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.

 

As Texans are Exposed to Dangerous Pesticides, Lawmakers Aren’t Doing Anything

by | Thu, Apr 2, 2020 at 11:57 CST
Pesticide drift is exposing rural Texans to dangerous chemicals. But lawmakers are more concerned with how that is eating into Big Ag’s balance sheet.
Carole Ward, a former nurse practitioner, ran the Memphis health clinic until she retired in 2017. by and

The Last Nurse in Memphis, Texas

Carole Ward, a former nurse practitioner, ran the only health clinic in a small town in the Panhandle until she retired in 2017.

This story is part of “Critical Condition,” a series investigating Texas’ rural health care crisis. Read Part 1 here. Carole Ward, a 66-year-old nurse p...Read More

A pistol grip mussel. by

East Texas Rivers Could Become a Boiling Pot for Mussels

The humble bivalves may not look like much, but they act as crucial natural filters across the state's waterways—and they're severely threatened by climate change.

Where the Sabine River becomes shin-deep about 20 minutes north of Tyler, three biologists dismount midstream from a narrow metal boat. Lance Williams, a profes...Read More

by

The Rural Health Care Crisis, Mapped

Texas is facing a rural health care crisis. How many doctors are in your county?

This story is part of “Critical Condition,” a series investigating Texas’ rural health care crisis. Read Part 1 here. Rural Americans bear the brunt of th...Read More

The Memphis health clinic shuttered in 2017, making it harder for Yolanda Narvaez, right, and her husband, Angel, to access care. by and

Driving My Life Away

As physicians leave small towns, rural Texans must travel farther and farther for health care.

Critical Condition: Part 2 Driving My Life Away As physicians leave small towns, rural Texans must travel farther and farther for health care. + + + by Christop...Read More

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