From billionaires to bankruptcies, the West is full of flashpoints

And we’re here to cover them all.

 

This month, the U.S. Justice Department will argue for a chance to retry Cliven Bundy and his supporters for their armed standoff with federal officers in 2014, following a mistrial two years ago. Lately, one of Cliven’s sons, Ammon, has been traveling around the West, looking for a place to spark another conflict, “an eager, strike-anywhere match,” as HCN Correspondent Leah Sottile writes. The Western United States is full of flashpoints, and in this issue we re-examine many of them.

Original Illustration by Sarah Gilman/HCN
In Colorado, a potential ballot measure to reintroduce wolves to the state could come to a vote in November. As biologist and essayist Ethan Linck writes, the decision over wolves will be informed by science but ultimately driven by the feelings of voters, calling into question the value of research in public decisions. In Washington, longtime contributor Sarah Gilman asks whether our fear of mountain lions is justified, reminding us that the Bureau of Land Management’s current acting director, former anti-fed lawyer William Pendley, once “accused cougar defenders of condoning ‘human sacrifice.’ ”

From Nevada, Editorial Fellow Kalen Goodluck reports on the Pyramid Lake Paiute’s reintroduction of bighorn sheep to tribal land from which the animal had been absent for nearly a century. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump, who has already derailed dozens of environmental protections, is now targeting one of the nation’s most important laws, the National Environmental Policy Act.

Brian Calvert, editor-in-chief
Bear Guerra/HCN
These conservation issues are important, of course, in defining the West, but so too are the injustices that gnaw at Western communities. Elsewhere in this issue, we describe how the detention system is bankrupting immigrant families. We also report on the impediments to reproductive health that women face in Indian Country and the ways in which billionaires are reshaping the Western landscape. We look at efforts to legalize more drugs in Western states, and examine how independent Indigenous zines are helping young people navigate their identities.

As High Country News moves into its 50th year, we hope to show readers the Western U.S. in full, so that anyone who lives in the region (or watches it from afar) will understand it better. As editor-in-chief, I hope that we can help you make meaningful decisions about this unique place, and that we’ll inform, inspire and challenge you to act on its behalf. It is our aim to reintroduce you, again and again, to this complicated West.

Brian Calvert is the editor-in-chief of High Country News.

Email him at [email protected] or submit a letter to the editor

High Country News Classifieds
  • GUIDE TO WESTERN NATIONAL MONUMENTS
    NEW BOOK showcases 70 national monuments across the western United States. Use "Guide10" for 10% off at cmcpress.org
  • CARBON RANCH PLANNER
    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,...
  • EDUCATION AND OUTREACH DIRECTOR
    Education and Outreach Program Director The Quivira Coalition (www.quiviracoaltion.org) is a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic,...
  • WESTERN DIVISION DIRECTOR OF FIELD PROGRAMS
    DEADLINE TO APPLY: October 29, 2021 LOCATION FLEXIBLE (WESTERN HUB CITY PREFERRED) Overview The Land Trust Alliance is the voice of the land trust community....
  • COMMUNICATIONS AND OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Communications and Outreach Associate Position Opening: www.westernlaw.org/communications-outreach-associate ************************************************* Location: Western U.S., ideally in one of WELC's existing office locations (Santa Fe or Taos, NM, Helena,...
  • FREELANCE GRAPHIC DESIGNER & PROJECT COORDINATOR (REMOTE)
    High Country News (HCN) is seeking a contract Graphic Designer & Project Coordinator to design promotional, marketing and fund-raising assets and campaigns, and project-manage them...
  • FILM AND DIGITAL MEDIA: ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF INDIGENOUS MEDIA, CULTURAL SOVEREIGNTY AND DECOLONIZATION (INITIAL REVIEW 12.1.21)
    Film and Digital Media: Assistant Professor of Indigenous Media, Cultural Sovereignty and Decolonization (Initial Review 12.1.21) Position overview Position title: Assistant Professor - tenure-track Salary...
  • REAL ESTATE SPECIALIST
    To learn more about this position and to apply please go to the following URL.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    "More Data, Less Digging" Find groundwater and reduce excavation costs!
  • RARE CHIRICAHUA RIPARIAN LAND FOR SALE
    40 acres: 110 miles from Tucson: native trees, grasses: birder's heaven::dark sky/ borders state lease & National forest/5100 ft/13-16 per annum rain
  • CENTRAL PARK CULTURAL RESOURCE SPECIALIST
    Agency: Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Salary Range: $5,203 - $7,996 Position Title: Central Park Cultural Resource Specialist Do you have a background in Archaeology...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    Come live and work in one of the most beautiful places in the world! As our Staff Attorney you will play a key role in...
  • ARIZONA GRAZING CLEARINGHOUSE
    Dedicated to preventing the ecological degradation caused by livestock grazing on Arizona's public lands, and exposing the government subsidies that support it.
  • OPERATIONS MANAGER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo (friendsoftheinyo.org) is seeking a new Operations Manager. The Operations Manager position is a full-time permanent position that reports directly...
  • WATER RIGHTS BUREAU CHIEF
    Water Rights Bureau Chief, State of Montana, DNRC, Water Resources Division, Helena, MT Working to support and implement the Department's mission to help ensure that...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Amargosa Conservancy (AC), a conservation nonprofit dedicated to standing up for water and biodiversity in the Death Valley region, seeks an executive director to...
  • DEVELOPMENT & OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Southeast Alaska Conservation Council is hiring! Who We Are: The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC) is a small grassroots nonprofit based out of Juneau, Alaska,...
  • DESERT LANDS ORGANIZER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo seeks a Desert Lands Organizer to assist with existing campaigns that will defend lands in the California desert, with...
  • IDAHO CONSERVATION LEAGUE
    Want to help preserve Idaho's land, water, and air for future generations? Idaho Conservation League currently has 3 open positions. We are looking for a...
  • LUNATEC ODOR-FREE DISHCLOTHS
    are a must try. They stay odor-free, dry fast, are durable and don't require machine washing. Try today.