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Know the West

High Country News to invest $10 million for expanded staff and technology

The 50-year old magazine plans to bring its stories to a wider audience.


Fifty years have passed since Tom Bell, a Wyoming rancher and wildlife biologist, started the gritty black-and-white tabloid newspaper that would evolve into an award-winning full-color magazine — High Country News.

Today, new publisher Greg Hanscom announced ambitious plans for the nonprofit organization — part of an effort to commemorate the publication's 50th anniversary and put it on a path for the next half-century.

High Country News is an irreplaceable Western institution,” Hanscom said. “For five decades, we’ve told the stories that no other media outlet can about the West’s precious water, our public lands and wildlife. We’ve chronicled the evolution of the Sagebrush Rebellion and the rise of Indigenous people, who are demanding more of a say over the fate of their ancestral lands. Now it’s time for HCN to expand its horizons — to bring these stories to a wider audience, and to draw a more diverse West into the community of people who are shaping the region’s future.”

Hanscom announced that High Country News will invest $10 million in expanding its editorial staff and freelancers, endowing its intern and fellowship program, overhauling its website, and developing its internal marketing staff. He plans to pay for the expansion through a capital fundraising campaign that has already garnered $5 million in pledged support.

“Our journalism is as vital as rain in the desert.”

“Our journalism is as vital as rain in the desert,” Hanscom said. “At a time when so many other newsrooms are shrinking, this organization is growing stronger and even more dedicated to serving the West’s far-flung communities. Our 50th anniversary is the perfect occasion to launch High Country News into the future.”

For more information about High Country News fundraising campaign and 50th celebration plans, go to hcn.org/50-years


Decorated World War II veteran and Wyoming wildlife biologist Tom Bell founded High Country News in 1970 in order to raise concerns about the mounting threats extractive industries posed to the West’s land, air, water and wildlife. Bell wrote many articles himself and tapped Western writers, editors and photographers to create what would become one of the first environmental periodicals dedicated to the West. 

Evan Bolt

Today, High Country News is the nation’s leading source of reporting on the Western United States. Headquartered in the rural town of Paonia, Colorado, the nonprofit publishes an award-winning magazine and a popular website, along with special reports and books. Since its earliest days as a 16-page black-and-white tabloid, High Country News has broadened its coverage to include the complex web of relationships between ecology, culture, economics and politics. In 2018, it became the first non-Indigenous publication to open an Indigenous Affairs desk, staffed by Native American journalists and focused on covering the vast archipelago of tribal nations in the West.

From Alaska and the Northern Rockies to the desert Southwest, the Great Plains to the West Coast, High Country News covers 12 Western states and hundreds of Indigenous communities. It is an essential source of information for people who care about this region. HCN’s print and online magazine has more than 36,000 subscribers, including policymakers, educators, public-land managers, environmental professionals, outdoor enthusiasts and thousands more. Its website attracts nearly 400,000 sessions each month, and its online archives are unusually deep, stretching from the first issue in 1970 to today.


Greg Hanscom, executive director/publisher
[email protected]



Alyssa Pinkerton, director of philanthropy
[email protected]