Issues

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.
Change Comes to Short Creek
Change Comes to Short Creek
In this issue, our feature story explores a small corner of the region: A fundamentalist empire called Short Creek on the Arizona-Utah border that's feeling the encroaching pressure of the modern-day West. There we find uncomfortable truth — but an important aspect of the past. In the rest of the issue, we have an eye on the future: A Westerner on the Supreme Court, and solutions to endless sprawl in water-scarce Arizona.
Firestorm
Firestorm
This issue’s cover story takes us into towering plumes of smoke to follow the work of researchers. New studies are uncovering how intense wildfires create their own weather and move across the land — knowledge that could save lives. It's a reminder of stake: If President Donald Trump’s budget cuts hobble that research, it will harm, not strengthen, the West’s security. Plus, the growing voice of sportsmen, communities protecting immigrants, and a public-lands love affair.
The Tree Ring
The Tree Ring
In our latest issue, we take a look back on our political history: In 1983, Reagan’s pick to head the environmental Protection agency, Anne Gorsuch, led the charge to slash her own agency’s budget and relax pollution standards. Scott Pruitt, the Trump administration’s new EPA administrator, has staked out an eerily similar path. In our cover story, a Washington man at the center of a timber-poaching gang wanted to help investigators — but he probably didn't think it would backfire and lead to an investigation that would land him in jail.
Uncomfortable Corners
Uncomfortable Corners
In this year's Travel Issue, we have tried to push deep into the unexpected, or even uncomfortable, corners of the West. These are not vacation stories, necessarily. But they are travel stories. They are as much inner journeys as outer, all prompted by the unique features of our great region, places often forgotten or ignored.
Overdosed
Overdosed
In this issue, we investigate how the tentacles of a national opioid and heroin epidemic have reached the rural West. To help tell that story, Assistant Editor Paige Blankenbuehler reported in tiny Craig, Colorado, where she uncovered a private practice that spurred a complicated drug crisis that continues to outpace the available resources for addicts, the health care community and law enforcement.
River of Healing
River of Healing
As a new administration begins to overhaul U.S. regulatory system, we take a deeper look at the meaning of wilderness. Florence Williams, in our cover feature, tags along on an Idaho outing along a "River of No Return." The experience proved transformative for many of the women, damaged by the war, who found solace in nature.
For Which it Stands
For Which it Stands
How the movement at Standing Rock and its protestors' efforts extended well beyond North Dakota. While the pipeline is stalled (for now), its impacts are planting seeds, however small, within social and environmental movements and for tribal sovereignty across the country.
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