Making sense of the West

Why we’ve expanded our coverage beyond environmental issues.

 

There is an important debate unfolding in the pages of this magazine. I read it in your letters to the editor, in online social threads, and in the emails sent to me from readers far and wide. Broadly speaking, the debate involves our mission. Readers’ concerns vary, but they are generally tied to one of three things: our coverage of non-environmental or non-resource-related issues; our coverage of under-represented (or non-rural, non-white) communities; and our coverage of anything outside the Intermountain West. It’s a lively, and I think healthy, conversation, coming at a challenging time for journalism — amid a flurry of “fake news” and misinformation, mass layoffs and budget cuts, and growing threats to our democracy. Given all this, we need a magazine that makes sense of things. A lot of things.

The mission of High Country News is “to inform and inspire people — through in-depth journalism — to act on behalf of the West’s diverse natural and human communities.” It’s a broad mission, but an important one, and it forces HCN’s editors to constantly ask two big questions: What, exactly, is the American West, and what does it mean to act on its behalf? We ask these questions over and over, and sometimes they lead us to unexpected answers and unexpected stories.

We do this because no matter what you love about the West, this place has always been under threat from unethical forces — of greed, oppression, exploitation, or just plain carelessness. To counter these forces requires broad alliances of unlikely partners and a deep understanding of myriad issues. Climate change is tied to economic inequality, land conservation to environmental racism, energy to pollution, and on and on. The West is a vast web of competing values and interests, and we at High Country News seek to cover them all. We do this not from a sense of “political correctness,” as one letter-writer puts it in this issue, but because we believe our readers want to understand the West as a whole.

Brian Calvert, editor-in-chief
Brooke Warren/High Country News
In this issue, for example, you will read about how Chicano movements are beginning to embrace immigration as an issue relevant to their cause. You will also read stories about a major public-lands bill just passed in Congress; a water grab in Idaho; a crackdown on humanitarian aid along the southern border; and a Portland neighborhood that is already adopting the principles of the Green New Deal. Meanwhile, in Pinal County, Arizona, climate change is forcing some tough agricultural choices. We also discuss why environmental victories don’t guarantee economic justice, and we explore the surprising challenges faced by women of color who simply want to mountain bike on public lands. I believe each of these stories is important, and I hope you’ll find them informative or inspiring. It’s up to all of us to act on behalf of the West — however you define it.
High Country News Classifieds
  • SEASONAL SAN JUAN RANGERS
    Seeking experienced crew members to patrol Colorado's most iconic mountain wilderness.
  • ENDANGERED SPECIES STAFF SCIENTIST
    The Center for Biological Diversity seeks a staff scientist to advocate for the conservation of endangered species. General position overview: The position will involve working...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY - ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH PROGRAM
    The Center for Biological Diversity - a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection of imperiled plants, animals and wild places - seeks a dynamic...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    The Center for Biological Diversity seeks a Staff Attorney to join our team of attorneys, scientists, campaigners who are working to protect America's public lands...
  • SOUTHWEST CONSERVATION ADVOCATE
    The Center for Biological Diversity seeks a Southwest Conservation Advocate to join our team of attorneys, scientists and campaigners who are working to protect America's...
  • OCEANS PROGRAM CAMPAIGNER
    The Center for Biological Diversity seeks an experienced campaigner for its oceans program. The aim of the position is to campaign for the protection of...
  • CLIMATE LAW INSTITUTE ATTORNEY
    The Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute is looking to add an attorney to its team and will consider applicants at both staff attorney...
  • FULL-TIME CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR
    The Center for Biological Diversity seeks a full-time Campaign Director in our Climate Law Institute to join our campaign for progressive, urgent government action to...
  • WESTERN WATER PROJECT MANAGER
    National Wildlife Federation is hiring NM-based position focused on riparian corridors, watershed health. Learn more and apply online: https://www.nwf.org/about-us/careers
  • ASSOCIATE PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Position Title: Associate Program Director Location: New Mexico; flexible in state Position reports to: Senior Program Director Position Closes: March 13, 2020 GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The...
  • DEAN, W. A. FRANKE COLLEGE OF FORESTRY AND CONSERVATION, UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA
    Dean, W. A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation, apply http://bit.ly/2548umjobs. AA/EEO/ADA/Veterans Preference Employer
  • GRAPHIC DESIGNER
    Western Resource Advocates (WRA) seeks a creative and driven graphic design professional to design high quality print and digital collateral. The Graphic Designer will bring...
  • STEWARDSHIP SPECIALIST
    San Isabel Land Protection Trust seeks experienced person to manage its 133 conservation easements in south-central Colorado.
  • CAMPAIGN REPRESENTATIVE
    Sierra Club's Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign is hiring an experienced campaigner to lead our work challenging the oil and fracked gas industry on the Gulf...
  • AG LANDS PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Oregon Agricultural Trust (OAT) seeks passionate relationship builder experienced in coordinating agricultural conservation easement transactions.
  • REMOTE SITKA ALASKA FLOAT HOUSE VACATION RENTAL
    Vacation rental located in calm protected waters 8 miles from Sitka, AK via boat with opportunities to fish and view wildlife. Skiff rental also available.
  • FINANCE DIRECTOR
    Mountain Studies Inst (MSI) is hiring 4+ positions: Finance Director; Coms/Engagmnt Mngr; Dev/Engagmnt Dir; Americorps vol
  • COMMUNICATIONS AND ENGAGEMENT MANAGER
    Mountain Studies Inst (MSI) is hiring 4+ positions: Finance Director; Dev/Engagement Dir; Coms/Engagement Mngr; & Americorps volunteer
  • SEASONAL TRAIL CREW LEADERS
    Lead the nation's premier volunteer-based trail crew programs on the spectacular Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. This is a great career-building opportunity for rising professionals....
  • ORGANIZING AND TRAINING COORDINATOR
    Is this your dream job? Are you looking to join a nationally recognized organizing network, live in a spectacular part of the West, and work...