Issues

Desert, Divided
Desert, Divided
This issue looks at borders – physical, ecological and otherwise. The feature investigates how a wall would affect the Borderlands region in the U.S. and Mexico, while a correspondent examines how borders around protected public lands in Alaska may be opened to oil and gas exploration. And, finally, an essay ponders the intertidal zone on the Oregon coast, and the thin biological line that divides humans from a tide pool’s ‘primordial soup.’
Drilling Chaco
Drilling Chaco
Conflict in the West constantly remakes itself. This issue looks at new iterations of those fights: A water battle over rural wells in Washington, Cliven Bundy’s victory rally for Freedom and Property, and the struggle of Navajo Nation residents to prevent more oil and gas exploration in historically important lands.
Unfrozen North
Unfrozen North
In this issue, the feature explores how melting permafrost in the Arctic will contribute to a changing climate, and how quickly. While that story examines the effect that human-caused climate change is already having, other stories look at one root cause: the proliferation of oil and gas drilling, which, under the Trump administration, is increasingly transferring public lands into industrial leaseholders' hands.
Caught Between Crises
Caught Between Crises
In this issue, the feature examines one Indigenous family's experience with structural inequities that affect the availability of housing in both rural and urban areas. Inequity is also examined in the Letter from California, on how federal tax policy will exacerbate growing class disparities. And finally, a story of a binational community shows what could be, once we look beyond borders, whether of class or nations.
A Separatist State of Mind
A Separatist State of Mind
Expressions of rural discontent are a main theme in this issue. Our feature story examines a zealous political movement born from resentment of California’s liberal ‘resistance’ to Trump. Meanwhile, the Bundy family walks free of charges from their involvement with a standoff with federal agents. These stories find common ground in their telling of cultural disempowerment.
Bear Essentials
Bear Essentials
In this issue's feature story, writer Christopher Solomon visits a rare sort of place: a bear sanctuary where humans are subordinate — assuming a role we must have played long ago. Casting aside the notion that humans are somehow above and beyond nature, this issue touches on how still-wild places can be a healing force and how we might rethink our relationship with the natural world.
Scorched Earth
Scorched Earth
In this issue we examine the West's relationship with fire after a difficult wildfire season. In the wildlands of California, we look at how fire is being used as its own management tool; we also look at the mounting impacts wildfire has on watersheds in the region and on public health in Montana. We break down why Congress hasn’t provided a fire-funding fix, and in an essay, a firefighter contemplates his own mortality.
Profit and Politics
Profit and Politics
This issue addresses state lands, and what could come of the West's federal lands if they were transferred to states, a tenet of the Republican party platform. Our reporters investigate how wildlife, extractive industries and recreation are managed in New Mexico, North Dakota and Utah to better understand what's at stake.
Solace and Perspective
Solace and Perspective
In a break from covering the news, our annual Books & Authors special issue offers perspective by taking a look at the complicated West through a different lens: literature. Essays, excerpts, author profiles, Q&As and book reviews tackle grief, oddities and hard questions.
The Changing Face of Woods Work
The Changing Face of Woods Work
In this issue of High Country News, long-time contributor Hal Herring explains how immigration policy and a push for cheap labor have changed the economics of forest management. Film critic Jason Asenap examines the history of non-Native directors relying on overused stereotypes of Indigenous people. In a place as complicated as the West, our understanding of what shapes it is ever-evolving.
Following Ancient Footsteps
Following Ancient Footsteps
This issue looks at human migrations, both modern and ancient. The feature examines the science of human migrations, with both Pueblo people in the Southwest and archeologists working together at Mesa Verde. An Alaskan Tlingit author writes about her own migration away from her homeland, and back again. And, a hunter on public lands follows the migration of deer to find food for her family for the winter. Movement is fundamental to humans, and just one way that we’re still connected to the natural world.
No Hoax
No Hoax
In this issue, we confront the realities of climate change as its impacts on the West begin to unfold. We explore the longer growing seasons in Alaska, the fragility of shellfish in an increasingly acidified ocean and the impact of extreme weather events on indigenous people, and what they’re doing about it. With an administration at odds with recognizing climate change, it’s even more important to see what efforts are being made at the grass roots level.
The Elwha, Unleashed
The Elwha, Unleashed
In this issue, we look past the contentious symbolism of dams and see what we can learn from them. We examine the lessons learned on Washington’s Elwha River, whose dams came down six years ago, and Utah’s Bear River, where a diversion is still being planned. And we look at the surprisingly scant science behind calls to take down Glen Canyon Dam, which would be a major win for preservationists but a potential disaster for many Westerners.
Rooftop Revolution
Rooftop Revolution
This issue delves into the forces that shape our energy system – from corporate profit motives, to the individuals with solar panels on their roofs. These decisions affect our ability to mitigate climate change, which is also touched on in this issue from the Southwest’s songbirds struggling with increased heatwaves, to volunteer firefighters battling more wildfires.
Los Promotores
Los Promotores
This issue makes visible the communities who often go unseen and unheard. The feature looks at local activists in California who, without assistance from the government, have been doggedly trying to heal their communities from toxic dumps through education and community service. The issue also covers a new species facing extinction, dams in the West and enlivened efforts to drill near national monuments.
Down the Dark Mountain
Down the Dark Mountain
This issue delves into the choices we must make as we begin to face the consequences of the Anthropocene. Reckoning with the grinding anxiety of climate change and the grief of losing our most precious species, how we cope with these fears will define us. Also, how Trump could reshape important courts, what's caused California's white shark boom, and tribal nations fight grizzly bear delisting.
Personal Pilgrimage
Personal Pilgrimage
In our annual Outdoor Recreation issue we examine the lure of long hauls and personal pilgrimage. Something happens once we’re outdoors that touches our deeper human natures. As we encounter the wild, and recognize our own small place in it, we can’t help but be humbled and changed.
The Big Swing
The Big Swing
In this issue, we examine the subtleties of Western politics by trying to understand why one Colorado county swung from blue to red in the last election. The county has long been Democratic, with roots in coal production and unions, yet voters in Walsenburg lost faith in professional politicians and voted for now-President Donald Trump. Also, Wyoming considers its wilderness study areas, new studies show the West's water supplies are dwindling, and urban families fight health-harming heat.
The Cost of a Comeback
The Cost of a Comeback
In this issue, we delve into some of the strange intersections between humans and animals. Associate editor Tay Wiles introduces us to members of Nevada’s Agriculture Enforcement Unit, who ride the range investigating a spate of mysterious bovine injuries, and for our cover story, writer Julia Rosen takes us into the paradoxical world of bighorn sheep conservation that's pitted conservationists against each other.
Prison Town
Prison Town
In this issue, a look at Adelanto, California, and the economies it has turned to in order to survive: desert farming, then a military air base and finally an immigration incarceration center. Also, bears and tourists in national parks, some of Oregon’s houseless find a home, and oil and gas development under Colorado suburbs leads to a deadly explosion.
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