Alaska ho!

 

Here at High Country News, we're even more charged up than usual: This issue has our first cover story exploring the rough terrain of Alaska's environmental politics.

The only other cover story we've devoted to Alaska analyzed Bering Sea crab fishing, in July 2009. You might wonder why a 41-year-old news operation focused on the American West has waited so long to deal with Alaska. After all, the nation's largest state shares essential characteristics with the parts of the West we typically focus on: Vast amounts of public land, relatively wild landscapes and ecosystems, charismatic wildlife -- and noisy, polarized environmental politics.

But HCN remains a small nonprofit operation, still evolving from our original focus on the Interior West. Over the years, we've expanded to the Pacific Northwest, then to California, occasionally to the High Plains and Canada and Mexico. Recently, we even ran a cover story set in Oklahoma, examining how that state's senators wield power over the West. Financial support from our readers and donors has now made it possible for HCN to make occasional forays into Alaska.

We're pleased to have recruited two talented writers to craft this cover package. Tracy Ross, a 2009 National Magazine Award winner, has traveled as far as Iran and Ecuador for the likes of Outside, Women's Sports Illustrated and Backpacker. Ross examines Alaska's concept of "abundance management" -- a two-edged term, referring both to the apparent abundance of game and to the large numbers of predators that prey on that game.

Alaskans have argued for decades over how to manage wildlife, and national environmental and animal-rights groups have often weighed in. When Sarah Palin was governor, from 2007 to 2009, she pushed hard to reduce the number of wolves and bears, aligning with hard-line hunting groups. But as Ross points out in her story, Alaska's aggressive predator killing began long before Palin entered politics.

Craig Medred, a longtime columnist for the Anchorage Daily News who now works for AlaskaDispatch.com, contributes an essay on the ironies of "abundance management." Alaska, he says, is actually a place of scarcity, and will never have an overall abundance of any wildlife species.

Of course, wildlife management battles also flare up elsewhere in the West; on page 3, HCN managing editor Jodi Peterson reports on some recent developments.

Year by year around the West, we're learning more about the complications of ecosystem management. The lessons acquired in Alaska can help to inform wildlife management everywhere else. But even the clearest scientific evidence is still subject to the power of political systems. That is one complication that never seems to go away.

High Country News Classifieds
  • NORTHERN NEW MEXICO PROJECT MANAGER
    Seeking qualified Northern New Mexico Project Manager to provide expertise, leadership and support to the organization by planning, cultivating, implementing and managing land conservation activities,...
  • REGIONAL TRAIL STEWARDSHIP COORDINATOR
    Are you passionate about connecting people to the outdoors? The Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) is looking for someone with trail maintenance and volunteer engagement...
  • TRAIL CREW MEMBER
    Position Title: Trail Crew Member Position Type: 6 month seasonal position, April 17-October 15, 2023 Location: Field-based; The RFOV office is in Carbondale, CO, and...
  • CEO BUFFALO NATIONS GRASSLANDS ALLIANCE
    Chief Executive Officer, Remote Exempt position for Buffalo Nations Grasslands Alliance is responsible for the planning and organization of BNGA's day-to-day operations
  • IDAHO DIRECTOR - WESTERN WATERSHEDS PROJECT
    Western Watersheds Project seeks an Idaho Director to continue and expand upon WWP's campaign to protect and restore public lands and wildlife in Idaho, with...
  • DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT, NA'AH ILLAHEE FUND
    Na'ah Illahee Fund (NIF) is seeking a highly qualified Development Director to join our team in supporting and furthering our mission. This position will create...
  • DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS, NA'AH ILLAHEE FUND
    Na'ah Illahee Fund (NIF) is seeking a highly qualified Operations Director to join our team. This position will provide critical organizational and systems support to...
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    Grand Staircase Escalante Partners (GSEP) is seeking a leader to join our dynamic team in the long-term protection of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM). We...
  • GRASSLAND RESEARCH COORDINATOR
    The Grassland Research Coordinator is a cooperative position with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that performs and participates in and coordinates data collection for...
  • HYDROELECTRIC PLANT
    1.3 MW FERC licensed hydroelectric station near Taylorsville CA. Property is 184 deeded acres surrounded by National Forrest.
  • "PROFILES IN COURAGE: STANDING AGAINST THE WYOMING WIND"
    13 stories of extraordinary courage including HCN founder Tom Bell, PRBRC director Lynn Dickey, Liz Cheney, People of Heart Mountain, the Wind River Indian Reservation...
  • GRANT WRITER
    JOB DESCRIPTION: This Work involves the responsibility of conducting research in the procurement of Federal, State, County, and private grant funding. Additional responsibilities include identifying...
  • MATADOR RANCH STEWARD
    The Matador Ranch Steward conducts annual stewardship projects at the Matador Ranch Preserve and occasionally supports stewardship projects elsewhere in Montana's Northern Great Plains. The...
  • COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT ASSISTANT
    The Idaho Conservation League is seeking a motivated individual to help build public support for key strategic initiatives in northern Idaho through public outreach and...
  • PROGRAM MANAGER
    Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness Foundation seeks a steward/educator to lead backcountry volunteer projects and community outreach. FT $36k-$40k, competitive time off. ALSO HIRING OPERATIONS MANAGER. More...
  • ASSISTANT RANCH OPERATIONS MANAGER
    WANTED: ASSISTANT RANCH OPERATIONS MANAGER ~ UTAH/COLORADO border ~ Looking to immediately hire an experienced and clean hardworker to join us on a beautiful, very...
  • ASPIRE COLORADO SUSTAINABLE BODY AND HOME CARE PRODUCTS
    Go Bulk! Go Natural! Our products are better for you and better for the environment. Say no to single-use plastic. Made in U.S.A., by a...
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Field seminars for adults in the natural and human history of the Colorado Plateau, with lodge and base camp options. Small groups, guest experts.
  • CORTEZ COLORADO LOT FOR SALE
    Historic tree-lined Montezuma Ave. Zoned Neighborhood Business. Build your dream house or business right in the heart of town. $74,000. Southwest Realty
  • ENVIRONMENTAL AND CONSTRUCTION GEOPHYSICS
    - We find groundwater, buried debris and assist with new construction projects for a fraction of drilling costs.