Meanwhile, the West is in jeopardy

Amid political and cultural tumult, we are unprepared for the new reality of climate change.

 

In this issue of the magazine, we honor the life and work of Ed Marston, the longtime publisher of High Country News, who died in August from complications of West Nile virus. Needless to say, this has been a reflective few weeks for all of us. Ed, who retired from the magazine in 2002, had a powerful vision for the rural West, one that included both conservation and compromise, especially over the shared natural resources of the public lands.

Over the years, HCN has remained true to that vision — in part. But the magazine has also pushed into other facets of the West to tell its ongoing story. We, the editors and writers, have deliberately brought more voices into the conversation, especially from communities typically excluded from it. (Not everyone agrees with this approach, and this issue includes a letter from a reader who will no longer subscribe to HCN.)

The truth is, the West is more than ranchers and loggers and miners. It is more than recreationists and environmentalists — whatever that word means. It is a complicated, contradictory place, where militiamen prowl the southern borders and a grieving orca carries the corpse of her dead calf for 17 days. It is a rapidly urbanizing region of widening inequality, where real estate deals sever the poor from the natural world, even as red-tailed hawks circle the sky over elk, bear and the occasional hunter. The West produced people like Ursula K. Le Guin, a writer whose ecological warnings were woven into fantasy, science fiction and poetry. But it also produced the white supremacists indicted recently for their part in Charlottesville’s violent “Unite the Right” protests last year.

Editor-in-chief, Brian Calvert
Brooke Warren/High Country News

Meanwhile, the entire West is in jeopardy. Amid political and cultural tumult, the climate is changing, bringing a new reality we are unprepared for. This issue’s feature story, by Contributing Editor Ruxandra Guidi, describes a coastal town in Southern California that is asking whether it can, or should, retreat inland from the rising seas. The residents of Imperial Beach are not grappling with hypothetical abstraction; the tides are rising, the shores eroding. Also in this issue is an analysis of Trump administration rollbacks of policies meant to slow greenhouse gas emissions, and a story on the Navajo Nation’s attempts to rebuild a police force that honors tribal sovereignty.

These stories should be read together, holistically, bound by the idea that the ecological crises are inseparable from the problem of human domination — of the land and of each other. Ed Marston was right: The West deserves a vibrant rural landscape. But it deserves much more than that. We are honored to build, from Ed’s legacy, the vision of a thriving, inclusive American West, one equal to the challenges of our time.

Brian Calvert is High Country News' editor-in-chief. Email him at [email protected] or submit a letter to the editor.  

High Country News Classifieds
  • CAMPAIGN MANAGER
    Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA), a nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to protecting, defending and restoring Oregon's high desert, seeks a Campaign Manager to works as...
  • HECHO DEPUTY DIRECTOR
    Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors (HECHO) was created in 2013 to help fulfill our duty to conserve and protect our public lands for...
  • REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE, COLUMBIA CASCADES
    The Regional Representative serves as PCTA's primary staff on the ground along the trail working closely with staff, volunteers, and nonprofit and agency partners. This...
  • FINANCE AND OPERATIONS DIRECTOR
    The Montana Land Reliance (MLR) seeks a full-time Finance and Operations Director to manage the internal functions of MLR and its nonprofit affiliates. Key areas...
  • DIRECTOR OF CONSERVATION
    The Nature Conservancy is recruiting for a Director of Conservation. Provides strategic leadership and support for all of the Conservancy's conservation work in Arizona. The...
  • 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...
  • BIG BASIN SENIOR PROJECT PLANNER - CLIMATE ADAPTATION & RESILIENCE
    Parks California Big Basin Senior Project Planner - Climate Adaptation & Resilience ORGANIZATION BACKGROUND Parks California is a new organization working to ensure that our...
  • CUSTOMER SERVICE ASSISTANT - (PART-TIME)
    High Country News, an award-winning media organization covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks a part-time Customer Service Assistant, based at...
  • SCIENCE PROJECT MANAGER
    About Long Live the Kings (LLTK) Our mission is to restore wild salmon and steelhead and support sustainable fishing in the Pacific Northwest. Since 1986,...
  • HUMAN RESOURCES GENERALIST
    Honor the Earth is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate based on identity. Indigenous people, people of color, Two-Spirit or LGBTQA+ people,...
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    Colorado Trout Unlimited seeks an individual with successful development experience, strong interpersonal skills, and a deep commitment to coldwater conservation to serve as the organization's...
  • NEW BOOK BY AWARD-WINNING WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST, BRUCE SMITH
    In a perilous place at the roof of the world, an orphaned mountain goat is rescued from certain death by a mysterious raven.This middle-grade novel,...
  • DESCHUTES LAND TRUST VOLUNTEER PROGRAM MANAGER
    The Deschutes Land Trust is seeking an experienced Volunteer Program Manager to join its dedicated team! Deschutes Land Trust conserves and cares for the lands...
  • PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Now hiring a full-time, remote Program Director for the Society for Wilderness Stewardship! Come help us promote excellence in the professional practice of wilderness stewardship,...
  • WYOMING COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS COORDINATOR
    The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership is seeking Coordinator to implement public education and advocacy campaigns in the Cowboy State to unite and amplify hunter, angler,...
  • ASSISTANT TOWN ATTORNEY
    Town of Jackson, Wyoming, $66,700 - $88,000 DOQ, full benefits. Law Degree Required. Rental housing options available. For a complete job description and to apply,...
  • MOUNTAIN LOTS FOR SALE
    Multiple lots in gated community only 5 miles from Great Sand Dunes National Park. Seasonal flowing streams. Year round road maintenance.
  • RURAL ACREAGE OUTSIDE SILVER CITY, NM
    Country living just minutes from town! 20 acres with great views makes a perfect spot for your custom home. Nice oaks and juniper. Cassie Carver,...
  • A FIVE STAR FOREST SETTING WITH SECLUSION AND SEPARATENESS
    This home is for a discerning buyer in search of a forest setting of premier seclusion & separateness. Surrounded on all sides by USFS land...
  • CARPENTER WANTED
    CARPENTER WANTED. Come to Ketchikan and check out the Rainforest on the coast, HIke the shorelines, hug the big trees, watch deer in the muskeg...