Magazine
Wiring the Wild
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March 4, 2020

This special issue is dedicated to winter recreation and asks who — and what —belongs in the backcountry. Our feature story investigates how telecom giants are pushing to build infrastructure on protected public lands. An essay considers the tension between the digitized West and exclusivity. From Colorado, we report on the effects that ski wax has on the environment. In Wyoming, a ski mountaineer changes the way she skis to protect wildlife. We report on the ongoing fight between snowmobilers, conservationists and wolverines in Idaho. In New Mexico, we share a photo essay on the last of the shovel racers. We also take a look at the ethics of shed hunting and review the 15th annual Backcountry Film Festival.

Feature

The Park Service is selling out to telecom giants
The Park Service is selling out to telecom giants
With Trump’s blessing, cell towers are infiltrating protected public lands across the West.

Reportage

For skiers, there’s a contaminant underfoot
For skiers, there’s a contaminant underfoot
Premium wax is affecting alpine food webs.
When the love of skiing endangers wildlife
When the love of skiing endangers wildlife
A world-renowned athlete stopped skiing in sensitive areas. Can she convince others to do the same?
What’s threatening the elusive wolverine?
What’s threatening the elusive wolverine?
As snowmobilers fight to preserve their pastime, scientists worry about the future of the species.
Will we ever know rec’s true impact on wildlife?
Will we ever know rec’s true impact on wildlife?
Scientists race to quantify winter recreation’s impact on Canada lynx, but technology outpaces them.

Editor's Note

Technology has complicated our relationship to winter
Technology has complicated our relationship to winter
In this increasingly digitized West, who is shut out?

Essays

The wildness is in me, too
The wildness is in me, too
People were excluded from the wild, historically, and in today’s rapidly digitizing West.
Overcoming winter’s alienation
Overcoming winter’s alienation
I long felt shut out of the season. Snowshoeing changed that.
Searching for winter in  Palm Springs
Searching for winter in Palm Springs
As the West warms, hunting for snow becomes part of the adventure.

Photo Essay

The last shovel racers
The last shovel racers
After four decades, a ski resort drops a beloved tradition.

Perspective

Is shed hunting ethical?
Is shed hunting ethical?
A Utah conservationist weighs the hobby’s popularity with its moral stakes.

Review

The Backcountry Film Festival struggles to balance self-awareness and escapism
The Backcountry Film Festival struggles to balance self-awareness and escapism
The 15th annual film series unevenly grapples with the paradox of the winter rec industry.

Heard Around the West

Deer dinner; tree dates; boulder dimensions
Deer dinner; tree dates; boulder dimensions
Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.

Dear Friends

An old colleague — and a new executive director
An old colleague — and a new executive director
High Country News gets a new trail guide.
Student journalists and a new face
Student journalists and a new face
Editors take time to help student journalists understand the craft, and a photo editor joins the staff.
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