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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U.S.
4:08 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 12:23 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
12:42 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 6:50 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
3:42 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 2:20 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
4:39 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 2:18 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
2:29 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 7:18 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
3:02 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 5:53 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
2:50 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 Fri April 17, 2015 8:05 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
2:18 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 12:50 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
3:08 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 5:54 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
4:05 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
12:11 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 5:58 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
2:16 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 2:52 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
6:03 am
Sat February 21, 2015

Agreement Reached In West Coast Ports Labor Dispute

Originally published on Sat February 21, 2015 7:33 am

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

Around the Nation
6:43 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 10:53 am

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
2:57 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 8:51 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
5:30 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 6:25 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.
2:37 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 9:02 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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Around the Nation
2:25 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

Deal May Be In Sight For Pacific Coast Longshoremen

Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 2:13 pm

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

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

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The Great Plains Oil Rush
3:27 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

Falling Oil Prices Have North Dakota Migrants Rethinking The Boom

Originally published on Wed January 14, 2015 4:33 pm

A year ago, as part of our series on the Great Plains oil rush, we brought you the story of a 36-year-old father who had recently lost his job when one of the last major timber mills in the Northwest shut down. After several years struggling to find steady work and even after going back to school, Rory Richardson decided to commute 550 miles from his home in far western Montana, to a place where jobs are plentiful - the oil fields of North Dakota. But after a little more than a year, he and his family have decided the toll is just too great.

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Around the Nation
2:36 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

Rain Eases California Drought Anxiety, If Not The Actual Drought

The drought forced many citrus farmers near Orange Cove, Calif., to mulch their trees because they couldn't afford to keep them alive. Recent rain and new groundwater regulations have eased the crisis, but only slightly.
Kirk Siegler/NPR

Originally published on Thu January 1, 2015 11:25 am

The small city of Orange Cove, at the doorstep of the Sierra Nevada in central California, was suffering the brunt of the state's drought in April.

The rolling hills around the town are lined with citrus groves, and most people work on farms. As the irrigation canals dried up last summer, so did the economy.

"If there's no water, there's no work," Salvador Perez told NPR at the time.

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Race
5:48 am
Sat December 6, 2014

Remembering Rodney King, Southern Calif. Watches Ferguson, NY

Originally published on Sat December 6, 2014 9:51 am

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

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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Business
1:52 am
Tue December 2, 2014

Colorado's Pot Industry Looks To Move Past Stereotypes

Brooke Gehring, CEO of Patients Choice and Live Green Cannabis, stands in one of her company's grow houses in Denver.
Kirk Siegler NPR

Originally published on Tue December 2, 2014 7:04 am

It's been nearly a year since Colorado made recreational marijuana legal, and since then, pot has become a billion-dollar business in the state. And some growers have made it a mission to make it legitimate and mainstream.

"Change the face," says pot entrepreneur Brooke Gehring. "But really, not to be the stereotype of what they think is stoner culture, but to realize they are true business people that are operating these companies."

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Politics
5:49 pm
Fri November 21, 2014

In Southwest, New Immigration Policies Bring Frustration From All Sides

An anti-Obama protester yells on a megaphone Friday across the street from Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, where President Obama delivered remarks on his use of executive authority to relax U.S. immigration policy in Las Vegas.
Mike Blake Reuters/Landov

Even before the details of the president's executive action on immigration came down, William Gheen was hitting the phones, organizing demonstrations outside the Las Vegas high school Obama visited Friday.

"I don't know what's going to be effective, I don't think anybody ever expected that the president of the United States would side with an illegal immigrant invasion over American citizens' interest, but that's what's happened here," Gheen says.

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The Salt
3:09 am
Fri November 14, 2014

With Drought The New Normal, Calif. Farmers Find They Have To Change

California sheep rancher Dan Macon had to sell almost half of his herd because the drought left him without enough feed.
Kirk Siegler/NPR

Originally published on Thu November 20, 2014 9:37 am

Ask Northern California sheep rancher Dan Macon what this drought is doing to his pocketbook and he'll break it down for you real quick.

"It's like if you woke up one morning and lost 40 percent of the equity in your house," he says. "Our primary investment in our ranch is in these sheep and we just sold 40 percent of our stock."

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Politics
8:38 am
Sat November 8, 2014

The GOP Takes Heart From Colorado, But Still Faces 2016 Hurdles

Senator-elect Cory Gardner of Colorado delivers his victory speech to supporters during a GOP election night gathering. Gardner appealed to moderates and unaffiliated voters.
Brennan Linsley AP

Originally published on Sat November 8, 2014 10:33 am

Colorado is one of the battleground states where Republicans made big gains this week. Republicans in the state believe they now have momentum going into the 2016 presidential election.

But the GOP has suffered some punishing losses there lately, owing in part to the state's changing demographics. That trend may still be a big factor in 2016.

The last time Republicans won a U.S. Senate seat here was when Wayne Allard was re-elected in 2002. Back then, Congressman and now Senator-elect Cory Gardner was a young staffer working behind the scenes for Allard.

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Around the Nation
2:46 am
Thu October 30, 2014

Keep On Drillin'? Santa Barbara Prepares To Vote On Oil Future

A cow walks near oil pump jacks in Santa Maria, Calif. Oil production has long been a part of Santa Barbara County, but a new ballot measure could effectively shut down all new drilling operations there.
Jae C. Hong AP

Originally published on Thu October 30, 2014 12:25 pm

Think of California's Santa Barbara County and you might picture the area's famous beaches or resorts and wineries. But in the northern reaches of the vast county, oil production has been a major contributor to the economy for almost a century.

So it's no surprise that the oil industry there is feverishly organizing to fight a local ballot initiative — Measure P — that would ban controversial drilling methods such as hydraulic fracturing. What is turning heads, however, is the sheer volume of money flooding into this local race, mainly from large oil companies.

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Environment
3:26 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

Coping In A Drier World: California's Drought Survival Strategy

The San Luis Reservoir in central California is the largest "off-channel" reservoir in the U.S. It is currently at less than 30 percent of its normal capacity.
Kirk Siegler NPR

Originally published on Wed October 22, 2014 5:44 pm

The past few years have been California's driest on record. Forecasters predict that punishing droughts like the current one could become the new norm.

The state uses water rationing and a 90-year-old water distribution system to cope until the rains come. The system is a huge network of dams, canals and pipes that move water from the places it rains and snows to places it typically doesn't, like farms and cities.

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It's All Politics
3:16 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

Identity Politics Center Stage In California's Central Valley Campaign

On the campaign trail, Amanda Renteria talks often about her parents, who were migrant farmworkers in the Central Valley.
Courtesy Amanda Renteria for Congress

Originally published on Thu October 9, 2014 4:57 pm

In California's rural Central Valley, a candidate's identity means everything in politics. Just take the race between first-term Republican Rep. David Valadao and Democrat Amanda Renteria for the state's 21st Congressional District seat, which is attracting some unusual attention this fall.

In a midterm election year where immigration remains a thorny subject, both Valadao and Renteria talk openly about the need for Congress to pass the stalled comprehensive reform bill.

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Around the Nation
3:06 pm
Sun September 28, 2014

To Counter Gun Violence, Researchers Seek Deeper Data

Surrendered handguns are piled in a bin during a gun buyback event in Los Angeles on May 31, 2014.
David McNew Getty Images

Originally published on Sun September 28, 2014 4:43 pm

For the first time in nearly two decades, federal money is beginning to flow into gun violence research. And there's growing momentum behind creating a reliable national reporting database for firearm injuries and deaths.

On the front lines at the Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center, one of the top trauma hospitals on the West Coast, researchers like Dr. Demetrios Demetriades hope to get a better picture of the scope of the problem, so states can better target their prevention programs.

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Politics
3:28 pm
Wed September 3, 2014

Colorado Republicans Buck National Party Trends On Immigration

Republican Colorado state Sen. George Rivera says the GOP's pitch of small government, low taxes and traditional values is starting to resonate with the state's Latino voters.
Brennan Linsley AP

Originally published on Wed September 3, 2014 5:04 pm

Steel mills, unions and the Democratic Party have defined politics in Pueblo, Colo., for decades. But that doesn't discourage George Rivera.

"When we look at values, when we look at who we are, especially as Hispanics, our values tend to be conservative," Rivera says.

Rivera, a retired deputy police chief, is going door to door for votes in a neighborhood east of downtown, near where he grew up. Last summer, he unseated local Democrat Angela Giron in the state Legislature, in a high-profile recall election that focused on guns.

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