High Country News
Pondering public lands and the energy transition conundrum
Fighting the climate crisis will require difficult choices. This is an installment of the Landline, a fortnightly newsletter from High Country News about land, water, wildlife, climate and conservation in the Western United States. Sign up to get it in your inbox. In early November, at a meeting of Western...
Solutions to the gender pay gap for Native women may live at home
This story was originally published by The 19th and is republished here by permission. For Native American women, the gender pay gap reflects the systems that have oppressed them for centuries. The colonization that stripped them of power, the violence now plaguing them and the economic institutions that have left them behind — those factors have helped form a gap in income and wages that is among the widest of any group of women.
We need to reframe our thinking about what’s wild
Like many others, I typically listen to my local public radio station while I’m driving, my attention drifting in and out as I gaze out of the windshield. But my ears pricked up on a recent morning once I realized the entire newscast was dedicated to local wildlife. There...
Bozeman’s next mayor on housing, tattoos and the West
The 28-year-old mayor-elect, Joey Morrison, shares his plans for boosting community engagement and building neighborhoods for all Montanans. Joey Morrison, a 28-year-old social worker, housing organizer and lifelong Montanan, recently toppled incumbent Cyndy Andrus to become the next mayor of Bozeman. He’ll serve for two years as deputy mayor and then step into the top role in January 2026. High Country News called to ask about his plans for the city.
How the New Mexico whiptail became a gay icon
Confetti Westerns is a serial column by Miles W. Griffis that explores the queer natural and cultural histories of the American Southwest. In the hot sun, the sandstone layers of the canyon were like melting Neapolitan ice cream, the strawberry of the Jurassic entrada liquifying under the weight of vanilla and chocolate. I followed a slim trail of pink puddles through archways of junipers and found myself in the landscape depicted in Georgia O’Keeffe’s 1940 painting Untitled (Red and Yellow Cliffs), a trippy oil that shows the precipice that towers over her beloved Ghost Ranch topped by a tiny slice of blue sky served à la mode.
First direct cash assistance program exclusively for Indigenous parents launched
The Nest, a Washington nonprofit program, seeks to serve Native people during and after pregnancy. Indigenous people in the United States experience one of the highest maternal mortality rates of any ethnic group. A report filed this year by the Washington State Department of Health found that American Indians and Alaska Natives in Washington are eight and a half times more likely to die during pregnancy than white people and are twice as likely to die during pregnancy as Black people. The report found that 80% of the maternal deaths were preventable, and that racism, poverty, and cultural stigma contribute to the high mortality rates.
Recover the redwoods landscape
This article was originally published by YaleEnvironment360 and is republished here by permission. Lyndon Johnson signed the bill that established the Redwood National Park in California 55 years ago. It was a long time coming, with proposals blocked in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s by an industry that was beavering through the most valuable timberlands on the planet. When the National Park Service recommended a park again in 1964, bipartisan support in the Senate, a nod from President Johnson and, I believe, the trees’ own power to inspire eventually got a deal through Congress.
Has Montana solved its housing crisis?
Connie Howell has lived in Montana for 40 years, nearly half that time in a tan-and-brick apartment complex in Bozeman. It’s always been a pleasant place, with a small courtyard and distant views of the Bridger Mountains. But since 2015, the rent for the one-bedroom unit that she shares with her husband, Chris, has nearly doubled.
A sausage fusing Chinese and Mexican cultures is spicing up Tucson
I am the child of a Chinese immigrant father and a white American mother, and I grew up amid the sunlight and saguaros of Tucson, Arizona. As a kid, I had no idea about the long and rich history of Chinese people in Tucson. In school, we were taught a history of America that appeared to take place only in California, New York and Washington D.C. Not here.
Wildfires are thawing the tundra
Researchers discovered recently burned areas emit more methane gas than the rest of the landscape. Chunks of carbon-rich frozen soil, or permafrost, undergird much of the Arctic tundra. This perpetually frozen layer sequesters carbon from the atmosphere, sometimes storing it for tens of thousands of years beneath the boggy ground.
Report finds Arizona 911 dispatchers fail to help lost migrants
On June 27, 2022, around 1:44 a.m., a man lost in the desert outside Tucson, Arizona called 911. An emergency services dispatcher for Pima County answered. The man, clearly distressed, tried to describe his surroundings and explain that he was lost, wet and freezing. But before he could finish, the dispatcher interrupted him, saying, “I don’t understand, un momento,” and abruptly transferred the call to the U.S. Border Patrol. The agent who picked up shushed the caller as he started to speak —“Cállate!” (“Be quiet!”) — and spoke to the dispatcher instead, in English. Then they hung up, leaving the man to the agent. An incident report suggests that no actions were taken to follow up or locate the lost caller: “No additional calls have come from the subject. … At this time the caller has not been identified and not located.”
The era of the Black Western has arrived. Is it here to stay?
The miniseries, ‘Lawmen: Bass Reeves,’ doesn’t fully live up to its potential to showcase a multifaceted Black identity. Cowboys — and by association the region they roam, the West — are, as a recent New York Times article put it, having a moment. While the Paramount+ television show, Yellowstone, has gotten much of the shine, this particular “moment,” unlike those before it, has also featured multiple on-screen portrayals of the African Americans who, historically, made up a not insignificant portion of Western homesteaders and, yes, cowboys.
Another gunky, toxic season for Utah waters
Harmful algae blooms, fueled by warming temperatures and nutrient runoff, plague the state. When harmful algae blooms spread across lakes, rivers and reservoirs, they sometimes resemble spilled paint or gobs of mucus — even grass clippings. Fueled by heat and high levels of nutrients, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus, from wastewater discharge and fertilizer runoff, clusters of cyanobacteria produce toxins that can sicken people, pets, livestock and wildlife. Once a water body experiences its first harmful bloom, dormant bacterial cells linger, increasing the likelihood of another outbreak by orders of magnitude.
New Mexico’s displaced coal miners have gotten the shaft on severance pay
In early 2022, the San Juan coal mine outside of Farmington, New Mexico, was preparing to shut down, along with the coal-fired power plant it fed. Meanwhile, Dave and a small crew continued to work underground, running the machinery that extracted the coal. But it wasn’t going well: “Everything that could go wrong did,” he said. (“Dave” is a pseudonym; he asked that his real name not be used, since he continues to work in the coal industry.)
Pro skier Lily Bradley disrupts mountain culture in new queer ski film
In ‘People Like Us,’ LGBTQ+ skiers take center stage. In a dazzling shot in the new ski film, People Like Us, freeskier Lily Bradley drops in from a ridge, slashing through a snowfield. In a series of spins, flips and grabs, Bradley racks up points in a freeride competition, a discipline based on expression, creativity and style. Bradley, a genderqueer skier from Lake Tahoe, California, has been skiing since they were two and competing on the freeride world tour since the age of 18. But years of training and traveling in remote ski towns offered little opportunity to connect with the larger queer community. This fall, Bradley and filmmaker Ryan Collins set out to share the experience of LGBTQ+ skiers in rural communities.
With a married man not long ago. He was my husband. My days go on. Cecily Parks is the author of three poetry collections, including. , forthcoming from Alice James Books in 2025. She teaches in the MFA program at Texas State University.
When burn scars become roaring earthen rivers
Two Septembers ago, the residents of Grotto, Washington, woke to the Bolt Creek Fire ripping through the mountains above their homes. “This doesn’t happen here,” Patricia Vasquez remembers saying at the time, shocked. While areas east of the state’s Cascade mountains frequently burn in the summer, Grotto is on the mountains’ western side, in a wetter climate, where fires had been infrequent but are now increasingly common. Vasquez evacuated with her husband, Lorenzo, Ava, their dog, and the fresh Alaska halibut they’d just caught while on vacation. Elizabeth Walther, their neighbor, evacuated with a puppy, but her husband, Richard, a ski patroller, stayed behind to hose down the house.
‘It’s my way of remembering who I am and why I do what I do’
#iamthewest: Giving voice to the people that make up communities in the region. (Seminole Nation of Oklahoma) Senior associate attorney at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton. I learned to make traditional powwow regalia from my mother. It’s my rest and recovery from the work that I do as a lawyer; it’s my way of remembering who I am and why I do what I do. Dancing at powwows was one of the things that originally inspired me to be an attorney. During grand entry, I would hear our elders and tribal leaders talk about the legal challenges that Indian Country has faced. The federal — and even state — governments, have used the law to try and dispossess us of that culture. I’m very proud to be able to wear my traditional regalia and know the stories of each piece. It reminds me that Indigenous people persevered against that dispossession, and that I need to do the same so that future generations can continue to wear regalia proudly.
California’s Central Valley chinook are getting lost on their way home
Picture yourself: a chinook salmon, in the prime of your life. You dart through the water off California’s central coast, winding through kelp and dodging hungry sea lions. Long, sleek and silver, dappled with dark spots. Eyes wide and vigilant; 50 pounds of pure muscle. You’ve been out at...
Readers describe how they first ran into the magazine in the wild. In September, I asked you to send in your stories about encountering High Country News in the wild — the first time the magazine crossed your path or a noteworthy rendezvous with a reader. A hearty thanks to everyone who responded. We hope the stickers we sent spark yet more conversations and encounters. (If you want a sticker, write me at [email protected].)
High Country News
High Country News is a nonprofit 501(c)3 independent media organization that covers the important issues and stories that define the Western United States. Our mission is to inform and inspire people to act on behalf of the West's diverse natural and human communities by providing unblinking journalism that shines a light on all of the complexities of the West.