Jason Mark

Jason Mark is the author of Satellites in the High Country: Searching for the Wild in the Age of Man, and the editor of SIERRA magazine.

Recent Articles

Utah Monument Fight Pits Native Americans Against Land-Use Militants

A swath of high desert known as Bears Ears has become ground zero in the long-running battle over the nation’s public lands.

(Photo: AP/Rick Bowmer)
(Photo: AP/Rick Bowmer) U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell speaks during a tour of the Indian Creek Area in Utah on July 14, 2016. B y all accounts, the looting was terrible. Across the Southwest a century ago, thousand-year-old Native American granaries were pillaged by clay pot hunters. Grave robbers worked in the open. In the sandstone dwellings perched high in the cliffs, tourists cut souvenirs out of the ancient ceiling beams. Vandals carted off heirlooms by the wagonload. In response, Congress acted swiftly. In the summer of 1906, the House and the Senate passed, and President Theodore Roosevelt quickly signed, a law known as the Antiquities Act, which was designed to protect America’s cultural and physical treasures. Results were immediate. Within two years, Roosevelt had invoked the new law to protect Wyoming’s Devil’s Tower (held sacred by the Cheyenne and the Lakota as “Bears Lodge”) from timber and mining interests, to provide new security to Chaco Canyon and Gila Cliff...

Park Service Centennial Spotlights Public Lands Disputes

While the 100-year old National Parks Service still enjoys widespread public support, conservative attacks put the future of public lands in jeopardy.

National Park Service via AP
National Park Service via AP In this photo provided by the National Park Service, a sign on the Yosemite valley floor points to the newly named Majestic Yosemite Hotel and the Yosemite Valley Lodge on Tuesday, March 1, 2016, in Yosemite National Park, California. The prices of Yosemite National Park souvenirs have been slashed in half, and road signs directing visitors to iconic attractions have been switched. The changes took place at midnight Monday amid a bitter legal dispute between government officials and Delaware North, which operated many of the popular attractions from 1993 until Monday when competitor Aramark took over. H aving lost the $2 billion contract to run the concessions at Yosemite National Park, a food service, lodging, and retail company called Delaware North has left the park and taken with it the names of several iconic landmarks—the corporate equivalent of taking all of the marbles after losing the game. Beginning in 2002, Delaware North began trademarking many...

Where the Wild Things Are

AP Images/Google
P icture a perfect Southwestern day: The air as clear as gin, the bright blue sky marked only by a few stray clouds. In this spot, the waters of the Colorado River are placid, cool green, with none of the muddy brown foam found in the rapids that, over millennia, have carved out the Grand Canyon. Redwall limestone cliffs stretch high above. They’re streaked with desert varnish—the stain left by manganese seeps—and lightly colored with the aquamarine of lichen. Eons of the planet’s history are visible from here, whole epochs rendered in the span of a few thousand vertical feet. It’s an awesome sight. Then I move my mouse over the river surface and click on a small circle of white in the water. The scene swirls in fast-forward, and I continue my trip downriver. I’ve never rafted the Colorado River through the bottom of the Grand Canyon. My “experience” through that wonder of the world came courtesy of Google Treks, the information company’s effort to extend its popular Street View...

Is the CIA on Its Way to Hacking the Sky?

Human manipulation of the climate might be the quickest way to combat global warming. It's also the most frightening.

AP Images/David J. Phillip
T he news seemed tailor-made to drive conspiracy theorists and members of the tinfoil hat club into a frenzy. In July, the National Academy of Sciences confirmed that the CIA is helping to underwrite a yearlong study examining atmospheric geoengineering—deliberate, planetary-scale manipulation of the climate to counteract global warming. As reporters took jabs at the idea of “spooks” seeking to “control the weather,” the National Academy of Sciences tried to brush away concerns. “We are not producing anything, building anything, or deploying anything. It’s more of a state-of-the-science review,” an academy spokesperson told me, noting that NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are also helping to pay for the study. Still, the CIA’s interest in geoengineering marks a turning point in the simmering debate about the controversial technology: More and more people are starting to take the once-laughable idea seriously. Both supporters and skeptics of...

It's Not Easy Being Green

Flickr/CREDO Action/
Flickr/Takver A bout a year ago, on March 26, 2012, Sandra Steingraber, an environmental writer and activist against natural-gas fracking, wrote a public letter titled “Breaking Up with the Sierra Club.” Breakups are never easy, and the letter, published on the website of the nature magazine Orion , was brutal from the start: “I’m through with you,” Steingraber began. The proximate cause of the split was the revelation that between 2007 and 2010 the nation’s oldest environmental organization had clandestinely accepted $26 million from individuals or subsidiaries associated with Chesapeake Energy, a major gas firm that has been at the forefront of the fracking boom. “The largest, most venerable environmental organization in the United States secretly aligned with the very company that seeks to occupy our land, turn it inside out, blow it apart, fill it with poison,” Steingraber wrote. “It was as if, on the eve of D-day, the anti-Fascist partisans had discovered that Churchill was...