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Kirk Siegler

As a correspondent on NPR's national desk, Kirk Siegler covers rural life, culture and politics from his base in Boise, Idaho.

His beat explores the intersection and divisions between rural and urban America, including longer term reporting assignments that have taken him frequently to a struggling timber town in Idaho that lost two sawmills right before the election of President Trump. In 2018, after the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history, Siegler spent months chronicling the diaspora of residents from Paradise, exploring the continuing questions over how – or whether – the town should rebuild in an era of worsening climate-driven wildfires.

Siegler's award winning reporting on the West's bitter land use controversies has taken listeners to the heart of anti-government standoffs in Oregon and Nevada, including a rare interview with recalcitrant rancher Cliven Bundy. He's also profiled numerous ranching and mining communities from Nebraska to New Mexico that have worked to reinvent themselves in a fast-changing global economy.

Siegler also contributes extensively to the network's breaking news coverage, from floods and hurricanes in Louisiana to deadly school shootings in Connecticut. In 2015, he was awarded an international reporting fellowship from Johns Hopkins University to report on health and development in Nepal. While en route to the country, the worst magnitude earthquake to hit the region in more than 80 years struck. The fellowship was cancelled, but Siegler was one of the first foreign journalists to arrive in Kathmandu and helped lead NPR's coverage of the immediate aftermath of the deadly quake. He also filed in-depth reports focusing on the humanitarian disaster and challenges of bringing relief to some of the Nepal's far-flung rural villages.

Before helping open the network's first ever bureau in Idaho at the studios of Boise State Public Radio in 2019, Siegler was based at the NPR West studios in Culver City, California. Prior to joining NPR in 2012, Siegler spent seven years reporting from Colorado, where he became a familiar voice to NPR listeners reporting on politics, water and the state's ski industry from Denver for NPR Member station KUNC. He got his start in political reporting covering the Montana Legislature for Montana Public Radio.

Apart from a brief stint working as a waiter in Sydney, Australia, Siegler has spent most of his adult life living in the West. He grew up in Missoula, Montana, and received a journalism degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

President Trump has dramatically scaled back two national land monuments in Utah. The administration and Republican leaders in Utah say taking the land out of the hands of the federal government will allow the state to decide what to do with it, including protecting some areas and possibly allowing development in others.

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Updated at 9:30 p.m. ET

On a visit to Utah on Monday, President Trump announced his proclamations dramatically shrinking the size of the state's two massive national monuments, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. Taken together, Trump's orders mark the largest reversal of national monument protections in U.S. history.

The change has already been challenged in court by conservation groups.

Cliven Bundy is finally set to face a federal jury.

Bundy is the recalcitrant Nevada rancher who has refused to recognize the U.S. government's control of public land, and is accused of leading an armed standoff against federal agents in April 2014. Bundy owed more than a million dollars in unpaid grazing leases and fines. But when the Bureau of Land Management came to round up his cows, it was met by an armed citizen militia and were forced to stand down.

Chris Hernstrom was brewing in the craft beer mecca of Bend, Ore., when an ad caught his eye: Want to live somewhere gorgeous and make beer for a small community?

"It just seemed like an interesting challenge to come out to basically the exact opposite of Bend, some place where the brewing industry is still in its fledgling stages," Hernstrom says.

That place, Hernstrom's new home, is the cattle ranching hub of Valentine, Neb., population 2,700, tucked into the Niobrara River valley in the Sand Hills.

A federal judge in Las Vegas on Friday will consider a motion to delay the start of next week's high profile trial of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his militia associates.

Next door to the Mandalay Bay casino where Sunday night's shooting rampage occurred on the Las Vegas strip, British tourist Gary Shepherd was struggling like nearly everyone else to process what happened.

"Whether this will finally change your gun laws, I fancy not, personally," Shepherd says.

The country's latest – and now deadliest in recent history – mass shooting has again reignited debate over gun control, and whether tougher gun laws could prevent future tragedies.

The early analysis is that Shepherd's hunch is probably right.

Hunters, fishermen and other sportsmen had high expectations when Ryan Zinke was tapped to be President Trump's interior secretary, in part because of his promise to bring a balanced, Teddy Roosevelt-style vision to managing public lands.

But the former Republican congressman from Montana is now the target of a critical ad campaign by one of those groups, a symptom of eroding support among a deep-pocketed faction that has become increasingly influential.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton says he's "under no illusions" that President Trump will heed a late-hour plea to postpone a campaign rally planned in his city for Tuesday night.

"We don't want to cancel the presidential visit overall, but a delay would be the appropriate action by the White House," Stanton said at a news conference Monday afternoon.

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Heavily armed militia members and white nationalists listing the crimes of the federal government on camera. That's what happened in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend. And it's also what happened 25 years ago at Ruby Ridge.

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson is pledging to do all he can to help displaced residents of two derelict public housing projects in the small, southern Illinois river town of Cairo.

The secretary paid a visit Tuesday to the town, which is on life support.

"There is a big problem here," Carson said at a hastily organized forum in the high school gym. "We have to do everything that we have the ability to do to fix it."

In the rural West, the jailed rancher Cliven Bundy and his militia followers were early and savvy users of social media. Bundy is the man who inspired two armed standoffs against federal agents over control of U.S. public lands.

For Heather Gijanto, going to the doctor means taking a day off work and driving at least 60 miles round trip from her home in McNeal, Ariz., to the town of Bisbee. And that is assuming there is a primary care doctor available in Bisbee to get her in.

"You select one doctor and then you find out a few months later that that doctor is no longer going to be available," Gijanto says. "So then you have to start the whole process over again. And then you find that doctor and, for whatever reason, that doctor leaves as well."

Rush hour in Big Sur, Calif., has taken on a whole new meaning.

Most mornings and afternoons, a newly built footpath that plunges through a grove of towering redwoods is clogged with workers and schoolchildren.

That hiking trail is a lifeline. It circumnavigates a bridge on the Pacific Coast Highway that has been closed since February, after it collapsed from rain and mudslides. Without that path, much of the village of Big Sur would be cut off from the outside world.

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Russian Americans have been among President Donald Trump's most loyal supporters. After a week of scandals, many say they're unfazed by the recent scandals roiling Washington.

Cattle roam on federal public land beneath the Bears Ears buttes in Utah.

Marches in support of worker rights and labor unions are taking place around the world Monday, dubbed "May Day." Here in the U.S., they're expected to draw larger than usual crowds due to President Trump's efforts to crack down on immigration.

In heavily Latino Los Angeles, where labor unions also hold big sway, community organizers spent much of the last weekend doing last minute planning and logistics, as well as peacekeeping training.

Phil Lyman cared so much about what he sees as his right to drive all-terrain vehicles into Recapture Canyon, he went to jail for it.

"Going into this, you know, I've said a number of times, I'm a foot soldier," the San Juan County, Utah, commissioner says. "I'm not a captain. I'm not a general. I'm willing to die on a battlefield for a good cause."

President Trump is expected to sign an executive order Wednesday that could end up shrinking — or even nullifying — some large federal national monuments on protected public lands, as established since the Clinton administration.

As California water officials confirmed Thursday that the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada remains well above average, pressure was mounting on the state to lift emergency water restrictions that have been in place for two years.

The snowpack across the mountains is now 164 percent of average, a closely watched marker in the nation's most populous state — and biggest economy — where one-third of all the drinking water comes from snow-fed reservoirs.

At the very southernmost tip of Illinois, the pancake flat cornfields give way to the rolling, forested hills of the Delta.

Here, at the windy confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, it feels more southern than Midwest when you arrive at the old river port and factory town of Cairo, once made famous in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

But Twain might not recognize Cairo today.

Along a snowy highway in the Rockies lies Buford, Wyo., elevation: 8,000 feet, population: one.

This tiny town is in danger of losing its last — and only — resident, as the town's longest running business may have to close.

But this is really a story about three people. The first is Jason Hirsch, Buford's town manager.

He mans the Buford Trading Post, which is also the gas station, the store and well, town hall basically.

"The politics are pretty easy around here," Hirsch says. "Sometimes you know, you have arguments with yourself."

It became clear in the last election that a stark division existed between urban and rural areas. In places such as north Idaho, people with similar political stripes have begun seeking each other out.

When Adrien Koch retired last summer from her job with FEMA in the Bay Area, she and her husband resettled in the wooded mountains of north Idaho. They had visited only a few months before on a vacation but had quickly fallen in love. For Koch, Idaho reminded her of the California she knew in the 1970s.

Republicans want to eliminate one of the nation's newest national monuments.

Former President Barack Obama created the 1.3 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument in Utah just days before he left office.

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Wyoming has become a flash point in the debate over whether hundreds of millions of acres of federal public lands should be turned over to state hands.

From Buzz Hettick's place on the edge of the windswept college town of Laramie, it's a short drive into the heart of these remote lands, vast tracts run by the federal Bureau of Land Management.

On a recent, blustery morning, Hettick was scouting out an elk hunt in the Laramie range, a patchwork of private and public BLM land north of his home.

"A lot of wildlife uses public lands," he says.

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A few weeks before the election, the Tri-Pro lumber mill in north Idaho shut down. It was the second mill to close in the area in six months, putting more than a hundred people out of work.

While that's big economic loss for any community, it was especially tough for the tight-knit town of Orofino and its 3,000 or so residents.

The day after the election, Jen Stebbins-Han's kids came home from school and posed a question that before this year, she says, she might have laughed off.

"My kids came home and asked us if their dad was going to be deported," she says. "I don't know where they heard that because it wasn't from us."

Stebbins-Han's husband is Korean-American. Jen is white. The couple has three young biracial kids.

"There is a part of me that's afraid because I don't know what somebody's going to do because they feel emboldened to be able to," she says.

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