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.
Gunnison sage grouse are vulnerable to climate chaos
Gunnison sage grouse are vulnerable to climate chaos
The dancing birds are especially susceptible to changing weather patterns, which is bad news going forward.
A water ‘win-win’ in Colorado? Not so fast.
A water ‘win-win’ in Colorado? Not so fast.
A plan to export water from the San Luis Valley to the Denver Metro area is met with defiance.
Colorado farmers fight to save their water and their community’s future
Colorado farmers fight to save their water and their community’s future
‘We can either wait on Mother Nature — or we can give it a shot ourselves.’
‘None of this happened the way you think it did’
‘None of this happened the way you think it did’
For years, the clients of a Colorado funeral home kept their loved ones’ cremated remains. Then the FBI called.
A wild winter threatens summer profits in Colorado’s high country
A wild winter threatens summer profits in Colorado’s high country
The potential for a cascade of water may slow the flow of tourists to Lake City.
An Indigenous Mexican community finds a home in rural Colorado
An Indigenous Mexican community finds a home in rural Colorado
Culture, traditions and people are moving across borders, powering two economies.
What the 2018 farm bill means for the West
What the 2018 farm bill means for the West
Lawmakers see hemp legalization and conservation funding as the big wins.
A high-stakes water reckoning looms in the West
A high-stakes water reckoning looms in the West
Be it a wet or a dry year, the water rich in Colorado’s North Fork Valley take their share.
A utility in coal country doubles down on renewables
A utility in coal country doubles down on renewables
‘You can politicize it all you want, but in the end economics is really what drives it.’
Republicans tout hemp’s potential
Republicans tout hemp’s potential
The crop could be a lifeline for struggling agricultural communities.
The Colorado valley at stake in Trump’s oil boom
The Colorado valley at stake in Trump’s oil boom
After coal waned, a community redefined itself. Will new leases turn back the clock?
Aspen may stockpile water under its golf course
Aspen may stockpile water under its golf course
As climate change looms, towns look to store water without dams.
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.
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