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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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