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.

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

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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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Critical Condition

Rural health care is in crisis around the country, but Texas is suffering the most. At least 20 small-town hospitals have closed since 2013.

a Texas Observer Special Investigation Critical Condition Rural health care is in crisis around the country, but Texas is suffering the most. At least 20 small-...Read More

The now-vacant hospital in Mount Vernon. by and

A Dying Town

When a rural hospital dies, the community around it starts to follow suit.

Critical Condition: part 1 A Dying Town When a rural hospital dies, the community around it starts to follow suit. + + + by Christopher Collins and Sophie Novac...Read More

The Martin Lake power plant in Tatum. by

The Creature of Martin Creek Lake Won’t Die

The Martin Lake coal plant in East Texas is the biggest sulfur dioxide polluter in the nation. And unlike other regional super-polluters, this one is still chugging along.

From above, the Creature takes the shape of a spider: Its eyes are smokestacks, its legs spindly railways stretching from the semicircle of clearcut pines into ...Read More

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