Mountain West News Bureau

 

The Mountain West News Bureau team, from left to right: Amanda Peacher, Judy Fahys, Ali Budner, Rae Ellen Bichell, Maggie Mullen, Nate Hegyi and Kate Concannon.

The Mountain West News Bureau is a collaboration of public media stations that serve the Rocky Mountain States of Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming. Our mission is to tell stories about the people, places and issues of the Rocky Mountain West.

From land and water management to growth in the expanding West to our unique culture and heritage, we’ll explore the issues that define us and the challenges we face. 

Contributing stations include Boise State Public RadioWyoming Public MediaYellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado. Ali Budner is the Mountain West News Bureau reporter based at 91.5 KRCC.

Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Public Domain / U.S. Forest Service

Vicki Christiansen was sworn in this morning as Chief of the U.S. Forest Service. She’s only the second female to serve in this role in its 113-year history.

A Texas federal judge just has declared unconstitutional a decades-old law that aims to keep Native American children within their own communities.

Fourteen-year-old Caydden Zimmerman's school days start early and end late.

He has a 90-minute bus ride to get from the homeless shelter where he is staying in Boise, Idaho, to his middle school. He wakes up at 5:45 a.m., quickly brushes his teeth and smooths some gel in his hair, and then he dashes downstairs to catch his school bus.

A class action lawsuit is alleging the U.S. Olympic Committee headquartered in Colorado Springs tolerated sexual abuse, exploitation and forced labor. 

The U.S. Olympic Committee is not specifically named as a defendant in the suit, but that could change as the suit moves forward. 

On Friday, an intergovernmental organization hosted a hearing in Boulder, Colorado on the ongoing crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women in the U.S. That group faces some of the highest violence and sexual assault rates in the nation.

The Environmental Protection Agency is making $20 million available for states and tribes to voluntarily test drinking water for lead at schools and childcare facilities.

The Department of Interior just released a new science policy that it says will increase transparency. But conservationists are concerned. 

In recent years, President Trump has dismissed climate change as a hoax.

“I think it’s a big scam for a lot of people to make a lot of money,” he said on Fox News in 2015.

But a recent report by the U.S. Department of Transportation predicts global temperature will rise seven degrees by 2100. That’s catastrophic.

An important but little-known public lands fund expired this weekend. 

National Park Service

The National Park Service is donating more funds to preserve, restore and increase education about Japanese American internment camps scattered across the U.S.  Most of them are in the West. 

A federal judge has restored Endangered Species Act protections for grizzly bears living around Yellowstone National Park.

In his ruling, U.S. district court judge Dana Christensen said the federal government didn’t use the best available science when it removed the bears from the threatened species list last year.

The midterm elections are notorious for low voter turnout. In 2014, it was the lowest since World War II. So this year, companies, celebrities and non-profit organizations are rallying behind get-out-the-vote campaigns.

Creative Commons Zero - CC0 / Pixabay

The flu epidemic was especially deadly last year. And our region was no exception. Tens of thousands of people are estimated to have died in the U.S. from the flu virus last season, including a record high of 180 children.  

The sun is just a dim red dot. The nearby Canadian Rockies are shrouded in thick wildfire smoke.

Bob Gray knows we probably shouldn’t be hiking up a mountain right now.

“I have a scratchy throat,” he says. “Physically it effects my breathing. I probably shouldn’t spend a lot of time in it.”

The Mountain West is a pretty conservative place. So when Democrats win here… it’s big news. And now two Democratic governors from the region are mulling a run for president.

Colorado’s John Hickenlooper and Montana’s Steve Bullock are both moderate progressives, both won in fairly conservative places, and both are kind of wonky.

“They’re not that person who can command a crowd,” Lee Banville, a political journalism professor at the University of Montana, says.

Creative Commons 2.0 / Trailsource.com

The outdoor recreation industry is growing faster than ever, especially in our region. In fact, new statistics show this sector grew faster than the overall U.S. economy.

Walking through forests across the Mountain West, you might not realize you’re walking past historical artifacts big enough to crush you. These artifacts are pine and cedar trees that have had their bark peeled off in a special way. The trees are a bit of a mystery to archaeologists, and one they’re running out of time to solve.

Creative Commons Zero - CC0 / Pixabay

The Trump administration just relaxed Obama-era industry regulations for methane leaks from oil and gas operations on federal lands. But reactions to the change in the Mountain West are mixed.  

Our region has attracted the attention of the Terminator.

“I’m right now on a campaign to terminate gerrymandering,” said Arnold Schwarzenegger in a video from Budapest, where he’s shooting his latest film.  

Schwarzenegger is raising money for efforts in four states, including two in the Mountain West, to end the political practice.

We hear about gerrymandering a lot these days, but not necessarily an explanation for what it is. It’s complicated, but not impossible to explain.

It's no secret that water is a problem in the West. Historically, the humble beaver helped maintain wetlands and ponds across the arid landscape but their populations were decimated during the fur trade and their numbers dropped dramatically from 400 million to just 100,000 by the turn of the twentieth century. But Canada's national animal is making a comeback and scientists think they have an important role to play as our region fights drought.

Creative Commons Zero - CC0 / MaxPixel

Nearly three hundred names have been added to the Fallen Firefighter Memorial in Colorado Springs. Occupational cancer claimed many of those lives.

NASA.gov

Teams of people from the Mountain West, including firefighters and Red Cross volunteers, have already been deployed to the East Coast in preparation for Hurricane Florence.

The National Park Service is giving museums and universities across the country grants to return ancestral artifacts and human remains taken from Native American tribes over the years.

Ali Budner / 91.5 KRCC

A nine-year-old boy in Colorado took his own life on the first week of school this year. The tragedy highlighted a pervasive problem in the state and in the Mountain West region as a whole -- the high suicide rate -- especially among youth. Goal Academy in Pueblo, Colorado is a charter program with high schools around the state that focuses on both academic and mental wellbeing.   

Monday was World Suicide Prevention Day. Here in the Mountain West, we have some of the highest suicide rates in the country.

Creative Commons Zero - CC0 / Pixabay

An outbreak of an untreatable viral disease in horses is being blamed on one horse from Colorado. Other horses across the country may have been exposed.    

Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Colorado Parks and Wildlife just announced they’ve discovered a species of cutthroat trout previously thought to be extinct. They also said the species was threatened again this summer.

If the measure passes in November, the town of Golden, Colorado may join a handful of cities that allow 16-year-olds to vote in local elections. The idea is part of a growing conversation to lower the voting age for state and federal elections as well.

The Trump Administration has finally nominated a director for the National Park Service. The new director will manage a public lands system facing record-breaking visitation and $11 billion in maintenance backlog.

 


Creative Commons 2.0 / Bureau of Reclamation

A new study reveals how much water the U.S. uses in energy production. The answer is a lot – 58 trillion gallons. The data breakdown may be critical information for the Mountain West, where energy industries are big, but water can be scarce.

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