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The Rough Road Ahead
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March 1, 2021

In this issue, our feature story looks at the ways our culture criminalizes homelessness, focusing on an Oregon man who was caught in a cycle of poverty and policing that ended in his unexpected death. We also dive into the climate crisis, as drought further stresses the Colorado River Basin and impacts California’s Punjabi American farmers. Elsewhere, we consider what might change under the new administration, as President Joe Biden pauses oil and gas leasing on public lands and halts construction on his predecessor’s border wall. In Nevada, we investigate a lithium mine that was fast-tracked without the input of a nearby tribe. We’re still keeping an eye on COVID-19 — checking out a successful telemedicine program, meeting the foreign-born doctors easing health-care shortages in the West, and talking to a vet-virologist about the first case of the disease in a Utah wild mink. We review a book about life in the Bakken oil fields, ponder new perspectives on art in the desert, and, as always, find something to smile about in our column, “Heard around the West.”

Feature

Did James Plymell need to die?
Did James Plymell need to die?
How homelessness is criminalized in small cities and towns across the West.

Reportage

New Mexico judge revokes protected lands for jaguars
New Mexico judge revokes protected lands for jaguars
Conservation groups vow to fight the ruling to help the cats reclaim their historic habitat.
Nevada lithium mine kicks off a new era of Western extraction
Nevada lithium mine kicks off a new era of Western extraction
The hastily approved project went forward without comment from the Fort McDermitt Paiute Shoshone Tribe.
Despite discrimination and drought, Punjabi Americans farm on
Despite discrimination and drought, Punjabi Americans farm on
As America’s food basket dries out, Punjabi American growers fear the loss of their hard-earned farmlands.
Will the climate crisis tap out the Colorado River?
Will the climate crisis tap out the Colorado River?
Water availability is going from bad to worse in the seven states that rely on the drought-stricken river.
Foreign-born doctors fill physician shortages in the West
Foreign-born doctors fill physician shortages in the West
Some find a permanent home; others languish in a visa holding pattern.
Public land is no longer on sale to oil and gas companies
Public land is no longer on sale to oil and gas companies
President Biden’s leasing pause signals a major shift in federal land policy.

Editor's Note

The big issues facing the West
The big issues facing the West
In midst of the hard news, there’s hope and humanity.

What Works

A rural remedy to health care access
A rural remedy to health care access
A virtual telementoring program helps the West respond to the pandemic.

Facts & Figures

Border barrier boondoggle
Border barrier boondoggle
Trump’s promised inexpensive, impregnable wall was anything but.

Essays

In Nogales, joy endures
In Nogales, joy endures
The Borderlands may be militarized, but for writer Alberto Ríos, it’s still home.

Conversation

Why Utah’s wild mink COVID-19 case matters
Why Utah’s wild mink COVID-19 case matters
‘Vet-virologist’ Anna Fagre discusses the first positive case detected in the wild — and how ‘spillover’ could impact the West.

Perspective

The alternatives to Instagram-ready desert art
The alternatives to Instagram-ready desert art
Popular installations often frame the desert as austere and inhospitable. But there are artists who look at the land differently.

Review

All fracked up: A debut memoir wrestles with toxic masculinity in the oil fields
All fracked up: A debut memoir wrestles with toxic masculinity in the oil fields
Michael Patrick F. Smith’s ‘The Good Hand’ offers sharp observations on North Dakota’s extraction industry.

Heard Around the West

Tired and inspired; wild new world; signs everywhere
Tired and inspired; wild new world; signs everywhere
Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.

Dear Friends

HCN in the 2010s
HCN in the 2010s
The era was defined by Malheur, pipeline protests and the beginning of the Trump presidency.
Our expanding universe
Our expanding universe
New staff, new technology, more readers.

Letters

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