Available Digital-Editions of High Country News

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In The Graces of Grasses October 01, 2021

In The Graces of Grasses

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In this issue, Westerners struggle to cope with the effects of our nation’s politics and policies. Our feature story delves into how right-wing extremists, responding to pandemic recommendations, are causing public health officers to step down across the West. Meanwhile, families who can’t afford skyrocketing rents are camping year-round on public land and often finding it’s not easy. The sparks are flying between utility equipment and climate change. But there’s also good news: Oregon families are rebuilding houses — and lives — after last year’s fires, while St. Johns, Arizona, decided its at-risk youth needed a youth center more than juvenile detention. In north-central Montana, Aaniiih and Nakoda youth reclaim their heritage by restoring the prairie, while elsewhere in the state, volunteers remove fences that impede migrating wildlife. Jason Asenap reflects on the need for more Indigenous critics to discuss Indigenous films and TV series, and a Washington writer wonders if nature can mend the growing political fractures in her tiny community.

Where Wolves May Tread September 01, 2021

Where Wolves May Tread

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In this issue, we examine rivers from several angles: as wildlife corridors, as water supplies, and as waterways that sustain cultures as well as fish. Our feature takes us down the Upper Green River, trying to track a wolf pack; Colorado officially welcomes the predators, but wolves coming from Wyoming struggle to find refuge. We shine a spotlight on the Klamath River Basin, where the Klamath Tribes struggle to save endangered c’waam and koptu. The bonds between the river and the Yurok people cannot be broken, though some wonder whether salmon will survive until the dams come down. Meanwhile, the river the whole Southwest depends on — the Colorado — is rapidly disappearing. In other news, the Supreme Court makes voting harder for Indigenous people. We review Douglas Chadwick’s Four Fifths a Grizzly and Nawaaz Ahmed’s debut novel, Radiant Fugitives. And a young writer working for the Montana Conservation Corps learns that you don’t need to fall in love with a landscape in order to take good care of it.

A Mega-Dairy Comes to the Desert August 01, 2021

A Mega-Dairy Comes to the Desert

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Water, climate, habitat and humanity mingle in our August issue. The feature examines a Minnesota-based mega-dairy’s impacts on rural southeast Arizona, a region already suffering from a shrinking aquifer. In Washington, dams may doom the Skagit River’s imperiled salmon, unless a local tribe convinces regulators to remove them. In Montana, the Apsáalooke (Crow) Nation wants to restore the polluted Little Bighorn River, while in Alaska’s Yukon Flats, tribes worry about water and wildlife when a company with a history of environmental violations begins exploring for oil. Humans need habitat, too, and Tucson, Arizona, hopes to ease the housing crisis by building accessory dwelling units. This month’s Facts and Figures untangles the relationship between heat, drought and the power grid. We preview a breakthrough Indigenous TV series, “Reservation Dogs,” and review Alexandra Kleeman’s neo-noir climate thriller, “Something New Under the Sun.” Finally, we include Tope Folarin’s thoughtful essay about how his childhood memories encouraged his family’s tentative return to the outside world, post-COVID-19.

An Urban Greenspace Revolution July 01, 2021

An Urban Greenspace Revolution

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In our July feature Correspondent Leah Sottile shows how good plans go awry with her feature on how a locally supported rails-to-trails project in Yamhill County, Oregon, got derailed by politics. In Arizona, landscapes sacred to Indigenous people are sacrificed to mine valuable minerals. In California, a rural community has waited years for safe drinking water, while farther north, the drought-stricken Klamath River’s salmon are dying for lack of water. Meanwhile, lockdown-weary Americans are overusing — and often abusing — Western parks and public lands. But it’s not all bad news: Stella Kalinina’s photographs reveal industrial sites being turned into public green spaces. We also interview two women who organize farmworkers, and review “Fireline,” a podcast that takes a fresh take at wildfire, and a book, Lisa Wells’ “Believers,” about people determined to live good lives despite the reality of the climate crisis.

Once and Future Fires June 01, 2021

Once and Future Fires

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This month, we look at how Westerners cope with wildfires: In Idaho, small towns clash with the Forest Service over how to manage the forest, while in Oregon, people left homeless by fires find refuge in a Medford hotel. Alaska Natives respond to food insecurity by building biomass-fueled greenhouses, and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes announce a plan concerning the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous people. Water remains a perennial problem: Phoenix, Arizona, is outgrowing its supply, while California’s new groundwater sustainability act is getting off to a troubled start. Asian Americans flock to gun shops after recent attacks, Montana activists continue to fight for racial justice, and cannabis growers use more energy than you’d expect. Finally, we talk to Michelle Nijhuis about her new book and review two other intriguing volumes — “Red Nation Rising” and “Finding the Mother Tree.”

Beauty and Biodiversity in the Borderlands May 01, 2021

Beauty and Biodiversity in the Borderlands

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The May issue takes us into little-known landscapes, from the Atascosa Highlands of Arizona, where a photographer and an ecologist are documenting biodiversity, to the concrete channels of the Los Angeles River, where people who lack housing fish and attempt to get by. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, a Chicano community wants an urban wildlife refuge to remain a haven for locals, while in Denver, second-graders say wolf reintroduction will be nothing short of “amaaaazing!” We provide some background to the “firearms frenzy” in the West, and an incarcerated person in San Quentin, California, describes his experience with overcrowding and COVID-19. Prominent U.S. institutions are finally acknowledging how much they profited from Indigenous lands, but fine words alone won’t undo the damage. Meanwhile, the descendants of enslaved people still fight for a place in the Cherokee Nation. We review Going to Trinidad by Martin J. Smith, the story of a pioneering Colorado surgeon and his transgender patients, and talk to geographer Diana Livermore about her pursuit of climate justice. And we check out the quirkier side of the region in our regular Heard around the West column.

Holding Fast April 01, 2021

Holding Fast

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In this issue, we bring you not one but two feature stories: The first dives into the Chinook Nation’s century-long battle for federal recognition, while the second looks at how a proposed land exchange in McCall, Idaho, pushed the locals to seek new ways to preserve public access. In reportage, we learn how Colorado gets stuck with the cleanup bill when energy companies abandon old oil and gas wells. The Biden administration faces major decisions on issues affecting tribal lands and water, and a new report focuses on internet infrastructure in Indian Country. With traditional sources of conservation funding dwindling, we ponder a difficult question: Who should pay to preserve the West’s land and wildlife? Elsewhere, we discuss Montana’s new anti-trans legislation and delve into the shadowy history of Albuquerque’s racist housing market. Our “Facts and Figures” department explains how the West’s unusually deadly avalanche season is, ironically, largely due to the region’s low snowfall. We talk to Kathy Reed, who hopes to carry on the legacy of Alma Smith Jacobs, Montana’s first Black librarian, and we review two promising debut novels, along with a thriller by a young Indigenous filmmaker. Finally, in “Heard around the West,” we learn that mountain lions don’t belong in basements, and that it’s not necessarily a good idea to invite large wildlife to a big backyard buffet.

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