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
  • GUIDE TO WESTERN NATIONAL MONUMENTS
    NEW BOOK showcases 70 national monuments across the western United States. Use "Guide10" for 10% off at cmcpress.org
  • CARBON RANCH PLANNER
    The Quivira Coalition (www.quiviracoaltion.org) is a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic, and social health through education,...
  • EDUCATION AND OUTREACH DIRECTOR
    Education and Outreach Program Director The Quivira Coalition (www.quiviracoaltion.org) is a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic,...
  • WESTERN DIVISION DIRECTOR OF FIELD PROGRAMS
    DEADLINE TO APPLY: October 29, 2021 LOCATION FLEXIBLE (WESTERN HUB CITY PREFERRED) Overview The Land Trust Alliance is the voice of the land trust community....
  • COMMUNICATIONS AND OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Communications and Outreach Associate Position Opening: www.westernlaw.org/communications-outreach-associate ************************************************* Location: Western U.S., ideally in one of WELC's existing office locations (Santa Fe or Taos, NM, Helena,...
  • FREELANCE GRAPHIC DESIGNER & PROJECT COORDINATOR (REMOTE)
    High Country News (HCN) is seeking a contract Graphic Designer & Project Coordinator to design promotional, marketing and fund-raising assets and campaigns, and project-manage them...
  • FILM AND DIGITAL MEDIA: ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF INDIGENOUS MEDIA, CULTURAL SOVEREIGNTY AND DECOLONIZATION (INITIAL REVIEW 12.1.21)
    Film and Digital Media: Assistant Professor of Indigenous Media, Cultural Sovereignty and Decolonization (Initial Review 12.1.21) Position overview Position title: Assistant Professor - tenure-track Salary...
  • REAL ESTATE SPECIALIST
    To learn more about this position and to apply please go to the following URL.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    "More Data, Less Digging" Find groundwater and reduce excavation costs!
  • RARE CHIRICAHUA RIPARIAN LAND FOR SALE
    40 acres: 110 miles from Tucson: native trees, grasses: birder's heaven::dark sky/ borders state lease & National forest/5100 ft/13-16 per annum rain
  • CENTRAL PARK CULTURAL RESOURCE SPECIALIST
    Agency: Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Salary Range: $5,203 - $7,996 Position Title: Central Park Cultural Resource Specialist Do you have a background in Archaeology...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    Come live and work in one of the most beautiful places in the world! As our Staff Attorney you will play a key role in...
  • ARIZONA GRAZING CLEARINGHOUSE
    Dedicated to preventing the ecological degradation caused by livestock grazing on Arizona's public lands, and exposing the government subsidies that support it.
  • OPERATIONS MANAGER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo (friendsoftheinyo.org) is seeking a new Operations Manager. The Operations Manager position is a full-time permanent position that reports directly...
  • WATER RIGHTS BUREAU CHIEF
    Water Rights Bureau Chief, State of Montana, DNRC, Water Resources Division, Helena, MT Working to support and implement the Department's mission to help ensure that...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Amargosa Conservancy (AC), a conservation nonprofit dedicated to standing up for water and biodiversity in the Death Valley region, seeks an executive director to...
  • DEVELOPMENT & OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Southeast Alaska Conservation Council is hiring! Who We Are: The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC) is a small grassroots nonprofit based out of Juneau, Alaska,...
  • DESERT LANDS ORGANIZER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo seeks a Desert Lands Organizer to assist with existing campaigns that will defend lands in the California desert, with...
  • IDAHO CONSERVATION LEAGUE
    Want to help preserve Idaho's land, water, and air for future generations? Idaho Conservation League currently has 3 open positions. We are looking for a...
  • LUNATEC ODOR-FREE DISHCLOTHS
    are a must try. They stay odor-free, dry fast, are durable and don't require machine washing. Try today.