Feature stories

Gold country: A precious metal, a mining mega-corp and a captive workforce
Gold country: A precious metal, a mining mega-corp and a captive workforce
In 2019, two gold-mining giants joined forces, with huge consequences for the Northern Nevada community and economy.
Betting the ranch
Betting the ranch
Cody Easterday wagered hundreds of millions of dollars on the price of beef. He lost.
Wild horses, buffalo and the politics of belonging
Wild horses, buffalo and the politics of belonging
On the Wind River Indian Reservation, two animals slip between the cracks of what is wild and what isn’t.
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Rural California schoolkids learn from fire-damaged forest
Rural California schoolkids learn from fire-damaged forest
A rural California school builds an innovative curriculum around a nearby forest and the fire that burned it down in 2007.
Inside Taft High
Inside Taft High
Teacher Ted Pendergrass and his students take us inside the first high school in the country devoted to oil production.
Fast Times at California's Petroleum High
Fast Times at California's Petroleum High
A day in the life of the U.S.'s first high school academy devoted to oil production.
Western court scraps intervention restrictions for enviro lawsuits
Western court scraps intervention restrictions for enviro lawsuits
The 9th Circuit Court tosses its "federal defendant" rule, giving interested parties a clearer path for intervening in environmental lawsuits.
A Nez Perce elder spreads love for lamprey
A Nez Perce elder spreads love for lamprey
Nez Perce elder Elmer Crow teaches children and their parents to respect an uncharismatic parasitic fish, the lamprey.
Judith Lewis Mernit on Obama's enviro record
Judith Lewis Mernit on Obama's enviro record
Judith Lewis Mernit talks with Cally Carswell about how the Obama administration's policies are impacting the West.
Obama’s record on Western environmental issues
Obama’s record on Western environmental issues
Not everybody is happy, but the Obama administration is making slow but steady progress in dealing with the West's environmental issues.
State and municipal governments fertilize local food craze
State and municipal governments fertilize local food craze
Local governments are trying to give a boost to small farmers and organic growers.
California's Hupa tribe wars over fish
California's Hupa tribe wars over fish
Three decades after winning the right to catch salmon, California's Hupa Indians debate whether it's right to sell those fish off the reservation.
Challenges pile up for avalanche mitigation on mountain highways
Challenges pile up for avalanche mitigation on mountain highways
Highway avalanche control gets harder as mountain communities grow and skiers flock to the backcountry.
Depth afield
Depth afield
Why are photographs of the Western landscape so essential to our lives?
Small poultry farmers grapple with lack of slaughterhouses
Small poultry farmers grapple with lack of slaughterhouses
There just aren't enough slaughterhouses for small poultry farms in Oregon and other Western states.
 Utah’s Sagebrush Rebellion capital mellows as animal-lovers and enviros move in
Utah’s Sagebrush Rebellion capital mellows as animal-lovers and enviros move in
Kane County, Utah, heart of the Sagebrush Rebellion and an off-road vehicle paradise, is also home to a growing number of environmentalists, hikers and animal lovers.
A poet whom readers won't let go
A poet whom readers won't let go
The late Northwestern poet William Stafford has friends and admirers all over the world today.
My walkabout with Michael
My walkabout with Michael
Author Pat Toomay shadows iconic Western photographer Michael Berman on a trip through the Gila Wilderness.
Real hunters get the lead out
Real hunters get the lead out
Lead bullets are harmful to hunters as well as to the environment.
Foraging for fungi in the Pacific Northwest
Foraging for fungi in the Pacific Northwest
A banner year for mushrooms raises questions about the science behind fungi and the impacts of wild harvesting.
Ronald Reagan: The accidental environmentalist
Ronald Reagan: The accidental environmentalist
Former president's poor economic record had environmental benefits.
I hope you're not suffering from nyctophobia
I hope you're not suffering from nyctophobia
How we can help our neighbors who suffer from an irrational fear of the dark.
A long journey home
A long journey home
The Winnemem Wintu Tribe wants to return salmon to California's McCloud River by bringing back the fish’s descendents, now in New Zealand.
Teaching Whitney to cook
Teaching Whitney to cook
An environmental educator discovers a rewarding way to help the planet -- teaching a young woman how to cook.
Forecasting 2011
Forecasting 2011
Columnist Ed Quillen peers into his crystal ball to see what's in store for the West next year.
Sportsmen protest New Mexico antelope hunting system
Sportsmen protest New Mexico antelope hunting system
New Mexico's system for doling out licenses to hunt pronghorn gets a poor grade from the state’s hunters.
Coyotes move into Colorado’s Front Range
Coyotes move into Colorado’s Front Range
Urban communities on Colorado's Front Range are trying to cope with an influx of coyotes.
Activist brings diversity to green orgs
Activist brings diversity to green orgs
Marcelo Bonta's Center for Diversity & the Environment works to bring people of color into the environmental movement.
The BLM's conservation experiment
The BLM's conservation experiment
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar tells the BLM to get serious about managing the National Landscape Conservation System.
California’s Tangled Water Politics
California’s Tangled Water Politics
Will there ever be enough water in California's Bay Delta to satisfy farmers, keep fish alive and quench the thirst of millions of people?
Ocelots in Arizona?
Ocelots in Arizona?
The first confirmed ocelot sighting in Arizona in 50 years spurs an update of a federal recovery plan.
Oil and Water Don't Mix with California Agriculture
Oil and Water Don't Mix with California Agriculture
In Kern County, Calif., the oil industry shares land and water with fruit-growers and farmers -- not always comfortably.
Farming's Toxic Legacy
Farming's Toxic Legacy
Long-banned pesticides linger in the soils of neighborhoods built on former agricultural land in central Washington.
Debating Preservation in the Southwest's Spanish Missions
Debating Preservation in the Southwest's Spanish Missions
Archaeologists debate how best to preserve Arizona's crumbling missions – and sometimes ask if it’s time to let them die.
The supposedly protected Wyoming Range faces new energy development
The supposedly protected Wyoming Range faces new energy development
Roughnecks and hunters are fighting plans to drill for natural gas in the Hoback-Noble Basin of the Wyoming Range.
Western Climate Initiative moves forward, smaller than imagined
Western Climate Initiative moves forward, smaller than imagined
Cap and trade is dead in Washington, D.C., but a few states are hoping to limit emissions through the Western Climate Initiative.
Housing keeps getting tighter all the time
Housing keeps getting tighter all the time
In many Western tourist towns, locals can't afford to buy houses, even as trailers and other affordable dwellings are evicted or banned outright.
A divine business
A divine business
In Bozeman, Mont., 78-year-old Vern Bandy says he finds water using the legendary art of dowsing.
Hardrock Mining Showdown
Hardrock Mining Showdown
In southern Arizona, the Forest Service is debating whether to defy the 1872 Mining Law and stop a controversial copper mine.
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.
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