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End of the Line
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February 1, 2021

In this issue, we focus on some of the ways the ongoing transition away from coal will be felt across the West. Our feature story profiles Diné activist Nicole Horseherder and her long quest for an equitable energy economy on the Navajo Nation. A half-century ago, what law professor and scholar Charles Wilkinson dubbed the “Big Buildup” transformed the West’s energy economy; now, it’s coming to an end in the “Big Breakdown.” We talk to some of the workers at the Boardman coal-fired plant in Oregon, as it shutters. Elsewhere, in Wyoming, we look at how communities are turning to wind power to make ends meet as they figure out how to get by in a future less dependent on fossil fuels. In other news, we look at how Western tribes are taking over land-management responsibilities at places like Montana’s National Bison Refuge. And we examine the disturbing links between the attempted coup in Washington, D.C., and the right-wing extremism rooted in the West. Activist Jackie Fielder discusses housing inequities in the time of COVID-19, while in rural Colorado, we meet a unique group of LGBTQ+, anti-fascist, pro-gun ranchers who have put together a community of their own. Finally, we reflect on the legacy of legendary Western author William Kittredge and reconsider Joan Didion's vision of the West.

Feature

 The fight for an equitable energy economy for the Navajo Nation
The fight for an equitable energy economy for the Navajo Nation
Diné activist Nicole Horseherder’s long quest for equity from the rise and fall of the coal economy.

Reportage

New wind projects power local budgets in Wyoming
New wind projects power local budgets in Wyoming
As the pandemic hit the fossil fuel industry, renewable energy projects filled community coffers.
In cash-strapped Wyoming, a community votes for a new hospital
In cash-strapped Wyoming, a community votes for a new hospital
As the state cuts funding for public services, cities and counties are figuring out how to go it alone.
Meet the gun-toting ‘Tenacious Unicorns’ in rural Colorado
Meet the gun-toting ‘Tenacious Unicorns’ in rural Colorado
How a transgender-owned alpaca ranch in Colorado foretells the future of the rural queer West.
 Bears Ears is just the beginning
Bears Ears is just the beginning
As the Biden administration begins, tribal nations with ties to Utah assert their relationships to the land.
In Arizona, fighting a copper mine planned on sacred land
In Arizona, fighting a copper mine planned on sacred land
Oak Flat has been an important location to Indigenous peoples for millennia.
The Washington, D.C., siege has Western roots and consequences
The Washington, D.C., siege has Western roots and consequences
History and the growing power of right-wing extremism point to a volatile future for the West during the Biden presidency.
Reclaiming the National Bison Range
Reclaiming the National Bison Range
After decades of battling misinformation, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes recover their lands and the herd.

Editor's Note

Remembering coal
Remembering coal
A look at the end of an era and its transition.

Facts & Figures

Coal’s big breakdown
Coal’s big breakdown
A half-century ago, the ‘Big Buildup’ transformed the West; now, it’s all coming to an end.

Photo Essay

Workers reflect on Oregon’s first and last coal plant
Workers reflect on Oregon’s first and last coal plant
‘The people here made the plant. What we did is something that was needed.’

Essays

The lessons on storytelling that William Kittredge taught
The lessons on storytelling that William Kittredge taught
The beloved teacher and writer was preoccupied with the particular.

Conversation

Is it time to decolonize the housing market?
Is it time to decolonize the housing market?
In California, COVID-19 is exacerbating housing inequities. Indigenous activist Jackie Fielder believes she has a solution.

Perspective

Mountaintop removal threatens traditional Blackfoot territory
Mountaintop removal threatens traditional Blackfoot territory
Stop the Grassy Mountain coal project before it starts.
How Wyoming’s Black coal miners shaped their own history
How Wyoming’s Black coal miners shaped their own history
Many early Wyoming coal towns had thriving Black communities.

Review

Finding meaning on Joan Didion’s frontier
Finding meaning on Joan Didion’s frontier
With the release of a new collection, the 86-year-old author returns to her old work and a vast, complicated legacy.

Heard Around the West

Multipurpose microbes; therapeutic cows; a liberal’s passing
Multipurpose microbes; therapeutic cows; a liberal’s passing
Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.

Dear Friends

HCN in the 2000s
HCN in the 2000s
A look back at time when extraction was king and Jonathan Thompson was our editor-in-chief.
New interns join the team
New interns join the team
And our latest Virginia Spencer Davis Fellow is announced.

Letters

High Country News Classifieds
  • NORTHERN NEW MEXICO PROJECT MANAGER
    Seeking qualified Northern New Mexico Project Manager to provide expertise, leadership and support to the organization by planning, cultivating, implementing and managing land conservation activities,...
  • REGIONAL TRAIL STEWARDSHIP COORDINATOR
    Are you passionate about connecting people to the outdoors? The Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) is looking for someone with trail maintenance and volunteer engagement...
  • TRAIL CREW MEMBER
    Position Title: Trail Crew Member Position Type: 6 month seasonal position, April 17-October 15, 2023 Location: Field-based; The RFOV office is in Carbondale, CO, and...
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    Chief Executive Officer, Remote Exempt position for Buffalo Nations Grasslands Alliance is responsible for the planning and organization of BNGA's day-to-day operations
  • IDAHO DIRECTOR - WESTERN WATERSHEDS PROJECT
    Western Watersheds Project seeks an Idaho Director to continue and expand upon WWP's campaign to protect and restore public lands and wildlife in Idaho, with...
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    Na'ah Illahee Fund (NIF) is seeking a highly qualified Development Director to join our team in supporting and furthering our mission. This position will create...
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    Grand Staircase Escalante Partners (GSEP) is seeking a leader to join our dynamic team in the long-term protection of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM). We...
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    The Grassland Research Coordinator is a cooperative position with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that performs and participates in and coordinates data collection for...
  • HYDROELECTRIC PLANT
    1.3 MW FERC licensed hydroelectric station near Taylorsville CA. Property is 184 deeded acres surrounded by National Forrest.
  • "PROFILES IN COURAGE: STANDING AGAINST THE WYOMING WIND"
    13 stories of extraordinary courage including HCN founder Tom Bell, PRBRC director Lynn Dickey, Liz Cheney, People of Heart Mountain, the Wind River Indian Reservation...
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    JOB DESCRIPTION: This Work involves the responsibility of conducting research in the procurement of Federal, State, County, and private grant funding. Additional responsibilities include identifying...
  • MATADOR RANCH STEWARD
    The Matador Ranch Steward conducts annual stewardship projects at the Matador Ranch Preserve and occasionally supports stewardship projects elsewhere in Montana's Northern Great Plains. The...
  • COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT ASSISTANT
    The Idaho Conservation League is seeking a motivated individual to help build public support for key strategic initiatives in northern Idaho through public outreach and...
  • PROGRAM MANAGER
    Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness Foundation seeks a steward/educator to lead backcountry volunteer projects and community outreach. FT $36k-$40k, competitive time off. ALSO HIRING OPERATIONS MANAGER. More...
  • ASSISTANT RANCH OPERATIONS MANAGER
    WANTED: ASSISTANT RANCH OPERATIONS MANAGER ~ UTAH/COLORADO border ~ Looking to immediately hire an experienced and clean hardworker to join us on a beautiful, very...
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    Go Bulk! Go Natural! Our products are better for you and better for the environment. Say no to single-use plastic. Made in U.S.A., by a...
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Field seminars for adults in the natural and human history of the Colorado Plateau, with lodge and base camp options. Small groups, guest experts.
  • CORTEZ COLORADO LOT FOR SALE
    Historic tree-lined Montezuma Ave. Zoned Neighborhood Business. Build your dream house or business right in the heart of town. $74,000. Southwest Realty
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    - We find groundwater, buried debris and assist with new construction projects for a fraction of drilling costs.