Back 40: National stories told locally.

Today the gulf between urban and rural communities feels wider than ever. Through embedding our reporters in the community, High Country News’  Back 40 series covers important national stories, locally.

The issues, people and places in these stories help tell the complex narrative of the rural West through the lens of HCN’s backyard in western Colorado to facilitate a better understand of these communities and to help bridge the cultural divide.

National stories told locally.
A revolution in hydropower makes waves in rural Colorado
A revolution in hydropower makes waves in rural Colorado
Big dams were the hydro giants of yesteryear. The future of hydropower is small.
In Colorado’s conservative corners, a push for gun control
In Colorado’s conservative corners, a push for gun control
Grand Junction teens broach a tense topic with community members.
Exchange or exploitation? Ski towns turn to foreign students
Exchange or exploitation? Ski towns turn to foreign students
The J-1 program is the main source of migrant labor for the ski industry.
‘Zombie trailers’ stalk a budding tourist town
‘Zombie trailers’ stalk a budding tourist town
A uranium town gone bust wants to rebuild, but derelict properties stand in its way.
The tiny power plant that shapes the Colorado River — merely by existing
The tiny power plant that shapes the Colorado River — merely by existing
The Shoshone power plant is the cornerstone for water rights in the upper river.
In rural Colorado, can art provide an economic engine?
In rural Colorado, can art provide an economic engine?
A small town invests in affordable housing for the creative sector.
As sediment builds, one dam faces its comeuppance
As sediment builds, one dam faces its comeuppance
Officials at a Colorado reservoir are reckoning with decades of accumulation.
Colorado’s biggest methane emitter may get a discount
Colorado’s biggest methane emitter may get a discount
In exchange, the state asks a coal mine to trap its gas—but the BLM won’t require it.
Forest Service confronts a popular hot springs’ overuse
Forest Service confronts a popular hot springs’ overuse
Rangers tackle the conundrum of protecting loved-to-death wilderness.
How farmers can help keep salt out of the Colorado River
How farmers can help keep salt out of the Colorado River
The solution to a basin-wide problem may fall to individual irrigators.
Neighbors clash over a Colorado chicken farm
Neighbors clash over a Colorado chicken farm
A local court decision lands on the side of a 15,000-hen operation.
The wine industry’s battle with climate change
The wine industry’s battle with climate change
Vineyards deal with drought, temperature swings and fruit that ripens too early.
Local power gets results for Thompson Divide
Local power gets results for Thompson Divide
New legislation could end a decade-long fight against oil and gas development.
Planes, pits & snowmobiles: how scientists get good data
Planes, pits & snowmobiles: how scientists get good data
A day in the field as researchers wring water data from Colorado’s snowpack.
Dispatch from coal country: Advocates and adversaries duel over leasing reform
Dispatch from coal country: Advocates and adversaries duel over leasing reform
In western Colorado, two visions for the future of fossil fuels collide at a BLM listening session.
In Colorado, a ‘rental crisis’ forces workers into the woods
In Colorado, a ‘rental crisis’ forces workers into the woods
Tent cities, waste and overcrowding have created something foul in Crested Butte.
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