Female sage grouse at the Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge, Wyoming.
The Interior Department is expanding oil and gas leasing on land in six western states that is vital habitat for the greater sage grouse. Lawsuits are certain to follow.
Smoke billows from the High Park wildfire west of Fort Collins, Colo., on June 11, 2012, a year of historic drought across much of the western United States.
AP Photo/Ed Andrieski
Some observers have blamed recent wildfires on poor forest management, while others point to climate change. In fact, a climate scientist explains, reducing fire risks means tackling both issues.
The 2016 Maple fire (photographed in July 2017) reburned young forests that had regenerated after the 1988 Yellowstone fires. More frequent high-severity fires are expected in the future as climate warms, which may change patterns of forest recovery.
Huge fires roared through Yellowstone National Park in the summer of 1988, scorching one-third of the park. Since then the park has been a valuable lab for studying how forests recover from fires.
Water from an irrigation system sprays flowering cotton plants on the farm of Allen Entz in Hydro, Okla, Aug. 16, 2012.
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
The Ogalalla Aquifer is a vast underground lake that irrigates farms across the US Great Plains. It took thousands of years to fill, but human use could drain it in roughly a century.
‘Early Days.’ Detail of Frank Happersberger’s pioneer monument, San Francisco, California, 1894. Photo by Lisa Allen.
Many cities are removing their Confederate statues. But pioneer monuments represent a racist past, too. There are at least 200 of them, and their future is now being debated.
The Carr Fire tears through Shasta, California, July 26, 2018.
AP Photo/Noah Berger
Climate change, development, past forest management policies and current firefighting practices are creating conditions for large, costly wildfires.
Male sage grouse at the Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge, Wyoming.
The Trump administration is reopening a plan negotiated under President Obama to protect Western sage grouse. This could signal to states not to bother working together to protect other endangered species.
The Berry Fire burns in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, August 27, 2016.
AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File
With elevated wildfire risks forecast across much of the western US this summer, here's how travelers can track local conditions, stay out of harm's way and avoid accidentally starting fires.
A blizzard in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, in 2005.
Governments and private companies have been seeding clouds to create snow for decades, without proof that it actually works. A recent study peered into clouds in search of answers.
Warning sign at Kerr-McGee uranium mill site near Grants, N.M., December 20, 2007.
AP photo/Susan Montoya Bryan
The Trump administration's push for 'energy dominance' could spur a new wave of domestic uranium production. A scholar describes the damage done in past uranium booms and the visible scars that remain.
Trees burn in the High Park wildfire near Fort Collins, Colorado, June 17, 2012.
Much disaster reporting simply chronicles events, but good journalism digs deeper and examines causes. Stories about Colorado wildfires have raised questions about risk, especially on fire anniversaries.
Lake Powell, photographed April 12, 2017. The white ‘bathtub ring’ at the cliff base indicates how much higher the lake reached at its peak, nearly 100 feet above the current level.
The Colorado River supplies water to millions of people and irrigates thousands of miles of farmland. New research warns that climate change is likely to magnify droughts in the Colorado Basin.
A Mexican who was recently deported from the U.S. in Tijuana, Mexico.
From Chinese laborers to 'bad hombres,' the US settler mentality has perpetuated an immigration system that pushes out unwanted groups and bypasses the Constitution.
Members and supporters of the Arapaho and Cheyenne Native American tribes, 2014.
AP Photo/Brennan Linsley
A scholar of American Indian studies shares the lesser-known, true story of two men who stood up and spoke out against the murder of American Indians, and how they are celebrated as heroes today.
Supporters of Ammon and Ryan Bundy and other militants who took over the Malheur Wildlife Refuge celebrate after they were found not guilty of conspiracy charges.
Alex Milan Tracy/Sipa via AP Images
Acquitted in the Malheur takeover trial, Ryan Bundy urges protests against efforts to conserve public lands. Who will protect federal employees?
Gravel bed rivers and their floodplains are vital to local ecosystems and their ability to adapt to climate change.
Conservation methods for gravel-bed rivers – which are ecological hotspots in the western U.S. – need to improve in order to deal with the effects of climate change.
Western water law means collecting rainwater was legal only a few years ago in some states.
rain barrel via www.shutterstock
States, including Colorado, restrict the use of rain barrels. A water law scholar says a better way to conserve is reduce waste from big – and powerful – water users.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah.
Behind the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon lie decades of controversy over federal control of public land in western states.
The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is part of a complicated history of land in the western US.
US Fish and Wildlife Service
Like much federal land in the US West, the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge has a long history tied to Native Americans’ plight and conflicts between settlers and the federal government.