Magazine
Beauty and Biodiversity in the Borderlands
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May 1, 2021

The May issue takes us into little-known landscapes, from the Atascosa Highlands of Arizona, where a photographer and an ecologist are documenting biodiversity, to the concrete channels of the Los Angeles River, where people who lack housing fish and attempt to get by. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, a Chicano community wants an urban wildlife refuge to remain a haven for locals, while in Denver, second-graders say wolf reintroduction will be nothing short of “amaaaazing!” We provide some background to the “firearms frenzy” in the West, and an incarcerated person in San Quentin, California, describes his experience with overcrowding and COVID-19. Prominent U.S. institutions are finally acknowledging how much they profited from Indigenous lands, but fine words alone won’t undo the damage. Meanwhile, the descendants of enslaved people still fight for a place in the Cherokee Nation. We review Going to Trinidad by Martin J. Smith, the story of a pioneering Colorado surgeon and his transgender patients, and talk to geographer Diana Livermore about her pursuit of climate justice. And we check out the quirkier side of the region in our regular Heard around the West column.

Feature

See the first-ever survey of the Atascosa Highlands
See the first-ever survey of the Atascosa Highlands
An ecologist and a photographer teamed to document and build a living archive of the Borderlands’ biodiversity — before it’s too late.

Reportage

Has Eugene, Oregon, found a ‘superpower’ for climate action?
Has Eugene, Oregon, found a ‘superpower’ for climate action?
The city’s eyeing changes to its natural gas contract to fund climate ambitions.
Second-graders take on Colorado’s wolf reintroduction
Second-graders take on Colorado’s wolf reintroduction
‘Wolves are AMAAAAZING! Because they help the ecosystem and are amazing.’
Investigation: Illegal cannabis operation looks for roots in Indigenous communities
Investigation: Illegal cannabis operation looks for roots in Indigenous communities
High Country News and Searchlight New Mexico confirmed that Dineh Benally, who set up illegal ventures on the Navajo Nation, attempts new operations in South Dakota.
Montana counties band together to reinvigorate passenger rail
Montana counties band together to reinvigorate passenger rail
The newly formed Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority aims to connect a rural and divided state.
Charges dropped for Black Hills protesters
Charges dropped for Black Hills protesters
After months of organizing, charges against Nick Tilsen, NDN Collective president and CEO, and all others arrested will be dropped.
Can a wildlife refuge help a community’s fight for environmental justice?
Can a wildlife refuge help a community’s fight for environmental justice?
In Albuquerque’s South Valley, activists are happy for more green space but worry about gentrification.
The Los Angeles River’s overlooked anglers
The Los Angeles River’s overlooked anglers
Unhoused Angelenos use the urban river as a source of sustenance, but a proposal to revitalize the waterway could push them out.

Editor's Note

Meet HCN’s new editor-in-chief
Meet HCN’s new editor-in-chief
Our readers have high expectations, and Jennifer Sahn is up for the charge.

Facts & Figures

Americans go on a gun-buying frenzy
Americans go on a gun-buying frenzy
Gun-related violence soars along with sales.

Conversation

Geographer Diana Liverman explains how to tackle the climate crisis fairly
Geographer Diana Liverman explains how to tackle the climate crisis fairly
The first step? Don’t panic.

Perspective

As the country reckons with race, will tribal nations lead the way?
As the country reckons with race, will tribal nations lead the way?
The descendants of those once enslaved by tribes continue to push for equality.
Will COVID-19 vaccinations mean more prison overcrowding deaths?
Will COVID-19 vaccinations mean more prison overcrowding deaths?
California’s decades-old ‘tough on crime’ laws still fill prisons, creating disease danger zones.
So you want to acknowledge the land?
So you want to acknowledge the land?
Some notes on a trend, and what real justice could look like.

Review

The Colorado town that became a transgender haven
The Colorado town that became a transgender haven
In ‘Going to Trinidad,’ histories illuminate — and obscure — the outcomes of gender transition.

Heard Around the West

A rescue mule, bizarre humans and alarming politicians
A rescue mule, bizarre humans and alarming politicians
Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.

Dear Friends

Big awards and staffing changes
Big awards and staffing changes
Our investigation from March 2020 gets deserved recognition, and we say a bittersweet farewell to a few employees.
Spread the news, and take us higher!
Spread the news, and take us higher!
We’re on a quest to transform HCN for another 50 years, and you can help.

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