“Fracking in New Mexico” nominated for Edible Local Hero Award

My story from last December, “Fracking in New Mexico creates uncertain future for land and people,” was nominated by Edible Santa Fe for its Edible Writer/Best Story award. This is the second year in a row that I have been nominated.

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From the Desk of Michael Dax: What Yellowstone delisting means for Bitterroot Grizzlies

UNP blog

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMichael Dax is the author of Grizzly West: A Failed Attempt to Reintroduce Grizzly Bears in the Mountain West (Nebraska, 2015). He lives and writes in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Last summer, in its second attempt since 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service deemed grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem recovered. When conservation efforts first began in the early 1980s, the bears’ population had dwindled below 150, but with roughly 700 grizzlies currently inhabiting the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the Service removed federal protections and returned management to the states of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.

But following a court decision last autumn regarding wolf populations in the Great Lake states that hinged on an obscure provision of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) related to geographically isolated species, the Service opened a comment period to accept public input on how treating Yellowstone grizzlies as a distinct population would affect other grizzly populations…

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The Trek: Learning to Read the Landscape

Over the past decade, more and more thru-hikers have ditched maps and have instead opted for guides like The A.T. Guide or Yogi’s Pacific Crest Trail Handbook that stick to the highlights – water sources, shelters, road crossings, AYCE buffets and other necessary information. They’re lighter, more compact, and easier to use. Considering the map set for Appalachian Trail contains 43 (yes, 43) maps, the logistics of figuring out when you need what maps is enough to convince even the staunchest traditionalist to ditch the topos and grab the crib notes.

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The Trek: Nothing Weighs Nothing

Seven hundred miles into my 2011 Appalachian Trail thru-hike, I met Scavenger. From Germany, Scavenger exuded the look of the classic European mountaineer with a wide-brimmed brown felt hat, heavy leather hiking boots and a backpack that towered over his head. He had earned his trail name due to his indiscriminating penchant for adding to his back whatever he found along the trail, in shelters or in town. By the time I met him outside Catawba, Virginia, his pack had grown to 70 pounds, weighed down by frivolous items like a small hatchet and a mirror he claimed to have never used. “But it weighs nothing!” he said in defense of the comb that had yet to stroke a single hair follicle. Continue reading

A Simple Email Can Help Save the 27 National Monument Areas on Trump’s List

By Michael Dax and Tracy Matsue Loeffelholz, originally published in Yes! Magazine


Presidents, both Republican and Democrat, have made “monuments” out of hundreds of millions of acres of public lands to protect them from development, and no president has ever “unprotected” them. The Trump administration has now singled out 27 national monument areas to do just that.

But first, the Department of the Interior says it wants to hear from the public. On May 12, it will begin an official public comment period on the specific areas under review. Continue reading