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.
Browse High Country News feature stories
Socialism and the West
Socialism and the West
Despite our reflexive fear of the word "socialism," the West was built on subsidized government efforts.
Watts of water
Watts of water
Not all environmentalists believe that pumped hydroelectric storage projects are a good way to achieve more renewable energy.
Death by a thousand wells
Death by a thousand wells
Unregulated domestic wells are straining water supplies in Washington’s Yakima Valley and throughout the West.
A guide to the past -- and the future
A guide to the past -- and the future
The WPA Guide to 1930s Montana has become the author's favorite guidebook.
Water across the Divide
Water across the Divide
In 2003, Colorado's Grand Ditch was breached, causing flood damage to the Upper Colorado River and to Rocky Mountain National Park.
Audubon feathers fly in Arizona
Audubon feathers fly in Arizona
A controversial proposed land swap reveals the growing rift between Maricopa Audubon and a new and wealthier rival -- Audubon Arizona.
Empty nest
Empty nest
Making a case for the California condor's return to the Northwest
Biotech beet-down
Biotech beet-down
That candy bar you're eating may have been made with genetically modified beets that were illegally approved.
Silenced Springs?
Silenced Springs?
Rare and tiny spring-dwelling creatures are threatened by everything from invasive species to Las Vegas' plan to pump groundwater from a rural part of Nevada.
Conservation for the Adrenaline Crowd
Conservation for the Adrenaline Crowd
Environmentalists in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado have struggled to get recreationists behind their causes.
When reverence isn't enough
When reverence isn't enough
Writer and philosopher Kathleen Dean Moore talks about water, family and the sacredness of landscapes.
Water and the National Parks
Water and the National Parks
National parks are good for a lot of things, including keeping water in rivers.
Bicycles, books and beer
Bicycles, books and beer
Todd Simmons founded a bookstore, a journal and a publishing company in Fort Collins, Colo., on little more than a shoestring and a dream.
Conservationists wrong to oppose wolf hunt
Conservationists wrong to oppose wolf hunt
Wolves have recovered, and it's time for more rational management, including carefully-regulated hunting.
The sky is a crowded attic
The sky is a crowded attic
Novelist Andrew Sean Greer talks about how the West’s vast landscapes transformed his life and his fiction.
Living on Glacial Time
Living on Glacial Time
Climate change is altering the lands we call home in ways we'd never imagined.
Books for lonely times
Books for lonely times
When you're camped all alone in the wilderness, there is nothing like a book to bring you comfort.
Timothy Egan's Western odyssey
Timothy Egan's Western odyssey
New York Times correspondent and National Book Award winner Timothy Egan talks about his enduring love for the West.
Coming home to the cosmos
Coming home to the cosmos
A wandering writer comes home to Utah after chasing meteorites around the world for years.
Township 13 South, Range 92 West, Section 35
Township 13 South, Range 92 West, Section 35
A writer looks into the history of the people who lived on the Colorado mesa she now calls home.
A new land grab
A new land grab
The Oglala Lakota are determined to reclaim both their land and cultural heritage.
Lawless future
Lawless future
State parks are facing a budget crisis all their own, especially in California.
Solar salvation?
Solar salvation?
Timber companies and unemployed workers are looking to renewable energy for an economic boost.
The new Third World
The new Third World
While some Americans fight over healthcare reform, others line up at dawn to receive free care at a temporary clinic in Los Angeles.
From Tuscany to the Mohave
From Tuscany to the Mohave
Guiseppena Bellandi Perry remembers the events -- and the husbands -- who brought her from her native Italy to the desert of Needles, Calif.
The dark side of dairies
The dark side of dairies
A combination of lax laws and poor oversight leaves dairy workers vulnerable to exploitation and on-the-job dangers.
The dictionary reader
The dictionary reader
What kind of person spends the whole summer stuck inside a cabin reading the dictionary?
Brushed aside
Brushed aside
On Washington's Olympic Peninsula, the once-lucrative floral greens industry is floundering as its immigrant workers face deportation.
From Corn to Cabernet
From Corn to Cabernet
A burgeoning wine industry could provide a welcome economic boost to Colorado's Western Slope.
Mission critical
Mission critical
With global warming threatening the planet, even environmentalists are looking more kindly at natural gas.
Cigarette wars
The late activist Alison Gottfriedson was one of many Indians who saw selling tax-free cigarettes as an act of Native sovereignty.
A slow-moving disaster
A slow-moving disaster
As bark beetles ravage Rocky Mountain forests, communities like Granby, Colo., have to adjust to a radically different landscape.
The bare bones of life
The bare bones of life
The rocky, remote landscapes of the Southwest have long served astronomers as a metaphor for the surfaces of other planets.
The same old Sen. Reid?
The same old Sen. Reid?
Year after year, Nevada Sen. Harry Reid has stood squarely in the path of every attempt to reform the 1872 Mining Law. Plus: The Energy Department wants to dump tons of deadly mercury, most likely in the West.
Revival or dam-nation?
Revival or dam-nation?
The push for alternative power could spawn a rush for small hydropower projects in the Northwest.
Nirvana on a backhoe
Nirvana on a backhoe
Kim Erion restores habitat using heavy equipment and a heartfelt connection to things like logs and rhododendrons.
The Most Cooked-Up Catch
The Most Cooked-Up Catch
Saving fisheries -- and taking the edge off the dangerous derby of the sea.
Wild Turkey, gunfire and big pipelines
Wild Turkey, gunfire and big pipelines
Aaron Million wants to build a gigantic water pipeline all the way from southwest Wyoming to Colorado's Front Range.
Retooling for the next mission
Retooling for the next mission
Iraq war veterans find a new life in Colorado, this time fighting for the environment with the help of Veterans Green Jobs.
A tenderfoot in Taos
A tenderfoot in Taos
An exhausted young mother, her lively new baby, and a compassionate drunkard have a brief but lovely encounter on the plaza in Taos, N.M.
Cultural blight
Cultural blight
The traditional lifestyles of several Northern California tribes are threatened by a pathogen that is killing off oak trees.
Taking control of the machine
Taking control of the machine
Loggers and environmental activists are determined to restore Montana's Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, with or without the help of the Forest Service.
The Hungry Intern: Dinner
The Hungry Intern: Dinner
The starving journalist is no longer starving, and he filled up on all local foods.
Northward
Northward
The unexpected loveliness of the song of the varied thrush reminds the author that the birds are on the move, driven by climate change.
The Hungry Intern: Lunch
The Hungry Intern: Lunch
Jeff's zany local food adventure continues with his second meal of the day.
The Renewable Energy Landscape
The Renewable Energy Landscape
Maps, charts and text locate the nation's major renewable energy resources and some big projects on Western public land.
Renewables: The Final Frontier
Renewables: The Final Frontier
Vaclav Smil is a historian who exemplifies Vulcan-style logic and skepticism when it comes to easy solutions to energy problems.
From Pickups to PV
From Pickups to PV
Utility brings solar power to far-flung Navajos
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.
High Country News Classifieds
  • 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...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    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...
  • FRIENDS OF CEDAR MESA DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    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...
  • WATER RIGHTS/ADJUDICATION BUREAU CHIEF
    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...
  • ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
    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,...
  • UNIQUE, ENERGY-EFFICIENT HOME ON ACREAGE NEAR MOSCOW, IDAHO
    Custom-built energy-efficient 3000 sqft two-story 3BR home, 900 sqft 1 BR accessory cottage above 2-car garage and large shop. Large horse barn. $1,200,000. See online...
  • OUTDOOR ADVENTURE BUSINESS FOR SALE
    Missoula Outdoor Learning Adventures (MOLA) - established and profitable outdoor adventure & education business in Missoula, Montana. Summer camp, raft & climb guide, teen travel,...
  • OJO SARCO FARM/HOME
    A wonderful country setting for a farm/work 1350s.f. frame home plus 1000 studio/workshop. 5 acres w fruit trees, an irrigation well, pasture and a small...
  • STEWARDSHIP COORDINATOR
    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
  • CONSERVATION SPECIALIST - LAND PROTECTION FOCUS
    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...
  • FOOD SYSTEMS ENVIRONMENTAL FELLOWSHIP
    If you were to design a sustainable society from the ground up, it would look nothing like the contemporary United States. But what would it...