Essays

Am I an invasive species?
Am I an invasive species?
How COVID-19 and ‘murder hornets’ compelled a writer to rethink invasions.
Heartache, compounded
Heartache, compounded
After her son’s death, a writer searches for a path forward through personal and climate grief.
Safe at home in Los Angeles
Safe at home in Los Angeles
Even under restrictions, the city shines for all to see.
It is very early springtime on Mt. St. Helens
Above, there once was a mountain; below, a new one is rising, a jumbled mound of steaming magma. Surrounding it, striped spires of rock shoot 2,000 feet straight up from the bottom of North America's most famous volcano.
What to do in the West when there's nothing to do
Argue with radio preachers. Sing hymns with Jimmy Joe Bobby and his Swinging Salvationeers. Defend secular humanism as a religion. And more ...
Spring in South Dakota
There is a quickening in the land.
The end of multiple use
Although we are now in a transition stage, forces are in motion that will bring to an end the domination of national forests by timber harvesting.
Ruminations on the ecology of wilderness trash
The great wilderness experience, at times, becomes a continuing obsession with inappropriately placed pop-tops, cigarette butts and Jiffy Pop tins. I am hopelessly addicted to collecting wilderness trash.
Not with bangs or whimpers, but with luxuries
"Perfect skipping stones" sold in the Early Winters catalogue provide the strongest single piece of evidence yet that Western civilization is collapsing on itself like a dwarf star.
The next time your radiator boils over, make soup
If your car is as hot as an oven, use it for one. Give a whirl to the newest summer craze -- car cookery.
The adaptable coyote comes in three temperaments
I've come to identify coyotes by the moods they're in when I see them or by the "lifestyles" they seem to have. First is the hair-trigger-what-the-hell-was-that coyote. Next is the don't-bother-me-I'm-busy coyote and last is the "sellout," or as I prefer, the let's-make-the-best-of-a-good-thing coyote.
Get the public off the public lands
Back in 1986, as environmentalists rallied to push ranchers off public land, nobody could have predicted how the issue would finally be resolved. A new movement was born: the most powerful and sweeping ever seen in natural resource management. It was born with the battle cry: "Get the public off public lands."
Reserve your condo now at the Stapleton Airport
An enterprising reporter has uncovered the secret of low air fares out of Stapleton Airport. Airlines are indeed losing money on each ticket sold. But they are simultaneously raking in enormous commissions from parking lots, news stands, food dispensers and bars.
A frugal desert creature is in deep trouble
There are no mysteries in the story of the demise of the desert tortoise. They are the same factors that have led to the demise of the Southwest itself.
Treating forests as if they had souls
Considering the educational priorities of most forestry schools, it is not surprising that our national forests are badly mismanaged as ecosystems.
Good dog, bad dog
If dogs were totally incompatible with wilderness living, our ancestors wouldn't have bothered having them around back in the days before concrete and the Gross National Product.
Today the rain blows in like a California tourist ...
Don Snow recounts a day fishing in Montana's Bitterroot Mountains.
Greeley said, 'Go West,' but fought the 19th century 'Great Barbeque' of public land
Horace Greeley, best know for saying 'Go West, young man," also said "Nature offers us good bargains, but she does not trust and will not be cheated."
Wolves: the animals that man created
Nowhere in human history has fiction so outdistanced fact as in the lore of the wolf. Along with spiders, snakes and sharks, Carl Jung lists the wolf as generating almost universal fear in the human psyche.
A matter between you and the strutting grouse
The quiet sounds of the sage grouse cannot be heard in places where men talk of energy crises, tradeoffs, balance of payments or national commitment. The burden of all this is too much for public servants to bear alone; now you share it.
Life in a heron rookery
Entering a blue heron rookery is like stepping back into prehistoric times with great, reptilian birds.
Gila Wilderness: Pocket of isolation
The Gila Wilderness -- the world's oldest formally protected wilderness area -- is an area of startling contrasts. In the canyons, brilliant red-flowered cacti bloom from crevices in the walls and purple violets flower in the damp maple, alder and oak streamside forests.
The oil shale kingdom
The author recalls a day spent amid the clean air, silence, and wildlife of Colorado's Piceance Basin -- an area slated for oil shale development.
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