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Once and Future Fires
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June 1, 2021

This month, we look at how Westerners cope with wildfires: In Idaho, small towns clash with the Forest Service over how to manage the forest, while in Oregon, people left homeless by fires find refuge in a Medford hotel. Alaska Natives respond to food insecurity by building biomass-fueled greenhouses, and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes announce a plan concerning the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous people. Water remains a perennial problem: Phoenix, Arizona, is outgrowing its supply, while California’s new groundwater sustainability act is getting off to a troubled start. Asian Americans flock to gun shops after recent attacks, Montana activists continue to fight for racial justice, and cannabis growers use more energy than you’d expect. Finally, we talk to Michelle Nijhuis about her new book and review two other intriguing volumes — “Red Nation Rising” and “Finding the Mother Tree.”

Feature

Facing future wildfires, a community fights for its forest
Facing future wildfires, a community fights for its forest
Conflicting visions in central Idaho force tough decisions over logging and prescribed burning.

Reportage

Tribes unveil landmark missing and murdered Indigenous person response
Tribes unveil landmark missing and murdered Indigenous person response
The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes worked with federal agencies to complete a first of its kind plan to address the crisis.
How ‘sustainable’ is California’s groundwater sustainability act?
How ‘sustainable’ is California’s groundwater sustainability act?
Numerous issues around equity and the plan’s rollout loom.
The West’s Asian Americans arm up for self-defense
The West’s Asian Americans arm up for self-defense
Once denied their Second Amendment rights, Asian Americans are heading to gun shops in droves.
The fight for racial justice in Montana, one year out
The fight for racial justice in Montana, one year out
From Havre to Bozeman, the push for equity persists.
Hotels for those left unhoused by wildfires
Hotels for those left unhoused by wildfires
As climate change ratchets up wildfire intensity, an Oregon program provides a step toward home.
Rapid growth in Arizona’s suburbs bets against an uncertain water supply
Rapid growth in Arizona’s suburbs bets against an uncertain water supply
‘The alternative is something they don’t want to think about.’
Supreme Court of Canada affirms trans-boundary Indigenous rights
Supreme Court of Canada affirms trans-boundary Indigenous rights
The Arrow Lakes Band is one of many Indigenous communities bisected and disrupted by a border about which they were never consulted.
Film: After wildfire, a motel becomes a temporary refuge
Film: After wildfire, a motel becomes a temporary refuge
Nearly 8,000 people lost their housing in Oregon’s Labor Day fires. Some are finally finding a home, for now.

Editor's Note

Keeping up with the changing West
Keeping up with the changing West
Now more than ever, our issues are intersectional and our fates are intertwined.

What Works

Will a Native-led initiative spur an agricultural revolution in rural Alaska?
Will a Native-led initiative spur an agricultural revolution in rural Alaska?
A grassroots project to build biomass-heated greenhouses aims to alleviate food insecurity in the communities most affected by it.

Facts & Figures

Cannabis has a carbon problem
Cannabis has a carbon problem
The burgeoning marijuana industry gobbles up electricity.

Conversation

Species conservation is a human problem
Species conservation is a human problem
Writer Michelle Nijhuis synthesizes the story of modern-day conservation in her new book ‘Beloved Beasts.’

Review

The everyday violence of Indian Country’s ‘bordertowns’
The everyday violence of Indian Country’s ‘bordertowns’
In ‘Red Nation Rising,’ violence in the communities abutting reservations illuminates colonialism’s continued presence.
How Suzanne Simard changed our relationship to trees
How Suzanne Simard changed our relationship to trees
In ‘Finding the Mother Tree,’ a maverick forest ecologist relates her scientific journey — one that follows in the footsteps of traditional Indigenous knowledge.

Heard Around the West

Impossible markets; Schroederisms; Western advice
Impossible markets; Schroederisms; Western advice
Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.

Dear Friends

The final stretch of our 50th anniversary campaign
The final stretch of our 50th anniversary campaign
We’re down to the wire and need your help.

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