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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1:19am

Tue April 29, 2014
Race

Sterling's Tarnished History Of Alleged Discrimination

Originally published on Tue April 29, 2014 10:52 am

LeBron James of the Miami Heat wears black socks to protest Clippers owner Donald Sterling during the Heat's playoff game Monday against the Charlotte Bobcats. Stars throughout the NBA have offered bitter rebukes of Sterling.
Streeter Lecka Getty Images

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been at the heart of racial controversies before.

Sterling, one of the longest-tenured owners of an NBA franchise, is alleged to have made racist comments in an audio tape that was first posted by the celebrity gossip site TMZ.

He is also a prominent real estate mogul in LA who, ironically, has been honored for his philanthropy by the local NAACP.

The NBA says it will announce findings Tuesday afternoon from its investigation into the controversy.

A Fortune In Real Estate

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1:26am

Tue April 22, 2014
The Salt

Fields And Farm Jobs Dry Up With California's Worsening Drought

Originally published on Wed April 23, 2014 4:47 pm

Recent rains kept Suzanne and Mike Collins' orange grove alive, but the rainy season is ending. If they don't get federal irrigation water by this summer, their trees will start dying.
Kirk Siegler/NPR

On a recent afternoon on the main drag of Orange Cove, Calif., about a dozen farm workers gather on the sidewalk in front of a mini-mart.

One man sits on a milk crate sipping a beer. A few others scratch some lotto tickets. Salvador Perez paces back and forth with his hands stuffed in the pockets of his jeans.

If there is no water, there's no work, he says in Spanish.

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1:39am

Mon April 21, 2014
Around the Nation

Watchdog's New Target: Embattled LA Sheriff's Department

Originally published on Mon April 21, 2014 11:59 am

Prosecutor Max Huntsman delivers his closing arguments in the corruption trial of Angela Spaccia, the former city manager of Bell, Calif., in November. Huntsman's new challenge is to monitor the scandal-ridden LA County Sheriff's Department.
Pool Getty Images

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is one of the nation's most troubled law enforcement agencies.

Eighteen current and former deputies are facing felony charges as part of a federal probe into allegations of widespread prisoner abuse in county jails. The federal government is also investigating alleged cases of deputies on patrol using excessive force during routine traffic stops, and targeting blacks and Latinos.

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2:07pm

Thu April 17, 2014
Environment

Unlikely Partnerships Spring From California Water Crisis

Originally published on Fri April 18, 2014 5:13 pm

As California farms struggle amid intense drought, farmers are pressing the federal government to help solve a water crisis.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

At a recent rally in Fresno County, Calif., farmers in plaid shirts stood side by side with migrant farmworkers in ball caps, holding signs that read "sin agua, no futuro" and "no water, no food." Fresno is the top agriculture-producing county in the U.S., with more than $6 billion in annual sales.

Protesters argued that farms could go out of business without more water, and there would be mass layoffs. That rhetoric may be familiar, but the two groups' alliance is decidedly unusual.

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5:52am

Sat April 5, 2014
Around the Nation

Argument May Have Led To Fort Hood Shooting

Originally published on Sat April 5, 2014 9:18 am

Officials at Fort Hood, Texas, are investigating an argument that may have led to a shooting spree there this week. They are moving away from a focus on the suspect's mental health issues.

2:45pm

Fri April 4, 2014
News

In Wake Of Fort Hood Shooting, Attention Turns To Base Security

Originally published on Fri April 4, 2014 4:18 pm

While it appears the 2009 attack at Fort Hood was different in many ways from what occurred Wednesday, the latest attack is focusing attention again on security measures there. Meanwhile, we are learning more about the alleged shooter, Specialist Ivan Lopez.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

2:31am

Thu March 20, 2014
The Salt

Nevada Farmers Hack The Drought By Switching Up The Crops

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 10:25 am

An alfalfa farmer on the Duck Valley Reservation in Nevada laser levels a field to more evenly and efficiently distribute water. While alfalfa is still the main crop for many farmers in northern Nevada, some are experimenting with grapes, too.
USDAgov/Flickr

Take a drive around the perimeter of Colby Frey's farm in Nevada and it's clear you're kind of on an island — an oasis of green surrounded by a big, dusty desert.

Nearby, a neighbor's farm has recently gone under. And weeds have taken over an abandoned farmhouse in the next property over.

"It's just kind of sad, because it seems like it's kind of slowly creeping towards us," says Frey, a fifth-generation farmer trying to adapt to the current drought in California and in the far West.

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3:17am

Tue March 18, 2014
Around the Nation

Calif. Fight Over Concealed Weapons Could Head To High Court

Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 3:24 am

A three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that San Diego County's restrictions on concealed carry permits are unconstitutional. The case could have national implications.
iStockphoto

California is shaping up to be the next major battleground over the Second Amendment, as gun rights activists in the nation's most populous state push for loosening concealed carry laws.

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1:21am

Fri February 28, 2014
The Salt

Drought Could Dry Up Nevada Dairy Farmers' Expansion Plans

Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 1:13 pm

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

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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1:44am

Wed February 19, 2014
Around the Nation

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

Originally published on Wed February 19, 2014 5:37 am

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

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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4:29pm

Wed February 5, 2014
Around the Nation

Scientists Help Western States Prepare For Drought As New Norm

Originally published on Wed February 5, 2014 8:23 pm

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

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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7:01am

Sun February 2, 2014
Energy

Oil Train Derailments Spur Calls For Safety Measures

Originally published on Mon February 3, 2014 12:24 pm

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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12:59am

Fri January 31, 2014
The Great Plains Oil Rush

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

Originally published on Fri January 31, 2014 11:26 am

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

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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12:54am

Wed January 29, 2014
Around the Nation

On The Plains, The Rush For Oil Has Changed Everything

Originally published on Wed January 29, 2014 10:49 am

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

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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3:00pm

Mon December 30, 2013
Around the Nation

Whale Traffic Jam Delights Visitors And Baffles Scientists

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 4:13 pm

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

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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7:48am

Sat December 28, 2013
Number Of The Year

A Tragic Year For Wildland Firefighters Ends In Reflection

Originally published on Mon December 30, 2013 6:22 am

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

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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3:08am

Thu December 12, 2013
Around the Nation

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

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 7:41 am

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

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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3:23pm

Wed December 11, 2013
U.S.

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

Originally published on Wed December 11, 2013 6:47 pm

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

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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4:15pm

Mon December 9, 2013
Law

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

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 8:45 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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3:37pm

Wed December 4, 2013
Around the Nation

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

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 7:28 pm

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

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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