Solace in wild spaces

 

The weekend before the presidential election, I went into the Raggeds Wilderness, a few hours outside of Paonia, Colorado, hoping to fill my elk tag. I sat shivering on a ridge in the predawn dark, watching the stars of Orion wheel over mountains some 70 million years old. Then, as light broke across an aspen grove half a mile away, came the faint chirping of cow elk and the soft bugle of a bull. Through binoculars, I watched the elk drift out of the timber like ghosts, heading to a well-watered meadow beyond the trees. In that moment, I felt myself a part of something whole and beautiful — billions of years in the making, perfect in every detail: me, the cold, the elk, the mountains, the dawn.

Then the election happened, and I found myself the citizen of a country where at least 60 million people, for one reason or another, cast their vote for a man whose campaign was built on ignorance, intolerance and lies. What that means will be debated for years to come, but given the uptick in hate crimes, publicly displayed swastikas and brazen slurs by emboldened racists, I suspect our country is in for some rough years. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Donald Trump will surprise us and try to build a society of tolerance and prosperity and happiness.

But until that happens, you can expect High Country News to keep up thorough reporting on an administration apparently hostile to environmental protections and regulations, skeptical of climate change, and in favor of unfettered extraction of public-land resources. Or so it seems. It’s hard to tell, given the number of contradictory statements we’ve heard this campaign. In any case, we’ll find out.

Managing editor Brian Calvert

In the meantime, let us not lose sight of the big picture. The value of the West remains its wide-open spaces, its vast public lands, and its rich natural and cultural resources. In places like the Raggeds, we find solace, as well as common values across cultural and political divides. And so this issue features both news and perspective. In our cover story, Kate Schimel, the magazine’s digital editor, visits a scarred and tangled wilderness, asking what it means to love such a place. Correspondent Sarah Tory takes us to the Bonneville Salt Flats, where a piece of Americana, 12,000 years in the making, is crumbling away. Essayist Peter Friederici and photographer Peter Goin examine our complicity, via Glen Canyon, in the realities of climate change. And Contributing Editor Jonathan Thompson asks what presidential policy can actually do in the face of a global energy market.

We must continue to explore these and other fundamental questions, even as we face a new political reality. For the years ahead will test our values, and our willingness to defend them, as never before.

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.