wolf recovery program
Leadville, an old Colorado mining town, may resume mining
Leadville, an old Colorado mining town, may resume mining
As prices soar, Freeport McMoRan ponders reviving the town's Climax molybdenum mine
A right to be protected: Gary Marbut's case for gun rights
A right to be protected: Gary Marbut's case for gun rights
A profile of Montana gun-rights activist Gary Marbut.
For steelhead, dirty water might be better than clean
For steelhead, dirty water might be better than clean
A wastewater treatment plant provides nutrients that help endangered steelhead thrive in an Idaho stream.
Shifting gears to a brave new world of Lycra
Shifting gears to a brave new world of Lycra
Is it possible to buy a new mountain bike without buying tons of other stuff?
A fee-dodging retiree forces a national forest to rethink access charges
A fee-dodging retiree forces a national forest to rethink access charges
A retired geophysicist named Jim Smith successfully challenges Arizona's Coconino National Forest on access fees.
The growth of newspapers across the U.S.: 1690-2011
The growth of newspapers across the U.S.: 1690-2011
An interactive visualization showing how newspapers across the U.S. have grown in the past three centuries.
Rural papers doing better than their city counterparts
Rural papers doing better than their city counterparts
In an age where the decline newspapers seems imminent, small town papers still fill a niche.
Why the Southwest is burning
Why the Southwest is burning
This season’s wildfires are caused by three things: Climate change-induced drought, bureaucratic blindness and old-fashioned human folly.
The 'Utah solution' to immigration
The 'Utah solution' to immigration
Utah religious, business and political leaders suggest an immigration compromise, but the state's lawmakers are terrified of being caught voting for "amnesty."
Abrahm Lustgarten on fracking
Abrahm Lustgarten on fracking
An interview with ProPublica energy and environment reporter Abrahm Lustgarten.
Hydrofracked: One man’s quest for answers about natural gas drilling
Hydrofracked: One man’s quest for answers about natural gas drilling
A Wyoming farmer battles industry and bureaucracy trying to find out whether hydraulic fracturing -- used in natural gas drilling -- polluted his drinking water.
Encountering a California condor takes one writer back in time
Encountering a California condor takes one writer back in time
An interaction with a rare vulture sparks reflections on dinosaurs and extinction.
States work conservation into trust lands management
States work conservation into trust lands management
Urban sprawl helps spur new efforts at compromise in managing state trust lands.
Western papers drop D.C. reporters
Western papers drop D.C. reporters
As more newspapers withdraw reporters from Washington, D.C., Westerners wonder who's keeping an eye on the capital.
Spring-cleaning the acequia: A photo essay
Spring-cleaning the acequia: A photo essay
The annual spring cleaning of its irrigation ditch brings tiny El Cerrito, N.M., together to work and celebrate.
Fire fight: Forest Service explores chemical retardant hazards
Fire fight: Forest Service explores chemical retardant hazards
The Forest Service finally assesses the impacts of fire retardant chemicals, but never answers the question of how useful they really are.
How developers and businessmen cash in on Grand Canyon overflights
How developers and businessmen cash in on Grand Canyon overflights
An air-tour businessman and Italian developers become deeply enmeshed in the politics of tiny Tusayan, Ariz., part of a plan to profit from the nearby Grand Canyon.
State trust lands at a glance
State trust lands at a glance
The West's state trust lands form a complex patchwork, and each state manages them differently.
BLM shields renewable projects from mining speculation
BLM shields renewable projects from mining speculation
New rule clears the way for solar and wind projects on public land.
A nuclear watchdog pushes feds on safety
A nuclear watchdog pushes feds on safety
California Republican state Sen. Sam Blakeslee questions the Nuclear Regulatory Commission about the safety of the state’s nuclear plants.
How the gray wolf lost its endangered status — and how enviros helped
How the gray wolf lost its endangered status — and how enviros helped
A strategic miscalculation by environmental groups helped spur the delisting of gray wolves in Montana and Idaho.
The One-Eyed Squirrel of Ooh-Aah Point
The One-Eyed Squirrel of Ooh-Aah Point
Ol' One-Eye of Ooh-Aah Point leads a wildlife-loving trail-crew worker to act a bit out of character…
Greening a city ... and pushing other colors out
Greening a city ... and pushing other colors out
The proposed redevelopment of San Francisco's Bayview neighborhood worries its longtime black residents, who fear gentrification will drive them out.
An interview with Carter Niemeyer, author of "Wolfer: A Memoir"
An interview with Carter Niemeyer, author of "Wolfer: A Memoir"
Emilene Ostlind talks with Niemeyer about his years tracking, capturing, relocating and removing wolves in the Northern Rockies, and his perspective on wolf management.
U.S. Northern Rockies wolf graph
Velocity, Ferocity and the Gem City
A Gem City Atlas: Novel maps of Laramie, Wyoming
A Gem City Atlas: Novel maps of Laramie, Wyoming
The city explores its past and present with an innovative project called Laramie: A Gem City Atlas.
Walking in the body of being
Walking in the body of being
Not everybody understands why pinacate beetles are such good company, but philosopher Baruch Spinoza is likely one of them.
Doctor's Orders: Undam the Klamath
Doctor's Orders: Undam the Klamath
Both Indians and whites battle diabetes on the Klamath watershed, where dam building ended the salmon runs that once kept the First People alive.
Three Tribes, a Dam and a Diabetes Epidemic
Three Tribes, a Dam and a Diabetes Epidemic
On North Dakota's Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, a diabetes epidemic has its roots in the dam that flooded the tribes' farmland and destroyed their way of life.
Where has Montana's water gone?
Where has Montana's water gone?
The Yellowstone River Compact may not protect Montanans who rely on the Tongue River’s water.
Wild lands by any other name
Wild lands by any other name
For 18 years, Westerners have been arguing about BLM’s wilderness-worthy land; now, the Obama administration has stepped in.
Yellowstone bison get more room to roam
Yellowstone bison get more room to roam
Wild bison are making headway towards roaming more freely in Montana.
Bureau of Land Management, Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas
Yellowstone River Basin
Prevalence of Diagnosed Diabetes
Three Cups of Tea, the sequel
Three Cups of Tea, the sequel
The fallout from the fracas over Greg Mortenson's book, "Three Cups of Tea," ranges from Afghanistan to Montana and the Mountainfilm Festival in Telluride, Colo.
Bridging American Indian students' scientific achievement gap
Bridging American Indian students' scientific achievement gap
Educator Michael Ceballos breaks down the barriers keeping young Native Americans from careers in science.
The most influential conservationist you’ve never heard of
The most influential conservationist you’ve never heard of
The Sierra Club's Debbie Sease has spent three decades on Capitol Hill, fighting for the West.
A misguided investigation ends an era in Arizona
A misguided investigation ends an era in Arizona
Over-zealous federal agents destroyed the unique atmosphere of the Navajo Reservation’s Hubbell Trading Post.
Wind farms test efforts to cooperate on Oregon's Steens Mountain
Wind farms test efforts to cooperate on Oregon's Steens Mountain
Legislation protecting the mountain fails to prevent energy development proposals.
Steens Mountain wind farms
Steens Mountain wind farms
Columbia Energy Partners plans to build four 104-MW wind farms with 40 to 60 turbines each on Steens Mountain. East and West Ridge will be on private land inside the protected area boundaries, Echanis on private land just outside the protected area and Riddle Mountain on state land.
Cuts to energy, transportation and the environment
Federal budget deal slashes key community water funds
Federal budget deal slashes key community water funds
Federal budget cuts dry up the funding for crucial community water projects.
Privatization threatens an Arizona national forest
Privatization threatens an Arizona national forest
Arizona's Tonto National Forest has forgotten that it belongs to the American citizens who pay to support the West's public lands.
Today's garden plants can be tomorrow's invasives
Today's garden plants can be tomorrow's invasives
Some popular ornamental garden plants have become invasive, particularly in California.
Rare-earth reality check
Rare-earth reality check
Suddenly, everyone is eyeing the West's rare-earth deposits, but mining and processing the metals will not be easy.
The sign maker
The sign maker
The wooden signs Phil Garfoot made still offer directions to his friends, even after his death.
Sedimentation is a building problem in the West's reservoirs
Sedimentation is a building problem in the West's reservoirs
The West's reservoirs are waging a constant battle against rising levels of sediment.
Rare earth deposits in the West
Selected Bureau of Reclamation reservoirs ... and how they've shrunk*
Muddy Waters: Silt and the Slow Demise of Glen Canyon Dam
Muddy Waters: Silt and the Slow Demise of Glen Canyon Dam
A float down the Lower San Juan teaches surprising lessons about dams, water and silt in the West.
Can bandits: Recycling fraud hits California
Can bandits: Recycling fraud hits California
Criminals steal millions from the state -- one nickel at a time
Uncommon Westerner: Bevan Frost crafts custom guitars
Uncommon Westerner: Bevan Frost crafts custom guitars
A luthier credits his Western upbringing with shaping the instruments he builds.
How the Civil War shaped the West
How the Civil War shaped the West
The Civil War ended slavery -- and also determined how the West would be developed.
Photographer Sharon Stewart on the acequia tradition
Photographer Sharon Stewart on the acequia tradition
The photographer discusses landscape photography and her immersion in a tiny New Mexican town.
Peter McBride on photographing the contentious Colorado River
Peter McBride on photographing the contentious Colorado River
National Geographic photographer Peter McBride shows images from his new book and discusses what he learned while working on it.
The Tao of Pow: Learning to love winter
The Tao of Pow: Learning to love winter
A newcomer to Utah learns to love winter with the help of snowshoes.
Elite club blocked from logging giant redwoods
Elite club blocked from logging giant redwoods
The Bohemian Club -- a Northern California retreat for the rich and powerful -- meets a legal roadblock that stops it from quietly logging old-growth redwoods.
BLM stays course in Wyoming gas patch despite mule deer decline
BLM stays course in Wyoming gas patch despite mule deer decline
Mule deer on Wyoming's Pinedale Anticline are struggling, and the BLM's adaptive management plan has done nothing to help.
Rural Oregon timber county seeks economic revival through renewables
Rural Oregon timber county seeks economic revival through renewables
Rural Lake County, Ore., has gone from a timber economy to one based on producing - and exporting - renewable energy.
Oregon sculptor turns beach trash into meaningful art
Oregon sculptor turns beach trash into meaningful art
Angela Haseltine Pozzi makes thought-provoking art from the trash that washes up on Oregon's beaches.
Pacific chorus frogs make urban comeback

Pacific chorus frogs make urban comeback

Pacific chorus frogs are making an unexpected resurgence in San Francisco, with a little help from human friends.
Beef cattle operations, 1980-2010
Cattlemen struggle against giant meatpackers and economic squeezes
Cattlemen struggle against giant meatpackers and economic squeezes
Ranchers battle gigantic meatpackers to get a fair price for cattle in a changing economy.
Lakeview renewable projects proposed and in progress
Montana transmission lines draw opposition from all sides
Montana transmission lines draw opposition from all sides
Republicans battle Republicans, environmentalists battle environmentalists, over power lines for wind and solar energy.
California crab-boat captain powers through tsunami to safety
California crab-boat captain powers through tsunami to safety
A Crescent City, Calif. crab boat captain maneuvers his way through a tsunami-whorled sea in order to save his fishing boat.
Mount St. Helens: A world apart?
Mount St. Helens: A world apart?
Washington's Mount St. Helens is protected as a living volcanic-recovery laboratory, but a completely "natural" environment has never been possible.
New national forest rule lacks rigor
New national forest rule lacks rigor
Environmentalists like the tone of the Forest Service's new draft planning rule, but worry about how - and if - it will be enforced on the ground.
Forestry + genetics = a blister rust solution?
Forestry + genetics = a blister rust solution?
Genetic sequencing may hold the key to stopping blister rust, a disease that's ravaging Western whitebark pines.
An Unusual Miss Navajo
An Unusual Miss Navajo
Radmilla Cody, who made history as the first biracial Miss Navajo and later served time in prison, now uses her singing to fight racism and domestic violence.
Major proposed and existing transmission lines in the West
Western wildlife commissions on the chopping block
Western wildlife commissions on the chopping block
In Washington and New Mexico, state wildlife commissions could become a thing of the past.
In Navajoland, a contentious water deal divides the tribe
In Navajoland, a contentious water deal divides the tribe
The Navajos are on the brink of getting water they've long been entitled to, but not everybody on the reservation is pleased.
Jeff Rice on documenting the West in sound
Jeff Rice on documenting the West in sound
Hear the sounds Jeff Rice collects around the West and learn about why he does it.