HCN renews its commitment to covering the West’s complexities

We debut a new design as we celebrate our 50th anniversary.


With the new year comes a new look for High Country News! We’re pleased to offer you the first issue of our revamped magazine, in which you’ll find the rich and nuanced reporting and analysis you’ve come to expect from us, now bolstered by a reimagined design and new vision for the future. Our editor-in-chief explains the issue’s new features on page 25.

A white-tailed buck is backlit by headlights moments before it dashes across rush-hour traffic on Hillview Way in Missoula, Montana. Deer are frequently hit along this busy street as it bisects two islands of open space amid growing neighborhoods.
Paul Queneau
One thing that hasn’t changed is our commitment to exploring the deep tensions that crisscross the West like so many roads. In this issue’s cover story, that metaphor becomes a reality, as a fight over how best to help elk, deer and other wildlife cross a stretch of highway in Idaho opens big questions on land management.

As writer Ben Goldfarb details, wildlife crossings have become a popular way to keep car-creature collisions in check and allow animals to travel through landscapes otherwise fractured by pavement. But a plan to build three such bridges over Targhee Pass, at the edge of Island Park, Idaho, ran into a different kind of fault line: a distrust of outsiders and a desire to exact local control over public lands.

In Island Park, different groups of people connected the same dots in vastly different ways, at times drawing connections that, to others, veered into absurdity. Tracing how they came to those conclusions won’t lead to agreement, of course, but it might lead to a deeper understanding of — and empathy for — the myriad individuals who call the West home.

Emily Benson, associate editor
Brooke Warren/High Country News
Elsewhere in this issue, we interview United Farm Workers Secretary Treasurer Armando Elenes on the importance of union organizing and compromise. We also review the film The Incredible 25th Year of Mitzi Bearclaw, an entertaining coming-of-age story centered on a young Indigenous woman in Canada, and check in on the promise of one of our nation’s bedrock environmental laws, the National Environmental Policy Act, on the occasion of its 50th anniversary.

High Country News is celebrating the very same milestone this year. And five decades of chronicling the complexities of the American West have left us with one conclusion: From the highways of Idaho to the fields of California, there are always more stories to be told from this fascinating place. 

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