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Days of butterflies, days of rage

Our spring-like fall

See above, photographed by Desert Companion art director Christopher Smith during a ramble around the CSN Charleston campus. Mornings have been perfect lately — I've begun drinking coffee just so I can sit at a courtyard table, sip the stuff and marvel at the soft air. Sure, the forecasters say the mercury will plunge south soon. Fine. For now, I'll weather-hoard these gorgeous days, stockpiling them against the post-election er, chilly times to come. — Scott Dickensheets

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Hate coverage

Horror and sadness — not love — are what I felt this morning, looking at High Country News’s current investigative feature, “ Defuse the West,” by Ray Ring and Marshall Swearingen. But once I’d picked up the package of stories about Bundy Ranch-style confrontations with public lands officials in the Western U.S. over the last four years, I couldn’t put it down. Consider this example:

“A man upset about the seasonal closure of a road in Southern California’s Cleveland National Forest phoned the Descanso Ranger District office and threatened the female employee who answered the phone. He told her that he was going to ‘put a 12-gauge shotgun in someone’s face til he gets an answer.’”

So, what’s to love? The hard work that the scrappy nonprofit news organization put into the package, which includes an interactive map, an expert roundtable and a public forum. The project stems from thousands of pages of documents gathered over the last 10 months through Freedom of Information Act requests to BLM and Forest Service offices from Alaska to Mexico. The High Country News team meticulously culled these into the package’s centerpiece, “ Reports from the Front Lines,” comprising dozens of accounts like the one above to make the editors’ case: “There’s more than enough violence and extremism in the world today. Let’s do our part to try to defuse the West.” — Heidi Kyser

Scott Dickensheets is a Las Vegas writer and editor whose trenchant observations about local culture have graced the pages of publications nationwide.
Desert Companion welcomed Heidi Kyser as staff writer in January 2014. In 2018, she was promoted to senior writer and producer, working for both DC and State of Nevada. She produced KNPR’s first podcast, the Edward R. Murrow Regional Award-winning Native Nevada, in 2020. The following year, she returned her focus full-time to Desert Companion, becoming Deputy Editor, which meant she was next in line to take over when longtime editor Andrew Kiraly left in July 2022.