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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.
11 Alaska Native tribes offer new way forward on managing the Tongass
11 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
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    "Goodnight Fossil Fuels!" is a an engaging, beautiful, factual and somewhat silly picture book by a climate scientist and a climate artist, both based in...
  • DIGITAL ADVOCACY & MEMBERSHIP MANAGER
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  • DIGITAL OUTREACH COORDINATOR, ARIZONA
    Job Title: Digital Outreach Coordinator, Arizona Position Location: Phoenix or Tucson, AZ Status: Salaried Job ID Number: 52198 We are looking for you! We are...
  • DESCHUTES LAND TRUST VOLUNTEER PROGRAM MANAGER
    The Deschutes Land Trust is seeking an experienced Volunteer Program Manager to join its dedicated team! Deschutes Land Trust conserves and cares for the lands...
  • ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
    The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming seeks an experienced fundraiser to join our team. We're looking for a great communicator who is passionate about conservation and...
  • INDIAN COUNTRY FELLOWSHIP
    Western Leaders Network is accepting applications for its paid, part-time, 6-month fellowship. Mentorship, training, and engaging tribal leaders in advancing conservation initiatives and climate policy....
  • MULESHOE RANCH PRESERVE MANAGER
    The Muleshoe Ranch Preserve Manager develops, manages, and advances conservation programs, plans and methods for large-scale geographic areas. The Muleshoe Ranch Cooperative Management Area (MRCMA)...
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    Assistant or Associate Professor of Environmental Humanities Whitman College The Environmental Humanities Program at Whitman College seeks candidates for a tenure-track position beginning August 2023...
  • ANNUAL FUND MANAGER
    Working closely with the Foundation's leadership, the Annual Fund Manager is responsible for the oversight and management of the Foundation's annual operating fund. This is...
  • DATABASE ADMINISTRATOR
    Looking for someone who loves public land and understands the value and importance of data in reaching shared goals as part of a high-functioning team....
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    High Country Conservation Advocates (HCCA) in Crested Butte, CO is seeking an enthusiastic Executive Director who is passionate about the public lands, natural waters and...
  • ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF VOLUNTEER PROGRAMS
    Are you passionate about connecting people to the outdoors? The Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) is looking for someone with volunteer management experience to join...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The conservation non-profit Invasive Species Action Network seeks an executive director. We are focused on preventing the human-caused spread of invasive species by promoting voluntary...
  • NEW BOOK: A FEAST OF ECSTATIC VERSE AND IMAGERY
    Dynamic fine art photographer offers use of images to raise funds. Available for use by conservation groups. Contact at www.anecstaticgathering.com.
  • WANTED: TALENTED WRITER
    Write the introduction to A Feast of Ecstatic Verse and Imagery, a book concerning nature and spirituality. Contact at www.anecstaticgathering.com. Writer who works for conservation/nature...
  • MT STATE DIRECTOR- THE WILDERNESS SOCIETY
    The Montana State Director is a member of The Wilderness Society's (TWS) Conservation program team who plays a leading role in advancing the organization's mission...
  • HIGH COUNTRY NEWS EDITORIAL INTERNS
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  • THE MAGICAL UNIVERSE OF THE ANCIENTS: A DESERT JOURNAL
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