Evening approaches near Toson Hulstai Nature Preserve, eastern Mongolia

Mongolia has the fastest growing economy in the world, fueled by its untapped mineral wealth. But the development threatens the country’s unparalleled wildlife and environment and its singular nomadic traditions, dating back to the empire of Genghis Khan.

In the February/March 2014 issue of Nature Conservancy Magazine, my story, “Giant Steppes,” takes readers to the beautiful yet fragile landscapes of Mongolia and covers how government leaders, wildlife managers, and herders are working to protect the country’s epic grasslands and desert — and its unique culture. The story brought me to the landlocked Asian country — sandwiched between Russia and China — for three weeks of reporting from the booming capital of Ulaanbataar to the oceans of grass  amid nomadic herding families to the desolate Gobi Desert and one of the largest copper mines in the world.