Kirk Siegler

Kirk Siegler is a reporter for NPR's National Desk. In this role he covers Southern California and the West from NPR West's studios in Culver City, CA.

Since joining the national desk in December of 2012, Siegler has covered everything from a dock worker strike at the nation's largest port to an unprecedented manhunt for an ex-LAPD officer wanted for a string of vengeance killings. He's also contributed extensively to the network's coverage on the ongoing national conversation about guns; assignments that have taken him from Newtown, CT, to an inner-city Los Angeles hospital's trauma ward, to rural Wyoming.

Siegler has won numerous Edward R. Murrow and Associated Press Awards for his coverage of Environmental, Political and Business issues in Montana and Colorado. Siegler was a 2010 Science Literacy Project fellow at the University of California-Berkeley and most recently he completed the 2012 Knight/MIT "Food Boot Camp" Fellowship.

Prior to joining NPR, Siegler spent seven years reporting from Colorado, where he became a familiar voice to NPR listeners reporting from Denver for NPR Member Station KUNC. He also spent two years as a reporter and news director at Aspen Public Radio. Siegler got his start in reporting in 2003 covering the Montana Legislature for Montana Public Radio.

Siegler has spent much of his adult life living in the West. He grew up in Missoula, MT and received a B.A. in journalism from the University of Colorado in Boulder. He is an avid skier and enjoys traveling and visiting his family scattered across the globe.

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Science + Technology
9:53 am
Wed July 22, 2015

In Drier Washington State, Fire Chiefs Say Wildfires Could Scorch Any City

Many homes in the mountains of Kittitas County, Wash., are at severe risk for a wildfire. Fire managers are worried that parts of typically "wet" Washington state are years behind other places in the West when it comes to fire mitigation and prevention.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Wed July 22, 2015 2:39 pm

In a field on the outskirts of Spokane, Wash., Peter Goldmark points across to a charred, rocky hillside where the Little Spokane fire burned dangerously close to the city limits earlier this month.

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U.S.
5:01 pm
Wed July 15, 2015

Wildfire Worries Rage In Typically 'Wet' Washington State

A wildfire raced through the neighborhood of Broadview in Wenatchee, Wash., destroying numerous homes and apple-processing facilities. Fire managers are worried that parts of Washington state are years behind other places in the West when it comes to fire mitigation and prevention.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Wed July 15, 2015 8:01 pm

The iconic forests of the Pacific Northwest — with their towering, moss-covered fir and pine trees — have never been this dry. The grass underneath the ferns has already turned gold.

Of the five large wildfires burning in Washington alone right now, one has scorched more than 1,500 acres of a rainforest on the typically misty Olympic Peninsula.

The wildfire threat in the drought-stricken Pacific Northwest right now is extraordinary, and there are concerns that the region may not be prepared for a long summer.

A Wake-Up Call

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U.S.
6:47 pm
Fri July 10, 2015

California's Driest Region Finds Short-Term Drought Aid

Five 2,500-gallon water tanks wait to be unloaded at the nonprofit Self-Help Enterprises near Visalia, Calif. So far about 140 tanks have been distributed to homes, but at least 1,000 more are needed in Tulare County alone.
Kirk Siegler NPR

Originally published on Fri July 10, 2015 8:22 pm

Rural Tulare County, Calif., is now being called the epicenter of this drought.

That's because at least 1,300 residential wells have run dry, affecting at least 7,000 people. When your taps start spitting out air here, Paul Boyer and his team are who you call.

Under a punishing midafternoon sun, Boyer helps muscle down five of these hefty 400-pound water tanks from a semi-truck flatbed. He helps run a local nonprofit that's in charge of distributing these 2,500-gallon water tanks to drought victims.

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Science + Technology
6:08 pm
Mon June 15, 2015

Endangered Species Protections At Center Of Drought Debate

The sun sets over the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta near Rio Vista, Calif., in 2013. The delta is the largest West Coast estuary and a source of conflict over the state's water.
Robert Galbraith Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu June 18, 2015 2:23 pm

Travel up and down California farm country, the Central Valley, and you hardly hear people lamenting the lack of rain or how dry this past winter was. What you hear, from the agriculture industry and many local and national politicians, are sentiments like those expressed by Rep. Devin Nunes:

"Well, what I always like to say is that this is a man-made drought created by government," the Central Valley Republican says.

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The Salt
2:42 pm
Thu June 4, 2015

California's War Over Water Has Farmer Fighting Farmer

Rudy Mussi's family has farmed in the Sacramento Delta region for nearly a century. Mussi worries that more water transfers will deplete the fragile Delta ecosystem and wipe out family farms like his.
Kirk Siegler NPR

Originally published on Thu June 4, 2015 8:50 pm

Rudy Mussi is not the California farmer you've been hearing about. He is not fallowing all his fields or ripping up his orchards due to a lack irrigation water.

For Mussi and most of his neighbors in the bucolic Sacramento Delta, the water is still flowing reliably from the pumps and into the canals lining the fields.

"If you had to pick a place where you would say, 'Okay, where should I stick my farm?' You'd come to the Delta," he says.

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Asia
6:20 pm
Sun May 3, 2015

In Nepal, Efforts Underway To Salvage Ancient Sites Damaged By Quake

Buddhist monks recover a statue of a Buddhist deity from a monastery at Swayambhunath.
Niranjan Shrestha AP

Originally published on Fri May 22, 2015 4:20 pm

Swayambhunath — also known as the Monkey Temple, for its holy, furry dwellers that swing from the rosewood trees — is one of the oldest and most sacred Buddhist sites in Nepal's Kathmandu Valley, an important pilgrimage destination for Hindus as well as Buddhists. It was also one of the worst damaged by last month's earthquake.

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Goats and Soda
7:20 pm
Fri May 1, 2015

Show Us The Aid: Anger In An Ancient Nepali Town

A grandmother and her grandson sit on the belongings that they have salvaged from their collapsed homes on April 29, 2015 in Bhaktapur, Nepal.
Omar Havana Getty Images

Originally published on Fri May 22, 2015 4:18 pm

Where is the aid?

That's what the people of the ancient city of Bhaktapur want to know.

The historic gate to old Bhaktapur is about the only thing still standing after the earthquake. The ornate temples have crumbled. Brick homes were reduced to rubble. People have lost everything, including loved ones.

People are living under tarps or out in the open, without running water or toilets. Some 70 people are living in an improvised hut. Flies are everywhere. People say they haven't had any help from the outside — no medicine, no food.

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Business
4:29 pm
Fri May 1, 2015

U.S., Canada Announce New Safety Standards For Oil Trains

Firefighters douse blazes after a freight train loaded with oil derailed in Lac-Mégantic in Canada's Quebec province on July 6, 2013, sparking explosions that engulfed about 30 buildings in fire.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri May 1, 2015 9:18 pm

Transportation officials in the U.S. and Canada are imposing tougher safety standards on trains hauling crude oil.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Canada's Transport Minister Lisa Raitt announced Friday that shippers must use stronger tank cars to haul oil across North America by October 1. The new rules will also mandate the use of a controversial braking system on trains carrying crude.

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Parallels
5:02 pm
Tue April 28, 2015

Wounded Nepalis Stream Into Kathmandu, Overwhelming Hospitals

People injured in a devastating earthquake receive treatment at a hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal's capital, on Tuesday. Hungry and desperate villagers rushed toward relief helicopters in remote areas of Nepal, begging to be airlifted to safety.
Prakash Mathema AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 28, 2015 7:53 pm

At Model Hospital in Nepal's capital Kathmandu, two dozen patients are crowded into what would normally be the first floor reception area.

Nurses are racing about. Patients lying on worn, dirty mats on the floor are hooked up to IVs. One man, Loknatch Subedi, is sprawled out on a stretcher, his feet bandaged, one leg propped up on an old pillow.

"I'm getting better," he says.

On Saturday, he and his wife were riding on a scooter when the 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck. He was hit by a flying brick from a wall they were passing. The scooter crashed.

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Around the Nation
5:44 pm
Fri April 17, 2015

As Lake Mead Levels Drop, The West Braces For Bigger Drought Impact

Lake Mead is at its lowest levels since it was built in the late 1930s.
Kirk Siegler NPR

Originally published on Tue July 7, 2015 6:32 pm

The historic four-year drought in California has been grabbing the headlines lately, but there's a much bigger problem facing the West: the now 14-year drought gripping the Colorado River basin.

One of the most stunning places to see its impact is at the nation's largest reservoir, Lake Mead, near Las Vegas. At about 40 percent of capacity, it's the lowest it's been since it was built in the 1930s.

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Around the Nation
4:18 am
Tue April 14, 2015

Year After Denying Federal Control, Bundy Still Runs His Bit Of Nevada

Rancher Cliven Bundy holds his 5-month-old grandson Roper Cox on Saturday in Bunkerville, Nev. Bundy was hosting an event to mark one year since the Bureau of Land Management's failed attempt to collect his cattle.
John Locher AP

Originally published on Thu April 16, 2015 2:50 pm

It's been a year since Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his militia supporters stood down federal agents with the Bureau of Land Management outside Las Vegas.

Bundy owes more than $1 million in delinquent cattle grazing fees and penalties, but the BLM has stayed quiet in the year since the showdown, and Bundy's supporters marked the anniversary by throwing a party.

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The Salt
5:33 pm
Tue April 7, 2015

California Farmers Gulp Most Of State's Water, But Say They've Cut Back

Fields of carrots are watered March 29, 2015, in Kern County, Calif. Subsidized water flowing in federal and state canals down from the wet north to the arid south helped turn the dry, flat plain of the San Joaquin Valley into one of the world's most important food-growing regions.
Frederic J. Brown AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue April 7, 2015 7:54 pm

When Gov. Jerry Brown announced the largest mandatory water restrictions in California history April 1 while standing in a snowless field in the Sierra Nevada, he gave hardly a mention to farms.

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The Salt
6:05 pm
Fri March 27, 2015

Calif. Governor Can't Make It Rain, But Can Make Relief Money Pour

A worker kicks up dust as he drives a tractor at a farm on Aug. 22, 2014 near drought-stricken Firebaugh, Calif.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Can you spend your way out of an historic drought? Not really, but the consensus in Sacramento these days seems to be that money certainly helps.

Just days after it was introduced, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed his sweeping $1.1 billion emergency drought relief bill today.

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Business
2:11 pm
Fri March 20, 2015

Some Anxiety, But No Slowdown For North Dakota Oil Boom Town

A production site in the Bakken oil patch as seen from inside an abandoned farmhouse just outside Watford City, N.D.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Fri March 20, 2015 7:58 pm

Low oil prices are causing a drop in new drilling and exploration in North Dakota, but not as much as you might expect.

Take the boom town of Watford City, over in the northwestern corner of the state and in the heart of the Bakken oil patch. Its population has tripled since 2010, and today, continues to climb.

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Business
4:16 am
Tue March 10, 2015

Low Oil Prices Could Stall Explosive Growth In Montana Boom Town

A pump-jack sits atop an oil well near downtown Sidney, Mont. The oil boom has brought thousands of new residents to the town, almost all of whom work in the Bakken oil fields in Montana and North Dakota. Sidney sits at the western edge of the Bakken oil patch, one of the most productive drilling areas in the country.
David Gilkey NPR

Originally published on Tue March 10, 2015 4:52 pm

What happens when the price of oil tanks and suddenly you're faced with a whole lot less money to deal with your town's explosive growth?

If you're 52-year-old Rick Norby, you lose a lot of sleep.

"I haven't slept since I became mayor," he says. "I really ain't kidding you."

When Norby became mayor of Sidney, Mont., oil prices were about $100 a barrel. A year later, they've fallen to roughly half that. Yet oil production has continued to churn right along.

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Around the Nation
8:17 am
Sat February 21, 2015

Agreement Reached In West Coast Ports Labor Dispute

Originally published on Sat February 21, 2015 9:33 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Around the Nation
8:32 am
Sat February 14, 2015

West Coast Port Closures Are Hitting Several Industries Hard

A few trucks move along the docks at the Port of Los Angeles on Thursday. Seaports in major West Coast cities that normally are abuzz with the sound of commerce are falling unusually quiet due to an ongoing labor dispute.
Nick Ut AP

Originally published on Sat February 14, 2015 12:53 pm

No cargo will go in or out of 29 West Coast ports this weekend.

It's the third partial shutdown in operations at these ports in a week, the result of a bitter labor dispute between shipping lines and the union representing 20,000 dock workers. The dispute has been dragging on for eight months, and now the economic impacts of the shutdown are starting to be felt.

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Business
5:16 pm
Mon February 9, 2015

Los Angeles Residents Divided Over Proposed $15 Minimum Wage

Protesters assemble in front of a McDonald's in Los Angeles, demanding a $15 an hour minimum wage in September.
Paul Buck EPA/Landov

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 10:51 am

Los Angeles is considering raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour, from $9 currently. The dramatic proposal is causing excitement and some anxiety.

San Francisco and Seattle have already passed a $15 minimum wage (they'll rise to that level over the next few years), but what's different in LA is the number of working poor in this huge city.

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Shots - Health News
7:30 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

Measles + Low Vaccination Rates = Big Headaches For Schools

California is one of 20 states that allow parents to opt out of vaccination requirements for reasons of "personal belief." About 10 percent of students in the Santa Monica-Malibu school district are not immunized.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 8:25 pm

In Southern California many schools are facing tough questions about measles.

California is one of 20 states that allow students to opt out of school vaccination requirements when those rules conflict with their parents' personal beliefs. Many affluent areas along the California coast are home to schools with some of the highest "personal belief exemption" rates in the country. And that is creating some tension for administrators and health officials.

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U.S.
4:37 pm
Tue February 3, 2015

Nebraska Says Colorado Pot Isn't Staying Across The Border

Deuel County Sheriff Adam Hayward shows off a container of confiscated marijuana in Chappell, Neb., in July.
Nikki Kahn The Washington Post/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 4, 2015 11:02 am

There's a PSA that greets you on the radio when you're driving the flat stretch of Colorado State Highway 113 near the Nebraska state line: "With marijuana legal under Colorado law, we've all got a few things to know. ... Once you get here, can't leave our state. Stick around, this place is pretty great."

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