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Back On Track November 14, 2005

Back On Track

Denver, Colo., one of the West’s most sprawling, traffic-choked cities, has become a champion of mass transit with FasTracks, its ambitious light-rail project. Also in this issue: A provision in the new energy bill promises funding to speed up the oil and gas permitting process in BLM offices – without costing the industry an extra penny.

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The Public Lands' Big Cash Crop October 31, 2005

The Public Lands' Big Cash Crop

Elaborate marijuana gardens created and managed by Mexican drug lords are turning California’s public lands into a dangerous, illegal, industrial-style landscape. Also in this issue: The Forest Service’s claim that a recent court order would suspend routine activities – such as cutting Christmas trees or picking mushrooms – has been dismissed by the judge as the agency’s attempt to blow the issue out of proportion.

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The Ghosts of Yosemite October 17, 2005

The Ghosts of Yosemite

Modern-day scientists, retracing the path of Joseph Grinnell in Yosemite National Park, document conspicuous changes in the natural world and find a culprit unimagined by biologists 100 years ago: global warming. Also in this issue: On his 12th attempt, Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., succeeds in pushing a bill through the U.S. House designed to reform the Endangered Species Act and end critical habitat protection.

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Out of the Four Corners October 03, 2005

Out of the Four Corners

Susan Ryan, a young archaeologist, has some unusual ideas about why the Anasazi left their homes in the Southwest, 700 years ago. Also in this issue: In the city of Albuquerque, underdog candidate Eric Griego, a critic of sprawl, challenges incumbent Mayor Marty Chavez, a pro-growth booster.

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Squeezing Water from a Stone September 19, 2005

Squeezing Water from a Stone

With only a tiny share of the Colorado River available to it, Las Vegas decides to get the water it needs from elsewhere in the state – underneath the rural high-desert Basin and Range country. Also in this issue: The Park Service lands in hot water when Deputy Assistant Interior Secretary Paul Hoffman secretly rewrites the agency’s management manual, and the revision is leaked to the press.

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Rangeland Revival September 05, 2005

Rangeland Revival

The Quivira Coalition wants to bring peace and prosperity to the West’s public grazing lands, but some critics question whether the collaboration-based group can accomplish its goals. Also in this issue: The Navajo Nation is wrangling over the benefits – and dangers – of the proposed Desert Rock Power Plant in northwestern New Mexico.

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A Military Town Fights for its Life August 22, 2005

A Military Town Fights for its Life

The Air Force wants to close Cannon Air Force Base, but the nearby town of Clovis, N.M., is not ready to let go of its main economic engine. Also in this issue: California Republican Rep. Richard Pombo holds a hearing in New Mexico on the National Environmental Policy Act, and it’s up to Rep. Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat, to defend the law against its conservative attackers.

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The Gangs of Zion August 08, 2005

The Gangs of Zion

In Mormon Country, young Polynesians search for identity -- and for an escape from a seemingly unstoppable cycle of violence. Also in this Issue: The BLM lets the gas industry sit behind the desk and The Great Salt Lake is loaded with mercury.

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The Many Faces of Richard Pombo July 25, 2005

The Many Faces of Richard Pombo

California Republican Rep. Richard Pombo made his mark blasting the Endangered Species Act, but now, he says, he’s learning to compromise on environmental issues. Also in this issue: The Bureau of Land Management rewrote a scientific report critical of its new grazing rules, and two veteran scientists have quit the agency in protest.

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Reflections on a Divided Land June 27, 2005

Reflections on a Divided Land

A writer takes a 1,600-mile Greyhound bus ride from Salt Lake City into Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington, and listens to the stories of the Westerners he meets. Also in this issue: The Bureau of Land Management is tightening its standards on what it considers worthwhile, "substantive" public comments from citizen activists.

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Owning a Piece of Paradise June 13, 2005

Owning a Piece of Paradise

The development boom in the West’s exurbs is draining public coffers and destroying the region’s last wide-open spaces. Also in this issue: A judge has thrown out the Bush administration’s salmon protection plan, setting the stage for dramatic changes to the federal hydropower system.

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Write-off on the Range May 30, 2005

Write-off on the Range

In Montana’s Madison County, Reid Rosenthal uses conservation easements to help the land — and make his investors rich. Also in this issue: Facing severe budget cuts, the Forest Service is selling off property, and considering closing some recreation sites it considers too expensive to maintain.

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Unsalvageable May 16, 2005


Despite angry environmentalists, rotting timber, and unenthusiastic logging companies, the Bush administration is determined to push logging on roadless land burned by the Biscuit Fire in southwestern Oregon. Also in this issue: The House of Representatives has just passed an energy bill that is even more outrageously friendly to industry than the Bush administration had requested.

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The Great Energy Divide May 02, 2005

The Great Energy Divide

Colorado citizens voted last November to increase their state’s reliance on power from the wind and sun, but King Coal still rules the state, and the White House seems determined to keep it on the throne. Also in this issue: Utah has finally convinced the Department of Energy to move the Atlas uranium mine tailings pile from its site just north of Moab, where the tailings are leaking into the Colorado River.

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What Happened to Winter? April 18, 2005

What Happened to Winter?

Scientists are struggling to understand winter in the West: the effects of the unusual weather on water and wildlife, and whether the changes are linked to global warming Also in this issue: Recently released e-mails show that federal employees falsified information about the safety of the proposed nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev.

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Calling It Quits April 04, 2005

Calling It Quits

Tough economics, drought, and increasing clashes with other public-lands users are leading some ranchers to consider taking the "golden saddle" – a check from conservationists in exchange for their grazing permits. Also in this issue: Two researchers say that the "Sustainable Slopes" program, touted by the National Ski Areas Association as a sign of the industry’s environmental responsibility, is little more than "greenwashing."

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An Empire Built on Sand March 21, 2005

An Empire Built on Sand

Rampant growth in the Phoenix area and a severe drought on the Colorado River challenge the sustainability of the Central Arizona Project. Also in this issue: A groundbreaking settlement between New Mexico environmentalists and the city of Albuquerque may keep water in the Middle Rio Grande and help both farmers and endangered silvery minnows.

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Anarchy in the Gas Fields March 07, 2005

Anarchy in the Gas Fields

In 1969, the Atomic Energy Commission exploded an underground nuclear bomb in western Colorado; today, the site of Project Rulison is attracting natural gas drillers. Also in this Issue: David Tenny of the Department of Agriculture has used his discretionary powers to alter the master plan for Colorado’s White River National Forest, lessening its protections for water and wildlife.

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Have Environmentalists Failed the West? February 21, 2005

Have Environmentalists Failed the West?

Soul Searching environmentalists fear they've become isolated and ineffective, but the story of Libby, Montana, and its dying residents, shows that the movements missteps are only part of the story.

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The Asphalt Graveyard February 07, 2005

The Asphalt Graveyard

A personal obsession leads the author into a world of scientists, wildlife rehabilitators and eccentric artists who are fascinated by the West’s road-killed wildlife. Also in this issue: Some of the less-publicized political appointments of George W. Bush’s second term will have a huge effect on the West – particularly the people who will direct the EPA, and the departments of Energy, Agriculture and the Interior.

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Written in the Rings January 24, 2005

Written in the Rings

The study of tree rings opens a window into the West’s distant past, and warns us that the region’s future may be dangerously hot and dry. Also in this issue: As the Colorado River Basin enters its sixth year of drought, the seven states that rely on the river for water are forced to work together on a new plan for water use.

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Stand Your Ground December 20, 2004

Stand Your Ground

Under increasing political pressure from the Bush administration and its appointees, some agency scientists are finding it difficult to keep both their jobs and their integrity. Also in this issue: The omnibus appropriations bill just passed by Congress contained more than a few anti-environmental riders, but not all of them survived for the president’s pen to sign.

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Where Do We Go From Here? December 06, 2004

Where Do We Go From Here?

HCN lays out the West's 10 most critical issues and the paths toward positive results on everything from energy development and drought to federal agency practices and endangered species. Also in this issue: A judge rules against a plan to salvage-log old-growth forest from the Timbered Rock Fire in Oregon, and some say the ruling could affect other proposed fire sales in old-growth forests.

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Conservationist in a Conservative Land November 22, 2004

Conservationist in a Conservative Land

Rick Johnson of the Idaho Conservation League is working with Republican Congressman Mike Simpson on a wilderness bill for the Boulder and White Cloud mountains, but not everybody in "Planet Idaho" is happy with the bill. Also in this issue: Many of the people who supported George Bush, a president with an anti-environmental record, also voted for environmental ballot measures and green-leaning candidates.

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Keepers of the Flame November 08, 2004

Keepers of the Flame

A new generation of fire managers works with fire, rather than just fighting it. Also in this issue: Ski bums try to survive in Ketchum, Idaho; the Sierras get a conservancy, and a river gnaws away at a tribal reservation

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