Kirk Siegler

Kirk Siegler reports for NPR, based out of NPR West in California.

Siegler grew up near Missoula, MT, and received a B.A. in journalism from the University of Colorado.  He’s an avid skier and traveler in his spare time.

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The Salt
3:21 am
Fri February 28, 2014

Drought Could Dry Up Nevada Dairy Farmers' Expansion Plans

There are about 2,000 dairy cows on Pete Olsen's fifth-generation farm in northern Nevada. A new milk processing plant is now putting pressure on Olsen and other dairy farmers to expand the size of their herds. But with the ongoing drought, farmers are struggling to get enough feed for the cows they already have.
Kirk Siegler/NPR

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 3:13 pm

When Pete Olsen talks about drought on his fifth-generation dairy farm in Fallon, Nev., he's really talking about the snowpack 60 miles to the west in the Sierra Nevada.

The Sierras, Olsen says, are their lifeblood.

That is, the snowmelt from them feeds the Truckee and Carson rivers and a tangle of reservoirs and canals that make this desert bloom. Some of the highest-grade alfalfa in the world is grown here. And it makes perfect feed for dairy cows, because it's rich in nutrients.

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Around the Nation
3:44 am
Wed February 19, 2014

LA Mayor: 'The Basics Have Been Neglected For Too Long'

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti may have only been in office eight months, but he's got big plans.
David McNew Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 7:37 am

Los Angeles may be known for its celebrities, glitz and glam, but the city's mayor, Eric Garcetti, is focused on something decidedly less flashy: infrastructure.

Take the city's airport LAX, for example. You'd be forgiven for mistaking its terminals for a cramped bus station. And stepping out onto the curb can feel like an assault on the senses, with the horns, aggressive shuttle drivers and travelers jostling for taxis.

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Around the Nation
7:06 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Scientists Help Western States Prepare For Drought As New Norm

Frank Gehrke, chief of snow surveys in California, looks at wind speed, snow depth and moisture data collected at a survey site in Yosemite National Park.
Kirk Siegler NPR

Originally published on Wed February 5, 2014 10:23 pm

At a 10,000-foot summit in Yosemite National Park, Frank Gehrke clicks into his cross-country skis and pushes off down a small embankment onto a meadow of crusty snow. He's California's chief of snow surveys, one of the most influential jobs in a state where snow and the water that comes from it are big currency. He's on his monthly visit to one of a dozen snowpack-measuring stations scattered across the high country of the Sierra Nevada.

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Energy
9:01 am
Sun February 2, 2014

Oil Train Derailments Spur Calls For Safety Measures

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 2:24 pm

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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The Great Plains Oil Rush
2:59 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Commuting To Distant Oil Fields: Good Money, At A Price

The small streets of Williston, N.D., are bustling with trucks early in the morning.
Annie Flanagan for NPR

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 1:26 pm

Think your commute is bad? Try 580 miles, one-way.

Door to door, that's how far Rory Richardson travels between his home in western Montana and his job on the oil fields near Williston, N.D. Often, he makes the trip on a plane his company charters to shuttle workers between here and the Northwest.

"It's no fun coming over to North Dakota," he says, clutching a duffel bag and a cooler of food as he walks out of Williston's one-room airport and into the biting North Dakota winter.

But this is Richardson's new life.

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Around the Nation
2:54 am
Wed January 29, 2014

On The Plains, The Rush For Oil Has Changed Everything

Diners at Lonnie's Roadhouse Cafe eat breakfast before heading to work in Williston, N.D.
Annie Flanagan for NPR

Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 12:49 pm

A remarkable transformation is underway in western North Dakota, where an oil boom is changing the state's fortunes and leaving once-sleepy towns bursting at the seams. In a series of stories, NPR is exploring the economic, social and environmental demands of this modern-day gold rush.

On a Sunday at dusk, Amtrak's eastbound Empire Builder train is jampacked, filled with people heading to their jobs in North Dakota towns like Minot, Williston and Watford City.

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Around the Nation
5:00 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

Whale Traffic Jam Delights Visitors And Baffles Scientists

A diving whale off the coast of Southern California near the Los Angeles suburb of Palos Verdes in 2010.
Mike Nelson EPA/Landov

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 6:13 pm

This is one of the best times of the year to spot gray whales off the coast of Southern California as they migrate south for the winter. But recently, there have been an unusually high number of sightings of other whales.

"We've had so many whales," Dan "The Whale Man" Salas tells the guests on his boat. "This is all in the last two weeks. We've had orcas, we had a sperm whale, we've got humpback whales, blue whales, fin whales. Yesterday we had a massive pod of gray whales, so we never know what we're going to see out here."

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Number Of The Year
9:48 am
Sat December 28, 2013

A Tragic Year For Wildland Firefighters Ends In Reflection

The wildfire in Yarnell, Ariz., last June destroyed homes and killed 19 firefighters. Experts say expansion into wildfire-prone areas has created new challenges for firefighters.
Andy Tobin AP

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 8:22 am

Thirty-four wildland firefighters died in the line of duty this year. Some of those fatalities were isolated incidents, but one event captured the nation's attention, sparking a larger conversation about the new dangers firefighters face.

That event unfolded in central Arizona the afternoon of June 30, a Sunday.

"I'm here with Granite Mountain Hot Shots. Our escape route has been cut off," says a crew boss on recently released radio traffic from the Yarnell Hill Fire. "We are preparing a deployment site, and I'll give you a call when we are under the shelters.

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Around the Nation
5:22 am
Thu December 12, 2013

Scandal May Bring New Oversight To LA County Sheriff's Department

After the FBI released results of a federal probe on Dec. 9, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said he was troubled by the charges and called it a sad day for his department.
Nick Ut AP

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 9:41 am

Longtime civil rights attorney Connie Rice has been following this week's indictments against officers in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. She says it points to a subculture of corruption within certain units, much like the city's scandal-ridden police department of the 1990s.

In the main downtown jails, sheriff's officers are accused of beating and choking inmates without provocation, harassing visitors and then covering it all up.

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U.S.
5:17 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

After Fight Over Colo. Gun Laws, Two Sides As Dug In As Ever

A man holds a sign advocating the recall of state Sen. John Morse in Colorado Springs, Colo., in September. Morse and a second state senator who backed the state's new gun control measures were recalled during a special election that month.
Matthew Staver Landov

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 8:47 pm

John Morse was president of the Colorado Senate until September, when he became the first elected official recalled in the state's history.

Three months later, he's climbing the rotunda steps of the gold-domed Capitol building — his office for seven years. He hasn't been here since October. Gazing up at the dome, he says, "This is one of my favorite things to do. That's my version of smelling the roses."

Morse's political career ended over the gun bills he pushed through these chambers eight months ago. But he says he would do it all again.

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Law
7:12 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

L.A. Sheriff's Deputies Indicted On Corruption, Civil Rights Abuses

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 10:45 am

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

In Los Angeles today, federal prosecutors announced charges of corruption and civil rights abuses inside the nation's largest jail system. The indictments came against 18 current and former deputies of the LA Sheriff's Department. NPR's Kirk Siegler has details from outside the federal building in downtown Los Angeles.

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Around the Nation
5:37 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Pipeline On Wheels: Trains Are Winning Big Off U.S. Oil

A train leaves the Rangeland Energy company's crude oil loading terminal near Epping, N.D. So far this year, 60 percent of all oil produced in North Dakota left the state by rail. One economist says there aren't enough oil tankers to fill the demand.
AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 9:28 pm

The oil boom in the United States is creating another boom — for the railroad industry.

So far this year, in North Dakota alone, 140 million barrels of oil have left on trains. Shipments of crude oil by rail are up almost 50 percent over last year — and this upward trend is expected to continue.

A visit to the world-famous Tehachapi Loop, part of a winding mountain pass in Southern California, demonstrates the scale and reach of the oil boom in the middle of the country. As a train full of oil tanker cars rumbles past, it's hard not to think of it as a pipeline on wheels.

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Around the Nation
2:54 am
Tue November 12, 2013

Philippine Ex-Pats In Calif. Contribute To Typhoon Relief

Many Filipinos living in the United States are frantically trying to get in touch with loved ones in some of the areas hardest hit by the typhoon. California, with about a million Filipino immigrants, is the center for a large fundraising effort.

Los Angeles is home to one of the largest concentrations of Filipino immigrants in the U.S. Many across this city are glued to the local Asian TV stations' nightly news broadcasts. Some are turning their worry and stress into action, pounding the pavement to raise money for typhoon victims.

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Around the Nation
4:47 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Should TSA Agents Have Broader Law Enforcement Powers?

Originally published on Fri November 8, 2013 10:17 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Airports around the country will hold a moment of silence this morning to honor Gerardo Hernandez. He was the TSA officer killed a week ago today at Los Angeles International Airport. That shooting is renewing debate over airport security and the role of the TSA. NPR's Kirk Siegler reports.

KIRK SIEGLER, BYLINE: Security at major airports is a web of moving parts, and a tangle of bureaucracies and jurisdictions.

(SOUNDBITE OF CAR HORN HONKING)

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Around the Nation
5:51 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Gunman Opens Fire At Los Angeles International Airport

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 6:49 pm

A lone gunman opened fire Friday at Los Angeles International Airport, police say. Police fired on the alleged shooter, who is now in police custody. The attack left one TSA officer dead and at least seven people needing medical treatment (including the shooter), officials said. The shooting forced the evacuation of a terminal and more than 45 flights into and out of LAX have been cancelled.

Around the Nation
3:22 am
Fri October 18, 2013

In Flooded Colorado, Immigrants' Livelihoods Washed Away

The Eastwood Village mobile home park in Evans was wiped out in September's floods.
Kirk Siegler NPR

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 1:15 pm

In flood-ravaged Colorado, much of the recovery has focused on rebuilding roads and bridges to mountain towns cut off by last month's floods. But take a drive east to the state's rolling plains, and a whole new set of staggering problems unfolds in farm country.

Living In Limbo

A woman named Claudia, who doesn't want to use her last name because of her immigration status, is sitting on a couch in the lobby of a shabby hotel in Greeley, about an hour's drive northeast of Denver.

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The Salt
6:07 am
Sat October 12, 2013

Women, The 'First Brewers,' Lean Into Craft Beer-Making

Meg Gill is the president and co-founder of Golden Road Brewing in Los Angeles. Her brewery is favored to win awards at the Great American Beer Festival.
Melissa Kuypers NPR

Originally published on Sat October 12, 2013 10:09 am

Thousands of beer aficionados are in Denver this weekend for the Great American Beer Festival. Some 600 breweries from around the country are represented at the marquee event for the craft-brewing industry.

And while this annual competition has long been male-dominated, that's starting to change.

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U.S.
6:11 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Fresno Officials Dismantle Homeless Encampments

A former encampment. Fresno officials have dismantled three shantytowns.
Kirk Siegler NPR

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 7:19 pm

Any day now, Fresno plans to raze a large homeless encampment that's grown up near downtown. The poor, farm-dependent city in California's Central Valley has one of the highest per capita homeless populations in the country.

In recent weeks, city officials there have dismantled three other sprawling shantytowns. The moves have displaced hundreds of people and sparked controversy.

Underneath Highway 180

Fresno is one of the poorest places in America. One in 4 people here live below the poverty line, and the recession only made things worse.

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Around the Nation
5:15 am
Tue September 3, 2013

Radio Station KYAY Is Lifeline For Apache Tribe

Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 10:54 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And on a reservation in Arizona, there's a tiny radio station marking its first year on the air. KYAY is owned by the San Carlos Apache Tribe and it's become a window into this isolated reservation, offering news and entertainment. NPR's Kirk Siegler has been listening.

(SOUNDBITE OF TRADITIONAL APACHE SONG)

KIRK SIEGLER: From a cinder block building in a dusty lot on the edge of San Carlos, comes KYAY 91.1 FM, the voice of the San Carlos Apaches.

LYNN KEY: So, you know, it's KYAY.

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Around the Nation
4:45 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

Elite Native American Firefighters Join Crews At Yosemite

Flames burn near the Tuolumne Family Camp near Groveland, Calif., on Sunday.
Noah Berger EPA/Landov

Originally published on Tue August 27, 2013 8:57 pm

One of the firefighting teams trying to contain the Rim Fire in and around Yosemite National Park is the Geronimo Hotshots team from San Carlos, Ariz., one of seven elite Native American firefighting crews in the U.S.

On the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, firefighting jobs are one of only a few ways for many young men to earn a living. For team member Jose Alvarez Santi Jr., 25, the work is rewarding — but being away from home fighting fires can be tough.

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Law
5:48 pm
Mon August 26, 2013

Embattled LA Sheriff Still Plans To Give Fifth Term A Shot

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca at the Men's Central Jail in downtown LA in 2012. Baca, who has been under fire for jailhouse abuses, is facing calls to step down and not seek a fifth term.
Reed Saxon AP

Originally published on Tue August 27, 2013 5:30 pm

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca — who oversees the largest municipal jail system in the country — is facing growing pressure to bow out of the race for what could be his fifth term.

There's a lot that's been piling up against Sheriff Baca lately. At the top of the list is an FBI probe into what's been described as a systemic pattern of unnecessary force against inmates in county jails.

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Politics
6:02 am
Sat August 17, 2013

Immigration Reform Activists March To Calif. Farm Country

Marchers kick off a 21-day march calling for immigration reform in Sacramento, Calif. on Monday. The 285-mile walk through California's Central Valley ended in Bakersfield at the district office of House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Originally published on Sun August 18, 2013 7:35 am

Immigrant and farm worker rights groups came from Los Angeles to Bakersfield, Calif., by the busload this week. Bakersfield, in the state's Central Valley, is farm country, and immigration is a complex issue here.

The groups were converging on the home of the third-most powerful Republican in the House, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy.

Activists across the country are targeting a number of Republican members of Congress this summer, trying to pressure the House to take up the immigration reform bill passed in the Senate.

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U.S.
3:01 am
Tue August 13, 2013

Of Bison, Birth Control And An Island Off Southern Calif.

Bison have been roaming the Santa Catalina Island since the 1920s. At one time they numbered more than 600.
Kirk Siegler NPR

Originally published on Thu August 15, 2013 7:59 am

In an open-aired Jeep, it's a bone-jarring ride into Santa Catalina Island's vast interior. The dirt road winds and climbs, twists and turns, climbing 2,000 feet up.

From there, the deep blue of the Pacific Ocean comes back into view, and if you squint, you can see downtown Los Angeles 30 miles off on the horizon.

Some days, you can also see wild bison.

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The Salt
3:09 am
Wed July 31, 2013

Farm Laborers Get A Foothold With Their Own Organic Farms

Agricultural work, which is physically demanding, is also a risky business venture.
Kirk Siegler NPR

Originally published on Fri August 16, 2013 2:01 pm

Northern California's Salinas Valley is often dubbed America's salad bowl. Large growers there have long relied on thousands of seasonal workers from rural Mexico to pick lettuce, spinach and celery from sunrise to sunset. Many of these workers seem destined for a life in the fields. But a program that helps field workers, like Raul Murillo, start their own farms and businesses is starting to yield a few success stories.

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Code Switch
3:41 am
Thu July 25, 2013

After Years Of Violence, L.A.'s Watts Sees Crime Subside

Los Angeles police officers take a break during a basketball game with residents of the Nickerson Gardens housing project in July 2011. Violent crime at Nickerson Gardens and two nearby housing projects has fallen by almost half since 2010.
Thomas Watkins AP

Originally published on Thu July 25, 2013 10:48 am

On most weeknights, in the middle of his shift, Los Angeles police officer Keith Mott trades his gun and uniform for a T-shirt and shorts, and heads to a park in the Watts neighborhood of South Los Angeles. He's there to coach 7- and 8-year-old boys on the Pop Warner Pee Wee football team, the Watts Bears.

The kids come from three nearby housing projects: Jordan Downs, Nickerson Gardens and Imperial Courts. The park was carefully chosen. It's a neutral site for local gangs. Otherwise, most of the Bears' parents wouldn't allow them to come and play.

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Around the Nation
4:52 pm
Wed July 10, 2013

Summer 'Heat Tourists' Sweat With Smiles In Death Valley

Tourists walk across the Badwater Basin, which sits 282 feet below sea level, in Death Valley, Calif., on June 30. People from around the world flock to the area to experience temperatures that rise to the high 120s on a regular basis.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Wed July 10, 2013 11:11 pm

It's no secret that Death Valley, Calif., is one of the hottest, most unforgiving places on Earth come summertime. July 10 is the 100th anniversary of the hottest temperature ever recorded on the planet — 134 degrees Fahrenheit — and the heat is drawing tourists from all over the world to Death Valley.

Like Terminal 5 at London Heathrow Airport, Death Valley becomes a melting pot of foreign accents. On a recent afternoon, Belgian tourist Yan Klassens admires the view of the Badlands from Zabriskie Point, describing it as "nice, awesome and colorful."

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U.S.
2:53 am
Sun July 7, 2013

Despite Hefty Payouts, Fire Insurance Costs Hold Steady

Firefighter Brandie Smith walks by the remains of a structure destroyed in the Black Forest wildfire north of Colorado Springs last month. More than 500 homes have been lost to wildfire in the state this year.
Ed Andrieski AP

Originally published on Sun July 7, 2013 2:46 pm

Wildfires have already destroyed hundreds of homes in the American West this year. The insurance industry is once again poised to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars to cover those losses, as it already has for homeowners who lost their houses during last year's fire season.

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NPR Story
7:38 am
Sun June 16, 2013

Colorado Springs Learns To Live With Fire

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Colorado is often the site of devastating forest fires, but the city of Colorado Springs has been hit particularly hard as of late. In the span of just one year, more than 800 homes have been destroyed from wildfires in and around the city. This time last year, it was the Waldo Canyon fire, and now it's the Black Forest fire. NPR's Kirk Siegler spent the week in Colorado Springs and sent this report.

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NPR Story
8:00 am
Sat June 15, 2013

Rain, Cooler Weather Slow Colorado Fire

Originally published on Sat June 15, 2013 4:40 pm

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. In Colorado, cooler weather and some rain has helped crews begin to get a handle on the Black Forest fire that's burning just north of Colorado Springs. Yesterday, several thousand people were allowed back into their homes, but an estimated 30,000 people remain evacuated from the area.

The blaze has claimed two lives, and it has destroyed at least 473 homes. NPR's Kirk Siegler reports from Colorado Springs.

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Around the Nation
2:57 am
Mon June 10, 2013

Rail Project At Los Angeles Port Draws Environmentalists' Ire

Shipping containers stack up at the Port of Los Angeles.
Nick Ut AP

Originally published on Mon June 10, 2013 12:21 pm

In California, a high-profile lawsuit is seeking to halt construction of a new $500 million rail yard next to the Port of Los Angeles. Activists, including a national environmental group that's spearheading the opposition, say the massive project would mean even more pollution for nearby neighborhoods that already have some of the worst air in the country.

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