Mountain West News Bureau

Ali Budner / 91.5 KRCC

The 2018 midterms could be the year of the woman and the possibly the independent as well - especially in Colorado.

Football season kicks off soon with the sport still mired in controversy over whether players should stand for the national anthem. A new NFL policy that would force them to do that is now in limbo while the league negotiates with its players. But the underlying debate over whether political protest belongs on the football field is a familiar story to the University of Wyoming.

By Jeffrey Beall / Creative Commons 4.0

Some Steamboat Springs, Colorado residents are welcoming the Interior Department Secretary with a protest Friday evening.  Ryan Zinke is the keynote speaker at the Steamboat Institute’s annual ‘Freedom Conference,’ a private event.

Over the next few weeks, we're going to take you on a tour of some of our favorite public lands.  

Most people visit Curt Gowdy State Park in Southeastern Wyoming for the world-class mountain biking, reservoirs filled with rainbow trout, and hikes through steep granite formations.

But entomologist Christy Bell comes for the bees.

Creative Commons 2.0 / USDA

A new study shows air pollution like soot, dust and smoke is down around the country with one exception: wildfire prone areas like the Mountain West.  

Record-breaking wildfires in California have prompted tweets from President Trump and U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. They blame the fires on “bad environmental laws,” too many dead or dying trees, and not enough logging.

The Denver Post wasn’t dying, says Larry Ryckman; it was being murdered.

“We were under attack by our own owners,” says Ryckman, who was until recently senior editor of news at the newspaper.

Phoenix Haus

Today’s jobs report that puts unemployment at a low of 3.9%  is not necessarily good news for companies competing for potential workers, especially in rural areas, where it’s already challenging to attract labor. Businesses and governments are coming up with creative solutions.

Capt Darin Overstreet / [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

As record wildfires rage across the West, funding for fire prevention science is in jeopardy. Under President Donald Trump's 2019 budget proposal, cuts to various programs will be significant.

A recent study is helping researchers understand the role of wind in the largest forest fires.


On a recent Tuesday morning at the West Jordan library outside Salt Lake City, Peter Sadler was carefully stabbing an orange with a syringe.

Climate change is causing temperatures to rise, fanning the flames of wildfires across the region. But when it comes to extreme weather in the region, there’s a new kid on the block — tornados.  

Lance Cheung / USDA, public domain

A coalition of advocacy and labor groups have sent a petition to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). They’re calling for specific standards to protect construction, farm and other outdoor laborers from extreme heat. Right now there are no specific protections in place.  

Ali Budner / 91.5 KRCC

Hay prices are spiking this year, driven up by a drought-induced shortage of the crop. It’s affecting ranchers across the board, but horse owners in particular are feeling the pinch. Horses eat higher quality hay, so it’s harder to get. It’s forcing horse owners in Colorado to buy more hay from neighboring states like Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana and that’s driving the cost up even more.  


Steve Johnson / Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0

Westerners in many states are using less water.  However that’s not the case in the Mountain West. In Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Idaho, home usage went up; in Montana it stayed the same. Experts say these figures are based less on population growth and more on state water policies.

Wyoming and Colorado are in the top ten natural gas producing states. But in those states – and across the country – a lot of that gas is escaping straight into the air. Scientists are now working to come up with a better way to track those leaks down.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). 

The House just passed a bill to create a 9-1-1 type service nationwide for suicide prevention. This change could be especially important for our region, which has some of the highest suicide rates in the country.

When outsiders think of the American West, they probably think of mustangs.

The horses’ ancestors were brought to the New World by conquistadors more than five centuries ago and nowadays, thousands of wild horses roam the Mountain West – especially in Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and Nevada.

The Pew Research Center is reporting that more than a third of large newspapers laid off staff in the last year or so, including in our region.

When The Denver Post laid off about a third of its newsroom earlier this year, senior editor for news Larry Ryckman left to start something new, The Colorado Sun.

Dr. Christopher Paddock; public domain license / CDC

A new study out of Colorado State University shows that disease-bearing ticks are more widespread than previously thought, but the Mountain West is still relatively safe.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an executive order this week requiring that abandoned oil and gas equipment be plugged up or removed. 

The move comes about a year after an old natural gas pipeline leaked methane into a home in Firestone, Colorado. The home exploded, killing two people and injuring another.

Pikas are fluffy mammals that live at high altitudes across the West. They squeak when danger nears. The squeaky fluff-balls are considered indicators of climate change because they’re so sensitive to heat. Scientists say they have found some of animals in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains are behaving strangely.

Jessica Castillo Vardaro, a wildlife biologist with the University of California, Berkeley, studies pika genetics, a field that can involve some unusual data collection methods.

Ali Budner / 91.5 KRCC

Four U.S. Senators are objecting to a program that teaches TV weathercasters about the science of climate change. As the Mountain West region deals with record high temperatures, that’s left meteorologists here figuring out how to report on the science of the weather.   

TOM KOERNER / USFWS / CREATIVE COMMONS

Hundreds of veterans are calling on Congress to scrap a seemingly unrelated attachment to this year’s defense spending bill.

The Bureau of Land Management planned to lease about 18,000 acres of land in southern Colorado for oil and gas drilling. Now, the bureau says it’s holding off so it can consult with the Navajo Nation.

Creative Commons Zero - CC0

Record-breaking temperatures are scorching the United States with parts of our region seeing all-time highs. A number of heat-related deaths are already being reported in the U.S.

There’s a storm rolling in over the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana. The clouds are low and dark as distant lightning cracks over a green prairie. 

Wade Running Crane is starting to get wet.

“This is like a sign from Ashley that she’s here,” he said.

A recent report from a non-profit group aimed at erasing misconceptions about Native Americans says Indigenous people still face discrimination and invisibility.

A year and a half into the Trump presidency and several federal land agencies do not have directors—

including the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Former land managers say the lack of leadership has grave consequences for the future of public lands.


 


Update, 1:49 p.m. Monday: The suspect in Saturday night’s mass stabbing is now facing first-degree murder charges after one of the victims died at a Utah hospital.

 


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