Rural Reporting Project
Texas has the largest rural population of any state—3.8 million people—yet many journalists treat much of the state as flyover country. The Observer has made reporting on rural Texas a priority with this long-term project. Staff writer Christopher Collins, who has investigated how crop dusting is putting Texans’ health at risk and the connection between destructive Panhandle wildfires and a mismanaged federal land program, is spearheading the effort from West Texas. View an interactive story map here.
Kathy Stewart has complained for years about the fecal dust invading Yellowhouse Canyon. But so far, her concerns have mostly been ignored.
The wind is high in Yellowhouse Canyon, a working class neighborhood on Lubbock’s southeastern outskirts, as Kathy Stewart collects her chihuahua from the fro...Read More
It’s Illegal to Take Drone Photos of Cattle Feedlots in Texas. Press Groups Say That Violates the First Amendment.
To get a sense of the Panhandle’s network of cattle feedlots, which can cause health problems for those who live around them, you've got to see it from above.
Close up, a feedlot cow is a sight to behold: It’s a hulking, broad-shouldered eating machine with a three-foot-long tongue and a jaw that never seems to stop...Read More
In the Texas Panhandle, which produces a fifth of the U.S. beef supply, communities are being choked by fecal dust from nearby feedlots. The state’s regulatory agency isn’t doing anything about it—and it’s about to get a whole lot worse.
In the Texas Panhandle, which produces a fifth of the U.S. beef supply, communities are being choked by fecal dust from nearby feedlots. The state’s regulator...Read More
The midwinter survey of bald eagles at Lake Buchanan found the lowest number ever recorded, and illegal duck hunting could be a factor.
Charles Tischler had no trouble spotting the white-throated caracara and red-tailed hawks wheeling through the sky above Lake Buchanan on Sunday. But those aren...Read More
At a farm convention in Austin, the nation’s agriculture sector warmly welcomed a president who has hurt them in the past.
Donald Trump flew down to Austin on Sunday evening to commune with the sunburned, work-weary farmers and ranchers who comprise one of his most prized voting blo...Read More
Much has been written about medical deserts, but these are the experiences of people who call them home.
Rural health care is in crisis in Texas: More than one-fifth of Texas’ 254 counties have only one doctor or none at all. Of the state’s 158 remaining rural ...Read More
Family planning clinics and abortion clinics across Texas have been closing at an alarming rate. Rural hospitals are shuttering their maternity wards. For many Texans, this means traveling hundreds of miles just to access basic reproductive health care services.
Critical Condition: Part 3 Labor Away Family planning clinics and abortion clinics across Texas have been closing at an alarming rate. Rural hospitals are shutt...Read More
A view into the weird, sad, and sometimes funny world of rural Texas.
Once again, we’ve completed another excruciatingly slow journey from one December to the next, exhausted and unrewarded for our trouble. Let’s take stock of...Read More
Unauthorized emission incidents resulted in 135 million pounds of illegal air pollution, according to a new report by Environment Texas.
The oil and gas industry in Texas is largely responsible for doubling the amount of illegal air pollution in the state last year, according to a report released...Read More