Issues

Atomic Tourists
Atomic Tourists
In our annual outdoor recreation and travel issue, we take a road trip through the West's atomic past and lament the loss of a quiet sanctuary in New Mexico. We look at the economics of recreation and a guerrilla visitor's center for Bears Ears National Monument. We rethink access and design for disabilities in the outdoors, and consider what melting glaciers mean to mountaineering. We report on the loss of quiet, thanks to military overflights. We ask how long-distance running – not to mention walking – can re-familiarize a person with a place. And we think deeply on the currents that define our lives – and the courses of rivers. As we prepare for HCN’s 50th anniversary, read our latest initiative, “On the Road to 50."
A History of Violence
A History of Violence
In this issue, we take a look at the dark and hidden history of California's missions: the impact the system had on Indigenous peoples there. We also analyze New Mexico's Energy Transition Act, examine shareholder power to curb climate change, highlight Oregonian efforts to watch for oil trains, and investigate the nationwide problem of racism against Native athletes, coaches and fans. We travel to Santa Fe, where schoolchildren learn about inequity the hard way, discuss the important ways trees connect us all, and we revisit the historic cries of “socialism” that rose amid the establishment of public lands.
Scene of the Crime
Scene of the Crime
In this issue, we trace the death of an endangered pupfish that landed a man in prison. We look at ways Western politicians are pushing back against citizen ballot initiatives; the implications of new research indicating that fish feel pain; and the ways in which California’s Karuk tribe is managing for wildfires — whether the law likes it or not. We check in with a Borderlands sheriff who disagrees with the Trump administration’s “emergency,” and question the moral dimensions of a recent mountain lion death in Colorado. We also review a new documentary giving writer M. Scott Momaday a movie worth his talents, and a writer ponders the disastrous differences between the Exxon Valdez spill and the ongoing climate change catastrophe.
Arizona's Wild Horse Paradox
Arizona's Wild Horse Paradox
In this issue, we travel to Arizona, where the West's “wild” horse problem is as enigmatic as ever. We also delve into the bankruptcy of California energy company PG&E following catastrophic wildfires, and we examine questions of intellectual property questions around Indigenous recordings, which were often made and sold without permission. We check in on Utah bees and dive into a complicated conservation arrangement on undeveloped California land. In our essays and reviews, we look back at historic public lands policies; showcase photography from the gay rodeo circuit; and examine racism in language in California's Dixie School District.
El Nuevo Movimiento
El Nuevo Movimiento
In this issue, we examine Chicano movements that are beginning to embrace immigration as an issue, a surprising development spurred by recent national policies. We also analyze a major public-lands bill just passed in Congress; a water grab in Idaho; a crackdown on humanitarian aid along the southern border; and a Portland neighborhood that is already adopting the principles of a Green New Deal. We take a close look at Pinal County, Arizona, where climate change is forcing tough agricultural choices. We also discuss why environmental victories don’t guarantee economic justice, and we explore the surprising challenges faced by women of color when it comes to public lands.
Barriers to Entry
Barriers to Entry
In this issue, we delve into the white supremacist past — and present — of Portland, Oregon. We meet Sam Thompson, a Portland resident who wants city officials to change racist policies that have persisted for decades. We also examine the impacts of the January government shutdown on residents of rural Washington — where federal workers aren’t exactly welcome. We explore an education model on the Mexican border that helps children caught amid family-straining deportation policies. We take an extended trip into the contemporary artwork of a prominent Lakota family, and learn the historical elusiveness of border security.
Nizhoni Girls
Nizhoni Girls
In this issue, we pay homage to image-heavy storytelling, through a short comic that tells the story of a surf rock band in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Indigenous storytelling has long been interested in recording collective history, and here we honor that tradition. In other stories, we dive into divisions over the Green New Deal, how heat hits poorer neighborhoods harder, and why Wyoming's public lands are the least accessible than any other state. Read why you should be eating roadkill, and how Elizabeth Warren’s claims to Native ancestry are damaging to Indigenous communities. And learn how the federal shutdown damaged good science.
What Killed Washington's Carbon Tax?
What Killed Washington's Carbon Tax?
In our first issue of the year, we examine the failure of Washington’s carbon tax as a way to discuss the challenge of climate policy. We also dive into the strange relationship between burrowing owls and agriculture near the Salton Sea; analyze the ways in which hunters and anglers are weighing in on politics; and examine how Indigenous podcasting is taking the “true crime” genre to new levels, allowing it to discuss major issues in new ways.
Good news, bad news
Good news, bad news
Our last issue of 2018 is dedicated to examining the impact of “news deserts” across the West, while highlighting the stubborn media “blooms” that point the way toward a brighter future. Our feature story asks whether journalists can adapt to the changing news ecosystem quickly enough. We also dive into what happens when local news sources dry up, highlight Denver's powerhouse editor and founder of Westword, Patricia Calhoun, and interview an artist on how new Indigenous comics are changing stereotypes and providing identity for kids.
Critical Mass
Critical Mass
The future of nuclear power is more uncertain than ever, so this issue includes two features that examine the forbidden power — its legacy and its possibilities. Meanwhile, we look at tunnels underneath the border wall; investigation errors for missing and murdered Indigenous women; a wayward pocket of Alaska yellow cedars; an interview with Democratic Rep. Raúl Grijalva, the soon-to-be majority head for the House Committee on Natural Resources; and more.
Follow the fish
Follow the fish
Human impact on the West is explored in this issue. On the border between Wyoming and Montana, river otters now scamper where they weren’t found until after the 1960s. The animals may have been drawn to the plateau by the fish stocked in its alpine lakes. Our other feature story looks at the scourge of microplastics: tiny particles that are now ubiquitous in our environment, our water and even our food. Stories examining whether to label anti-Indian groups hate groups, the wisdom gained on a dogsled in the Arctic, a plan that paves the way for more oil and gas drilling in New Mexico and more round out this issue.
Old Wests, and new
Old Wests, and new
We take a break from covering current events with our annual Books & Authors special issue, which hits themes familiar to every Westerner, echoing the conflicts common to our million-square-mile region. Book reviews, author Q&As, memoirs, excerpts and essays reimagine our relationships to each other, and to the land.
When your neighborhood goes BOOM
When your neighborhood goes BOOM
The West is experiencing growing pains, as its cities continue to expand. This issue's feature takes you inside the night of an oil and gas explosion in suburban Colorado, where drilling and production facilities are springing up next to new neighborhoods and schools. Inside the issue, we also investigate efforts to bring more people and water to southern Utah, where the estimated costs for the Lake Powell Pipeline don't seem to add up. Also in this issue are stories about the president's attack on public lands and how that may help Democrats in November's elections; how to battle climate dread; and an artist's response to the 20-year anniversary of Matthew Shepard's murder in Wyoming – and more.
Nature Retreat
Nature Retreat
This issue is bound by the idea that the ecological crises are inseparable from the problem of human domination. Our feature story describes a coastal town in Southern California that is asking whether it can, or should, retreat inland from rising seas. Also in this issue: The Navajo Nation's renewed police force, prisoner strikes, conspiracy theories in Arizona and a tribute to the life and work of Ed Marston, one of NewTowncarShare News' longtime visionaries.
The Pioneer of Ruin
The Pioneer of Ruin
The idea of home plays a major role in this issue. Our feature examines the struggles and triumphs of one woman building a life in a hardscrabble corner of the Utah desert, while another story profiles a community whose members have taken it upon themselves to fight the fires threatening their homes. This issue also digs into one family’s unlikely turn toward hemp to save their ranch, and an opera giving voice to people who lived downwind of the 1945 Trinity atomic bomb test.
The Big Threat to Bighorns
The Big Threat to Bighorns
In the cover story for this issue, Assistant Editor Paige Blankenbuehler investigates the agricultural influences behind Colorado’s state wildlife commission that are impacting a bighorn herd in a vast wilderness. Wildlife stories abound in this issue, as grizzly bears are hunted in Wyoming and Idaho, and beavers help a desert bloom in Nevada.
Where the West is Moving - and Why
Where the West is Moving - and Why
This Big Ideas Special Issue is dedicated to migration and the myriad ways it continues to reshape the American West — through the movement of people, plants, animals, and ideas, and their constant flux. These days, the biggest driver of change is the challenge of a chaotic climate and the movement of people, and from communities ignored by the American West's founding myth of Manifest Destiny.
What Are We Doing Here?
What Are We Doing Here?
As wildfires and drought return year after year to the West, some communities bear the brunt more than others. In this issue's feature, Contributing Editor Cally Carswell reflects on whether she should stay in a place experiencing climate change as rapidly as Santa Fe, New Mexico, and what it means to make a home there. Assistant Editor Emily Benson looks at another facet of climate change in the Southwest, how it no longer faces a drought but a steady aridification, and how word changes may help change water-use behavior. This issue also explores how rural communities in Montana are dealing with mental health crises, and more.
Pay for Prey
Pay for Prey
Our society has deep sympathy for and allegiance to the image of the Western cowboy. That sentiment plays out in the news story of two Oregon ranchers serving time for arson of public lands receiving a presidential pardon, as well as this issue's feature, which looks into a troubled Oregon program that reimburses ranchers for livestock killed by the state's burgeoning wolf population. Meanwhile in North Dakota, Indigenous women are missing and being murdered at high rates, with little attention being given to the crises.
Little Weed, Big Problem
Little Weed, Big Problem
A rural town in eastern Oregon is dealing with the fallout after a genetically modified grass escapes the confines of experimental fields. The herbicide-resistant turf clogs irrigation canals and ditches — and illustrates the mile-wide regulatory loopholes that are failing to contain the spread of genetically engineered crops. Also in this issue, the Trump administration threatens the delicate balance between tranquility and solar energy development in the California desert, the Grand Canyon may face a new era of uranium mining and a photo essay explores the displaced native creatures of the Los Angeles River.
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