Magazine
From Prison to Fireline
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August 5, 2019

In this issue, we take a closer look at one of the West’s harshest penal systems, where incarcerated wildfire fighters learn to see themselves anew. And we travel to Vado, New Mexico, where Borderland infrastructure challenges are a major setback. We delve into a labor trafficking case in Colorado and look at what coal’s free fall means for Wyoming. We interview New Mexico Rep. Xochitl Torres Small and explain the shortcomings in the Navy’s environmental review process. A writer takes us into the tyranny of landlords and their lawns, and we look at a fight over wolf management in Alaska, where lawmakers have learned how to undermine citizen-led initiatives. We review a debut story collection by author Kali Fajardo-Anstine and take a peek inside a pocket birding book’s makeover.

Feature

When Arizona catches fire, prisoners step up
When Arizona catches fire, prisoners step up
In one of the West’s harshest penal systems, incarcerated wildfire fighters learn to see themselves anew.
Who pays for infrastructure in Borderland colonias?
Who pays for infrastructure in Borderland colonias?
In places like Vado, New Mexico, good roads are hard to find.

Editor's Note

Where the incarceration and wildfire crises meet
Where the incarceration and wildfire crises meet
Prison firefighters are severely underpaid. And they’re the lucky ones.

Current

A family held their relatives captive; a community set them free
A family held their relatives captive; a community set them free
A labor trafficking case shows Westerners can sometimes still count on each other to protect those in need.
With coal in free fall, Wyoming faces an uncertain future
With coal in free fall, Wyoming faces an uncertain future
As demand shrinks and the industry retracts, counties and the state are in an untenable situation.
Rep. Xochitl Torres Small offers lessons in rural politics
Rep. Xochitl Torres Small offers lessons in rural politics
The Democratic congresswoman won a conservative region by talking about concerns all Westerners share.
Lawsuit filed against noisy flights over Olympic National Park
Lawsuit filed against noisy flights over Olympic National Park
Washington’s Attorney General points out shortcomings of the Navy’s environmental review.

Essays

The tyranny of lawns and landlords
The tyranny of lawns and landlords
Renting culture puts dreams of cultivating wildness out of reach.
See the journey to a new career at a wildland fire academy
See the journey to a new career at a wildland fire academy
Ex-gang members, veterans and immigrants alike take a three-month course to become California firefighters.

Book Reviews

The pocket birding book gets a makeover
The pocket birding book gets a makeover
Imaginatively spunky illustrations accompany avian anecdotes in BirdNote.
Grounding and grandmothers in a gentrifying Denver
Grounding and grandmothers in a gentrifying Denver
Denver author Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s rich debut story collection centers young female protagonists.

Perspective

How partisan politics can make ballot measures undemocratic
How partisan politics can make ballot measures undemocratic
A fight over wolf management in Alaska shows how lawmakers can undermine citizen-led initiatives.

Heard Around the West

Outdoor underachievers; mission massage; photo nots
Outdoor underachievers; mission massage; photo nots
Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.

Dear Friends

Accolades and some new roles
Accolades and some new roles
New interns and a fellow arrive, and our editorial staff continues to morph.

Letters

High Country News Classifieds
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    High Country News seeks an editor to oversee the work of our award-winning Indigenous Affairs Desk. This individual will lead a team of passionate journalists...
  • HIKING TO THE EDGE:
    Confronting Cancer in Rocky Mountain National Park. Poetry and photos on survival thinking. E-book and paperback available at Amazon.com.
  • OPERATIONS MANAGER
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    A LITTLE ABOUT US Founded in 1951, the Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all...
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    Future West seeks an executive director to lead this dynamic organization into the future. Based in Bozeman, MT this well-respected nonprofit provides communities in the...
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    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,...
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    Since 1989, The Nature Conservancy in Alaska has been doing work you can believe in protecting the lands and waters that all life depends on....
  • OUTDOOR PROGRAM - ASSISTANT DIRECTOR
    St. Lawrence University seeks to fill the position of Assistant Director in the Outdoor Program. To view the complete position description, including minimum qualifications required,...
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    Grand Staircase Escalante Partners is seeking a full-time Director of Development & Marketing. This is a senior position responsible for the development of all marketing...
  • LEGAL DIRECTOR
    The Legal Director will work closely with the Executive Director in cultivating a renewed vision at NMELC that integrates diversity, equity, and justice. Black, Indigenous,...
  • VICE PRESIDENT, LANDSCAPE CONSERVATION
    The Vice President for Landscape Conservation leads Defenders' work to promote landscape-scale wildlife conservation, focusing on four program areas: federal public lands management; private lands...
  • NOVA SCOTIA OCEAN FRONT
    Camp or Build on 2+ acres in Guysborough. FSBO. $36,000 US firm. Laurie's phone: 585-226-2993 EST.
  • COMMUNITY FORESTER
    The Clearwater Resource Council located in Seeley Lake, Montana is seeking a full-time community forester with experience in both fuels mitigation and landscape restoration. Resumes...
  • GUNNISON BASIN ROUNDTABLE
    The Gunnison Basin Roundtable is currently accepting letters of interest for ten elected seats. Five of the elected members must have relevant experience in the...
  • PCTA TRAIL CREW TECHNICAL ADVISORS IN WASHINGTON'S NORTH CASCADES
    Seasonal Positions: June 17th to September 16th (14 weeks) - 3 positions to be filled The mission of the Pacific Crest Trail Association is to...
  • WE'RE LOOKING FOR LEADERS!
    As we celebrate 50 years of great Western journalism, High Country News is looking for a few new board members to help set a course...
  • WIND RIVER WRITERS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS RETREAT BY THE NATIONAL BIGHORN SHEEP CENTER
    Enhance your writing or photography skills with world-class instructors in the beautiful Wind River Mountains. All skill levels welcome. Continuing education credits available.