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Democracy's Frayed Western Front
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October 1, 2020

As this highly anticipated election draws ever closer, High Country News takes a look at how the campaign season has been affecting parts of the West. Portland, Oregon’s political landscape was rocked when federal troops brought tear gas to the #BlackLivesMatter protests, but it’s anyone’s guess how, or whether, the turmoil will affect the upcoming mayoral election. In Nevada, young canvassers are working to get out the Latino vote, while a decades-long battle over the Las Vegas Pipeline finally comes to a peaceful conclusion. Our feature story from Grand Junction, Colorado, the new headquarters of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, considers how the presidential candidates’ competing energy goals will impact the West’s economy and public lands. Elsewhere, we examine census data showing how rural counties benefit from counting incarcerated individuals in the counties where they’re imprisoned instead of the ones where their homes are located. In Indian Country, the disrupted census count is likely to leave tribal nations underrepresented and underfunded, while in Alaska, 11 tribes are pushing for a better environmental consultation process. Finally, we review Ruthie Fear, a new novel that confronts gentrification in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley, and White Utopias, a nonfiction book about cultural appropriation at festivals like Burning Man.

Feature

Energy dominance or climate action: Trump, Biden and the fate of public lands
Energy dominance or climate action: Trump, Biden and the fate of public lands
In Grand Junction, Colorado, the presidential election is a choice between two distinct energy futures.

Reportage

Killing the Vegas Pipeline
Killing the Vegas Pipeline
Nevada’s attitude toward water is changing.
Will Portland’s summer of unrest reshape city politics?
Will Portland’s summer of unrest reshape city politics?
November’s election will test how protests shift political power.
Former California prisoners may become professional wildfire fighters
Former California prisoners may become professional wildfire fighters
Amid a raging fire season and pandemic, the Western U.S. seeks experienced fire crews to battle its conflagrations.
An inaccurate census has major implications for Indian Country
An inaccurate census has major implications for Indian Country
Indigenous people are frequently undercounted, undermining political power and representation.
Eleven Alaska Native tribes offer new way forward on managing the Tongass
Eleven Alaska Native tribes offer new way forward on managing the Tongass
The proposal comes after a failed consultation process of ‘one way communication’ over the Tongass National Forest.
Young and politically empowered in Arizona
Young and politically empowered in Arizona
Latino canvassers push to get out the vote.
What sewage can tell us about the spread of COVID-19
What sewage can tell us about the spread of COVID-19
More cities are testing wastewater, but a poor federal response keeps efforts scattered.
Federal boots on city streets
Federal boots on city streets
With Congress gridlocked and courts restrained, public opinion confronts authoritarian tactics.

Editor's Note

Democracy is fraying in the West, too
Democracy is fraying in the West, too
Why your vote matters this election above all.

Facts & Figures

When ‘usual  residence’  is a prison
When ‘usual residence’ is a prison
Census method of counting prisoners distorts demographics.

Essays

When home is next to an oil refinery
When home is next to an oil refinery
All I knew about Wilmington, California, was poverty, so I long hid my connection to it.
COVID-era lessons from homeschool
COVID-era lessons from homeschool
Don’t be terrified. Be ready.

Conversation

Tribal nations face continued voter suppression
Tribal nations face continued voter suppression
A new book explains barriers at the ballot box.

Photo Essay

A turning point in Nevada
A turning point in Nevada
Lessons from the Sanders campaign.

Perspective

Sage advice
Sage advice
The ecological and ethical problems of ‘smudging.’

Review

In a small Montana town, there’s a thing with feathers. Hope? Not so much.
In a small Montana town, there’s a thing with feathers. Hope? Not so much.
Maxim Loskutoff’s debut novel explores the fraught history of the Bitterroot Valley.
Is spiritual growth possible without confronting whiteness?
Is spiritual growth possible without confronting whiteness?
In ‘White Utopias,’ cultural appropriation at festivals like Burning Man goes under the microscope.

Heard Around the West

App astray; mockingbirds avenged; junk shot
App astray; mockingbirds avenged; junk shot
Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.

Dear Friends

High Country News in the ’70s
High Country News in the ’70s
The HCN community reflects on the ‘Me Decade.’
HCN mourns the passing of Norman Harry
HCN mourns the passing of Norman Harry
Leader of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe was known for his lack of pretense.

Letters

High Country News Classifieds
  • GRAND CANYON DIRECTOR
    The Grand Canyon director, with the Grand Canyon manager, conservation director, and other staff, envisions, prioritizes, and implements strategies for the Grand Canyon Trust's work...
  • ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
    Great Old Broads for Wilderness seeks a part-time Administrative Assistant to support the organization's general operations. This includes phone and email communications, office correspondence and...
  • HISTORIC LODGE AND RESTAURANT - FULLY EQUIPPED
    Built in 1901, The Crazy Mountain Inn has 11 guest rooms in a town-center building on 7 city lots (.58 acres). The inn and restaurant...
  • ONE WILL: THREE WIVES
    by Edith Tarbescu. "One Will: Three Wives" is packed with a large array of interesting suspects, all of whom could be a murderer ... a...
  • PROGRAM DIRECTOR, SALAZAR CENTER FOR NORTH AMERICAN CONSERVATION
    The Program Director will oversee the programmatic initiatives of The Salazar Center, working closely with the Center's Director and staff to engage the world's leading...
  • WILDEARTH GUARDIANS - WILD PLACES PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Salary Range: $70,000-$80,000. Location: Denver, CO, Portland, OR, Seattle, WA, Missoula, MT or potentially elsewhere for the right person. Application Review: on a rolling basis....
  • RIVER EDUCATOR/GUIDE + TRIP LEADER
    Position Description: Full-time seasonal positions (mid-March through October) Organizational Background: Colorado Canyons Association (CCA) is a 10 year old nonprofit organization fostering community stewardship of...
  • BOOKKEEPER/ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
    Position Description: Part-time, year-round bookkeeping and administration position (12 - 16 hours/week) $16 - $18/hour DOE Organizational Background: Colorado Canyons Association (CCA) is a 10...
  • LAND STEWARD
    San Isabel Land Protection Trust seeks a full-time Land Steward to manage and oversee its conservation easement monitoring and stewardship program for 42,437 acres in...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Ventana Wilderness Alliance is seeking an experienced forward-facing public land conservation leader to serve as its Executive Director. The mission of the Ventana Wilderness Alliance...
  • COMMUNICATIONS AND DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    The Quivira Coalition (www.quiviracoaltion.org) is a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic, and social health through education,...
  • GRANT WRITER
    "We all love this place we call Montana. We believe that land and water and air are not ours to despoil, but ours to steward...
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    The Development Director is responsible for organizing and launching a coherent set of development activities to build support for the Natural History Institute's programs and...
  • WILDLIFE PROJECT COORDINATOR
    Founded in 1936, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF or Federation) is America's largest and most trusted grassroots conservation organization with 53 state/territorial affiliates and more...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Cinnabar Foundation helps protect and conserve water, wildlife and wild lands in Montana and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem by supporting organizations and people who...
  • TRUSTEE AND PHILANTHROPY RELATIONS MANGER,
    Come experience Work You Can Believe In! The Nature Conservancy in Alaska is seeking a Trustee and Philanthropy Relations Manager. This position is critical to...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AT FRIENDS OF CEDAR MESA
    -The Land, History, and People of the Bears Ears Region- The Bears Ears and Cedar Mesa region is one of the most beautiful, complex, diverse,...
  • CONSERVATION SPECIALIST
    Position will remain open until January 31, 2021 Join Our Team! The New Mexico Land Conservancy (NMLC) is a non-profit land trust organization dedicated to...
  • OLIVERBRANCH CONSULTING
    Non-Profit Management Professional specializing in Transitional Leadership, Strategic Collaborations, Communications and Grant Management/Writing.
  • GREAT VIEWS, SMALL FOOTPRINT
    Close to town but with a secluded feel, this eco-friendly home includes solar panels, a graywater reuse system, tankless hot water, solar tubes, and rainwater...