Feature stories

‘None of this happened the way you think it did’
‘None of this happened the way you think it did’
For years, the clients of a Colorado funeral home kept their loved ones’ cremated remains. Then the FBI called.
Where water is life, many on the Pine Ridge Reservation go thirsty
Where water is life, many on the Pine Ridge Reservation go thirsty
A pipeline’s promise is fulfilled for white ranchers while tribal communities are left waiting.
The transformation of a centuries-old refuge in New Mexico
The transformation of a centuries-old refuge in New Mexico
With 300,000 visitors every year, how can Chimayó’s history be preserved?
Browse High Country News feature stories
Thinking Past the Moment
Thinking Past the Moment
The Sierra Club's Carl Zichella discusses the balancing act involved in finding the best -- and least environmentally sensitive -- places to put big renewable energy projects
Growing Away from Big Coal
Growing Away from Big Coal
In Colorado and New Mexico, some rural electric cooperatives are quietly fighting to get more of their power from local and renewable sources.
Modern-day La Mancha
Modern-day La Mancha
Are wind-turbine-fighting environmentalists re-enacting Don Quixote's crusade against windmills -- while ignoring the real monster of climate change?
Let's Get Small
Let's Get Small
Can 'hamster power' -- distributed generation and small-scale renewable energy projects -- save the West, and the world?
Natural comfort
Natural comfort
It seems romantic to die alone in the wild, until you begin to lose the people you love
Rise up swinging
Rise up swinging
Twenty-year-old Duran “Junior” Caferro wants to be a good father, encourage healthcare reform – and knock down whoever comes up against him in the boxing ring.
Rebooting Urban Watersheds
Rebooting Urban Watersheds
In California, grassroots activists work to restore damaged East Bay waterways and the impoverished communities that surround them.
California prepares for the next burn
California prepares for the next burn
Public officials – and even homeowners – are beginning to accept the inevitability of wildfires in the Golden State.
States rev up ORV rules
States rev up ORV rules
While federal public-land agencies dither, some Western states are cracking down on off-road vehicle problems.
Voyage of the Dammed
Voyage of the Dammed
A small band of enthusiasts wants to re-engineer Western waterways with the help of a humble, hardworking professional: the beaver.
Time to breathe
Time to breathe
Stargazing and geology satisfy the spiritual needs of a Utah writer and teacher.
Paddling toward shore
Paddling toward shore
The Suquamish Tribe is resurrecting the old ways of Northwestern Indians – particularly their traditional canoe journeys – to improve the health of its young people.
Bring in the cows
Bring in the cows
Ecological consultant Stuart Weiss believes that carefully managed grazing could help save a rare California butterfly from extinction.
Science under glass
Science under glass
Researchers are using Arizona’s Biosphere 2 to study how plant communities affect the movement of water.
Sci-fi conservation
Sci-fi conservation
Enviros create force-fields around national parks. Also: Recovery Act funds are coming to BLM lands in the Western states.
The Rise of the Minotaur
The Rise of the Minotaur
Bull riding explodes from its rural Western roots to become a modern spectacle along the lines of NASCAR.
Schmear campaign
Schmear campaign
How do you find a really good bagel in a place like Missoula, Mont.?
High Noon
High Noon
Environmentalists are arguing passionately over large-scale solar development on California's Mojave Desert.
From grass to grains
From grass to grains
The local food growers in Oregon’s Southern Willamette Valley Bean and Grain Project see a unique opportunity in today’s economic crisis.
Busted in Rio Blanco
Busted in Rio Blanco
Rio Blanco County, Colo., which was just recently buzzing with oil and gas development, now faces an unexpected slowdown as the national economy tanks.
Salmon Salvation
Salmon Salvation
Obama’s new political order, backed by the legal acumen of Judge James Redden, may help the Northwest’s salmon survive and end the era of the Lower Snake River dams.
Chill, baby, chill
Chill, baby, chill
The largest drilling boom in Western history is ending as new technologies make it easier to get shale gas from other parts of the country.
Got warriors?
Got warriors?
On Wyoming’s Wind River Reservation, Stanford Addison – a quadriplegic Northern Arapaho horse gentler – helps Indian boys through their difficult teenage years.
The Growth Machine is Broken
The Growth Machine is Broken
Phoenix land-use planners want to use a chunk of state trust land as a laboratory for future, more sustainable real estate development.
Surprise!
Surprise!
Surprise, Ariz., exemplifies the Arizona real estate collapse along with what many see as the rise and fall of the car-dependent Western exurb.
Coming to blows
Coming to blows
Tribal infighting is delaying a wind farm planned for Gray Mountain on the Navajo Reservation.
Champions go both ways
Champions go both ways
The Obama administration appoints environmentalists to some important positions in the Interior Department and other agencies. Also: The West faces a growing shortage of food-supply animal veterinarians.
Why I ride the Greyhound
Why I ride the Greyhound
Every passenger aboard a bus becomes a citizen of the world, contemplating the Western landscape as it passes by.
Conservation or cop-out?
Conservation or cop-out?
A lack of participation could scuttle voluntary conservation agreements designed to protect species like New Mexico’s lesser prairie chickens and sand dune lizards.
Columbia Basin (Political) Science
Columbia Basin (Political) Science
Some fisheries scientists and environmentalists say the Bonneville Power Administration has had an unhealthy influence on salmon research in the Northwest.
Last rites and forgotten landscapes
Last rites and forgotten landscapes
The 12 young women whose bones were found on Albuquerque’s West Mesa led lives as unvalued as the sagebrush landscape that held their murdered bodies.
Go Sell It On The Mountain
Go Sell It On The Mountain
For 30 years, local environmentalists have been fighting with Crested Butte’s owners over a proposed controversial expansion of the ski resort.
The desert that breaks Annie Proulx’s heart
The desert that breaks Annie Proulx’s heart
Writer Annie Proulx takes an unsentimental view of Wyoming’s little-known and somewhat scarred Red Desert.
Environmentalists must learn to compromise
Environmentalists must learn to compromise
Environmentalists opposed to desalination plants are indulging in wishful thinking, because conservation is not enough to provide the arid West with water during a drought.
2017 is just around the corner
2017 is just around the corner
Salmon could well be extinct by 2017, and yet Judge James Redden appears to be the only one contemplating the obvious solution: removing four fish-killing dams on the Lower Snake River.
The Universe on Blacktop
The Universe on Blacktop
A Colorado family finds satisfaction -- and cash -- in scavenging metal for recycling.
Tarp Nation
Tarp Nation
Throughout the West, tent cities and shantytowns with names like Taco Flat have sprung up to house the poor and dispossessed.
INNOVATE, Part III
INNOVATE, Part III
Westerners have a knack for new and innovative thinking, such as: Redefining rancher politics, A rediscovered renewable, Creating public nooks and crannies and more.
INNOVATE, Part II
INNOVATE, Part II
Westerners have a knack for new and innovative thinking: Green detective, Healthcare for the hard up, Developing to stop development, Low carbon brews and more.
INNOVATE, Part I
INNOVATE, Part I
Westerners have a knack for new and innovative thinking, as this special issue of HCN shows.
A desert poet takes his work inside
A desert poet takes his work inside
Poet Richard Shelton has run writing workshops in Arizona prisons for more than 30 years.
Closing in
Closing in
One of the greatest challenges facing Western military bases comes from the growth of urban sprawl.
Crown of horns
Crown of horns
Unexpected encounters with an injured bull elk and a couple of teenage boys lead a writer to consider the meaning of fatherhood.
Security vs. sovereignty
Security vs. sovereignty
American Indians who use tribal I.D. cards face harassment when they try to cross the border between the U.S. and Canada.
True tests of 'Stay and Defend'
True tests of 'Stay and Defend'
Australia’s recent fires may have scorched “Stay and Defend,” a firefighting strategy American Westerners had thought of emulating. Also: Birds are shifting their winter range.
How low will it go?
How low will it go?
If Eric Kuhn is right about the Colorado River, then the state faces a dry and difficult future of fighting for water.
The call of the tame
The call of the tame
Jack London devoted much of his short life to what we would now call sustainable agriculture on his beloved Beauty Ranch in California.
Wind setbacks
Wind setbacks
Everyone wants alternative power in theory, but nobody wants to live next to giant wind turbines.
The struggle to remember the nuclear West
The struggle to remember the nuclear West
A writer tries to dig up the buried history of Colorado’s Rocky Flats weapons plant, now home to a controversial wildlife refuge.
No backup on the Northern border
No backup on the Northern border
Sheriff Donna Matoon and her 11 overworked deputies patrol Montana's Toole County and keep an eye on the Canadian border.
Canary in the old growth
Canary in the old growth
Public-land managers grapple with using indicator species to monitor the health of troubled ecosystems.
Justice for all
Justice for all
Jensie Anderson meets with homeless clients every Sunday underneath a Salt Lake City viaduct.
Carrying your own load
Carrying your own load
Sharon Levy’s friends, Kerby and Irene, lived off the grid in Northern California and taught her a lot about life.
Dust to dust
Dust to dust
The western Colorado town of Uravan no longer exists, but its history of radium and uranium mining lives on.
Non-navigable River Blues
Non-navigable River Blues
An obscure legal ruling muddied U.S. water-protection standards, leaving Western intermittent streams and rivers unprotected.
Political guns
Political guns
Every winter, Yellowstone park rangers risk their lives dynamiting avalanches so snowmobile tourists can get across Sylvan Pass.
All Aboard
All Aboard
American railroads -- especially passenger trains -- seem to be at last on the brink of a revival.
The West goes to Washington
The West goes to Washington
Barack Obama is bringing Westerners to Washington, including Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano to run Homeland Security, and Cabinet picks Ken Salazar, Hilda Solis and Steven Chu.
Audio: A BLM insider speaks
Audio: A BLM insider speaks
A former national recreation director talks about the pressures on government employees during the Bush administration.
Nonprofitable times
Nonprofitable times
Many conservation groups are feeling the pinch.
The missing puzzle piece
The missing puzzle piece
In southwestern Colorado’s Crow Canyon, archaeologists are working with Native Americans to solve the historical mysteries of the Four Corners area.
Digging deep
Digging deep
An innovative local program helps Hispanic heroin addicts recover by renewing their ties to the land.
Pillaging the Past
Craig Childs explores the fine line that separates archeology from grave-robbing in the American Southwest.
Flagstaff searches for its forests' future
In the wake of a huge forest fire, environmentalists seek consensus on how to restore to health the Coconino National Forest near Flagstaff, Arizona.
Disappearing railroad blues
The merger of the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific railroads creates a monopoly that may leave some of Colorado and Utah's working towns without rail transport for their coal.
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