Feature stories

Beads are easier to connect than family
Beads are easier to connect than family
In Beth Piatote’s first short-story collection, a niece learns beading and other lessons.
George Takei recounts internment’s long shadow
George Takei recounts internment’s long shadow
The actor and activist remembers his childhood detainment by the U.S. government during World War II in a new graphic novel.
How an Arrow Lakes elk hunt became a case of tribal recognition
How an Arrow Lakes elk hunt became a case of tribal recognition
Rick Desautel shot an elk to prove the Sinixt descendants are not legally ‘extinct.’ Now the Supreme Court of Canada will decide.
Browse High Country News feature stories
Washington eco-saboteurs topple towers
Washington eco-saboteurs topple towers
The Earth Liberation Front claims responsibility for toppling radio towers north of Seattle, but no one really knows who the culprit is.
Forest Service tackles Idaho bighorn problem
Forest Service tackles Idaho bighorn problem
Idaho's Payette National Forest is trying to keep wild bighorn sheep separated from domestic sheep, which can spread disease.
Western elections wrap-up
Western elections wrap-up
High Country News examines the results of what everyone agrees was a "very weird election."
There's something in the water
There's something in the water
A Colorado family discovers that their clear "Rocky Mountain Spring Water" is unsafe to drink.
The windhover
The windhover
Biologist Travis Booms tracks Alaska's elusive gyrfalcons.
Dr. No
Dr. No
Tom Coburn and James Inhofe came to power with the help of Oklahoma's oil industry and religious conservatives.
Grace behind glass
Grace behind glass
An fish ladder on the Columbia River provides a view of unexpected wonders.
Trouble in the PRB
Trouble in the PRB
Environmentalists are attacking "the heart of the beast": the coal mines in Wyoming's Powder River Basin.
Burning questions about biomass
Burning questions about biomass
Getting energy from biomass is more complicated -- and perhaps less green -- than it seems.
Big rigs and rural roads don't mix
Big rigs and rural roads don't mix
A plan to let gigantic rigs travel Montana's winding rural roads for the sake of a tar sands project in Alberta, Canada, is insane.
Us and them vs. all the rest
Us and them vs. all the rest
During the labor struggles of the early 20th century, rough-and-tumble Butte, Mont., survived as a community because of -- rather than despite -- its ethnic diversity.
Fields of dreams
Fields of dreams
"Farmworker Reality Tours" teach citizens about the lives of California's migrant farmworkers.
'The last word is action'
'The last word is action'
Colorado clean-energy activist Leslie Glustrom sees the eventual decline of coal production as a possible ally.
A house like a buffalo
A house like a buffalo
A lover of old Western architecture spends his days dismantling and recycling tumbledown buildings.
How I ran for a U.S. Senate seat, and what I learned
How I ran for a U.S. Senate seat, and what I learned
A first-hand account by a longtime Arizona investigative reporter, John Dougherty, about his surprising Senate campaign.
This land was once their land
This land was once their land
The Northwest is still haunted by the tragic history of Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce Indians.
Lynch-mob politics
Lynch-mob politics
It's not the Old West -- it's our guide to this year's Western elections.
Taming the River Wild
Taming the River Wild
Proposals to make dangerous rapids safer rouse controversy among avid river-users.
Fighting the logic of fire
Fighting the logic of fire
When her new home is threatened by the Fourmile Fire in Boulder, Colo., a writer reassesses her love for the West.
The birds and the bee(tle)s
The birds and the bee(tle)s
A controversial tamarisk control program is shut down over worries that it threatens rare southwestern willow flycatchers.
Once More Unto The Breach
Once More Unto The Breach
Controversial guidebook author Michael Kelsey takes a writer into Utah's notorious Black Hole.
Breathing easy
Breathing easy
In West Oakland, Calif., the Breathmobile fights inner city asthma.
Frack forward
Frack forward
Wyoming's tough new hydraulic fracturing rules are meant to keep federal regulators at bay.
Dancing with Climate Change
Dancing with Climate Change
In California's White Mountains, scientists ponder the fate of beardtongues, bristlecone pines and butterflies in a rapidly warming world.
The Weird West
The Weird West
A slide show of images from HCN's 40th anniversary photo contest.
The Western Lit Blues
The Western Lit Blues
A Western writer is tired of being typecast as a Western writer.
High Country Views: Fire in the foothills
High Country Views: Fire in the foothills
The aftermath of Boulder's destructive Fourmile Canyon fire.
The nature of nature
The nature of nature
Christo's "Over the River" project is just one more in a series of human alterations to the Arkansas River.
"Curious about the human condition"
"Curious about the human condition"
A conversation with Western writer Philip Fradkin.
The Second Second City
The Second Second City
A native Chicagoan who now lives in Montana goes searching for New Chicago, Mont.
What was and what is
What was and what is
In Anchorage, Alaska, Inupiaq poet Joan Kane dreams of the uninhabited island where her ancestors lived.
Love wilderness? Thank a veteran
Love wilderness? Thank a veteran
Some of the environmental movement’s greatest heroes were also heroes of World War II.
Still Cranish After All These Years
Still Cranish After All These Years
A specimen of Homo sapiens sapiens considers evolution and becoming a crane.
Lumbering along, barely
Lumbering along, barely
The timber from Colorado's beetle-killed trees is not finding much of a market.
Road warrior
Road warrior
Ted Conover talks about roads in life and writing.
The Terrain of This Ambition
The Terrain of This Ambition
A writer wrestles with the huge shadows cast by the men and women of “Literary Utah.”
Conservation calculus
Conservation calculus
Energy companies in Wyoming's Jonah Field are funding habitat preservation, but no one seems to know how the wildlife's doing.
‘Clean and healthful environment’
‘Clean and healthful environment’
Can the Montana Constitution derail a gigantic coal mine?
A Hell of an Anniversary
A Hell of an Anniversary
High Country News' founder, Tom Bell, marks our 40th anniversary with a grim prediction: The West -- and the world -- are doomed.
Parting the Redwood Curtain
Parting the Redwood Curtain
A one-mile-long highway project could change life for two remote counties in Northern California.
How green is Judge Molloy?
How green is Judge Molloy?
A pro-wolf ruling by Montana Judge Don Molloy provokes accusations that he's a "nutzoid" greenie, but he doesn't always side with environmentalists.
Surprises flow from Ruby Pipeline
Surprises flow from Ruby Pipeline
A conservation fund provided by an energy company enrages ranchers across Oregon, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.
Sound science
Sound science
Clint Francis studies how the noise of oil and gas development affects the behavior of nesting birds.
Young, All-American, Illegal
Young, All-American, Illegal
Young undocumented immigrants thrive in the U.S. -- until they turn 18 and the law cracks down.
The life and death of Desert Rock
The life and death of Desert Rock
The Navajo Nation's proposed 1,500-megawatt coal plant always rested on shaky ground. Now, it may collapse entirely.
Crude combat
Crude combat
Can U.S. environmentalists derail a huge Canadian tar sands project that affects this side of the border?
The Working West
The Working West
A slide show of images from HCN's 40th anniversary photo contest.
Summer blizzard
Summer blizzard
Wonderful things are everywhere -- but you have to pay attention in order to see them.
Crime crackdown in Indian Country
Crime crackdown in Indian Country
A federal attempt to improve public safety on four reservations has gotten off to a rocky start.
The Fiery Touch
The Fiery Touch
Raymond Oyler is charged with murder and wildfire arson after five firefighters die in California's Esperanza Fire.
The drift dweller
The drift dweller
Colorado scientists have discovered that snow molds are ubiquitous in the high country.
A river again?
A river again?
The EPA extends Clean Water Act protection to L.A.'s urban watershed.
Vermillion surprise
Vermillion surprise
BLM's no-drilling decision in Colorado startles locals.
Case in point
Case in point
Archaeologist Bonnie Pitblado uses a program modeled on Antiques Roadshow to introduce scientists to the artifacts collected by Westerners.
Seeing the triceratops for the trees
Seeing the triceratops for the trees
Paleontologist Kirk Johnson works with artist Jan Vriesen to create vividly realized landscapes of what Colorado looked like millions of years ago.
Dust takes a toll
Dust takes a toll
The increasing clouds of dust in the West are affecting the region’s health, snow cover, rainfall and even climate.
Turning back the tide
Turning back the tide
A volunteer naturalist describes the unique beauty -- and fragility -- of California's Elkhorn Slough Reserve.
The fight for the Flathead
The fight for the Flathead
During the Western Governors' Association meeting in Whitefish, Mont., journalists and dignitaries flew over the threatened landscape around Glacier National Park.
The Ute Paradox
The Ute Paradox
The Southern Utes overcame poverty and oppression to become a wealthy and powerful tribe with nationwide energy holdings.
Mopping up uranium's mess
Mopping up uranium's mess
As another uranium boom hits, Western states take action to clean up old mine and mill sites.
Monkey wrenchers keep on keeping on
Monkey wrenchers keep on keeping on
Ed Abbey's pugnacious spirit lives on in eco-activists like Tim DeChristopher, who quietly sabotaged a Utah BLM energy-lease auction.
Shadowing fishermen's nets with a robot sub
Shadowing fishermen's nets with a robot sub
New research sheds light on life at 90 fathoms.
Shades of hope for uranium's forgotten victims
Shades of hope for uranium's forgotten victims
A proposed bill expands compensation for sick workers.
An infestation of the imagination, in a bark beetle lab
An infestation of the imagination, in a bark beetle lab
Reagan McGuire uses the lessons he learned as a pool shark to tackle the problem of rampaging bark beetles.
Immersed in the Wild
Immersed in the Wild
Edwin Dobb's cold swims in San Francisco Bay, Puget Sound and other Western waters bring him into contact with whales and other aquatic wildlife, as well as hidden currents and storms.
Into the wild
Into the wild
Rue Mapp's group Outdoor Afro encourages black people to explore nature and learn about things like bird-watching.
Guns -- and none
Guns -- and none
A woman who grew up with guns goes on to a life without them.
Fish face-off
Fish face-off
A proposal to ban gillnets in Oregon has commercial fishermen up in arms.
The oil spill's upshot
The oil spill's upshot
The tragic BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could help the environmental movement, if greens act wisely.
Bloody Mystery Lingers in the Desert
Bloody Mystery Lingers in the Desert
The unsolved murder of rancher Robert Krentz adds to the already-high tension along the Arizona-Mexico border.
Health studies gas up
Health studies gas up
A small western Colorado town will be the subject of a study looking at the health impacts of natural gas.
New world, new canvas
New world, new canvas
Joxe Mallea-Olaetxe traces Basque history in arborglyphs on Western aspen trees.
Nature illiteracy
Nature illiteracy
Many hikers are obsessed about correct identification of flora and fauna, but a stalwart few are fine with simply seeing a bird as a bird.
One Tough Sucker
One Tough Sucker
Human beings are the greatest threat -- and the only hope -- for the Colorado River's razorback sucker.
Limbo land: Brownfields for green energy
Limbo land: Brownfields for green energy
Across the West, contaminated landscapes are becoming home to renewable energy projects.
Bracing for white nose syndrome
Bracing for white nose syndrome
A deadly fungus that causes white nose syndrome in bats is slowly moving closer to the West.
Yellowstone bison: Hazed and confused
Yellowstone bison: Hazed and confused
A decade-old Yellowstone management plan isn't doing much for wandering bison, or for the ranchers it's meant to protect.
Walking Woman
Walking Woman
The Owens River is flowing again -- and Mary Austin's Land of Little Rain is rejoicing.
Going to extremes
Going to extremes
Determined ideologues are hijacking Western politics, but some reformers are trying to change that.
The rabbit course
The rabbit course
An Oakland chef teaches students how to butcher bunnies for dinner.
Last rites in salmon country?
Last rites in salmon country?
Salmon fishermen gear up for a risky season despite California’s ongoing water wars.
Clean air, hazy politics
Clean air, hazy politics
A new Colorado air quality law pits coal against natural gas -- and rural environmentalists against urban ones.
Accidental Wilderness
Accidental Wilderness
Washington's Hanford Site and New Mexico's White Sands Missile Range both hold deadly nuclear contamination – along with unspoiled landscapes rich in wildlife.
Little doses of danger
Little doses of danger
A formerly fearless outdoorswoman becomes unexpectedly wary once she becomes the mother of two children.
One Way to Save the Wolf? Hunt It.
One Way to Save the Wolf? Hunt It.
Montana wildlife managers say the state's first wolf hunt has been a success -- for both the hunters and their prey.
It takes a district: Utah landowners control groundwater use
It takes a district: Utah landowners control groundwater use
In southern Utah's Escalante Valley, local landowners will form a water district to save their declining aquifer.
Goodbye, Rocky Mountain News; hello, Mrs. Li
Goodbye, Rocky Mountain News; hello, Mrs. Li
Former Rocky Mountain News employees meet to lament -- and celebrate -- how their lives have changed since Colorado's oldest newspaper folded a year ago.
Urban habitat
Urban habitat
The ups and downs of an Audubon nature center in the middle of low-income urban L.A.
The Secret Lives of River  Guides
The Secret Lives of River Guides
Every spring, Grand Canyon boatmen meet for an educational seminar -- and a rousing good time.
Crossing over
Crossing over
This particular city girl never wanted to live in a small mountain town – until she fell in love with one of the residents.
Viva la Archives!
Viva la Archives!
Budget cuts have endangered California's Water Resources Center Archives, which serves as the state's institutional water memory.
Wilderness by committee
Wilderness by committee
Complicated deals are being made over wilderness protection in Colorado and in San Juan County, Utah.
Sinclair flare up
Sinclair flare up
The Sinclair, Wyo., oil refinery has long been one of the state's most notorious polluters, but until recently, no one seemed to care.
Reduce, reuse, re ... steelhead?
Reduce, reuse, re ... steelhead?
In Oregon, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife carefully “recycles" hatchery-raised steelhead.
Nevada's Golden Child
Nevada's Golden Child
Hardrock mining's outsized political power in Nevada may finally be eroding, thanks to state budget woes.
The marten chronicles
The marten chronicles
Biologists trying to photograph wolverines see martens as a nuisance, but martens are actually pretty cool creatures themselves.
The Butterfly Sting
The Butterfly Sting
How a federal wildlife agent brought down one of the world's most notorious insect thieves.
Eligible mustangs
Eligible mustangs
In an effort to adopt out more wild horses, the Bureau of Land Management starts posting ads online.
Pioneer stock
Pioneer stock
A Franciscan manzanita, long believed extinct in the wild, is discovered near San Francisco, in the path of a highway expansion.
March Madness in Indian Country
March Madness in Indian Country
Basketball provides a bright spot in reservation life.
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