Mountain West News Bureau

 

Matt Frank, Digital Editor, Missoula MT, Rae Bichell, Reporter Greeley CO, Nate Hegyi Reporter Salt Lake City UT, Kate Concannon Managing Editor, Seattle, WA Noah Glick Reporter, Reno, NV Ali Budner, Reporter, Colorado Springfos CO, Maggie Mullen Reporter, Laramie WY and Amanda Peacher former reporter, Boise ID. Not shown: Madelyn Beck, Reporter, Boise ID
Credit Matt Bloom / KUNC

The Mountain West News Bureau is a collaboration of public media stations that serve the Rocky Mountain States of Colorado, Nevada, 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 MediaKUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Reno, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado. The O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana is also a collaborator. 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.

Creative Commons Zero - CC0 / Pixabay

Recognizing the youth mental health crisis in the Mountain West, some states are debating bills that address the problem from both inside and outside of schools.


April Poley is a broker and real estate agent in Gillette, Wyoming. Lately she's been getting a lot of her potential clients through a business called Conservative Move.

CSU-Pueblo

Starting this fall, a state university in Colorado will offer a bachelor's degree in the science of the cannabis plant, among the first programs of its kind in the nation.

Southern Utah’s red rock desert is home to towering canyons and the clear, shallow Escalante River. It’s also home to many ancient petroglyphs. Jonathan Paklaian is trying to find one along the banks of the river. He scrambles along a cliff wall until he spots it — a petroglyph he says was drawn more than 800 years ago by the Indigenous Fremont people. 

Fred Dunn / Flickr

As states in the Mountain West and beyond debate the merits of private prisons, Colorado is considering a bill that would look at ways to phase them out. 

Updated 2:24 p.m. MST 2/6/2020

In the face of ongoing litigation from tribes and conservation groups, the Trump administration has finalized plans to expand drilling, mining and grazing across southern Utah — including within the former bounds of Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments. 

Nearly 40 hospitals in the Mountain West are being penalized for having high rates of infections, patient injuries or other complications from hospital stays. That’s according to data released last week from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.


Thousands of cases of the coronavirus have been reported worldwide, with most occurring in China. However, the outbreak is sure to have big economic impacts in the U.S.

Updated at 6:00 p.m.

A bipartisan group of legislators say they plan to introduce a bill aimed at increasing childhood vaccination rates in the state. 

They say the bill would require parents seeking a vaccine exemption for non-medical reasons to use a specific form. Parents would also need to get the signature of a doctor or other immunization provider, or do an online vaccination education class. 

A new survey by the philanthropic arm of the Outdoor Industry Association shows that more people are recreating outdoors, but fewer are doing so regularly. And nearly half of Americans surveyed didn’t participate in outdoor recreation at all in 2018.

 


About one-third of Americans live in areas that regularly have unhealthy levels of air pollution, according to a new analysis out this week from Environment America, an organization of state-based environmental advocacy groups throughout the country.

Every year, road crashes injure millions of Americans, killing tens of thousands and costing taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. According to a new analysis, states in the Mountain West could be doing more to curb crashes.

The Trump administration has spent the past month announcing sweeping changes that could benefit ranchers on public lands, including a proposal to overhaul grazing regulations for the first time in 25 years. 

Rural economies could get a massive boost under policies meant to decrease carbon emissions, according to an analysis by the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank.

 


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In his latest budget proposal, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis requested $7.2 million to begin transitioning the state away from private prisons. A big part of that plan was to close the Cheyenne Mountain Re-entry Center in Colorado Springs. It’s a medium security facility run by the GEO group, one of the largest prison companies in the country. 

InciWeb

A new and sweeping partnership is looking at preventing and preparing for worsening wildfires in the West. 

The Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative is a collaboration of 30 partners including utility companies, wildlife nonprofits, hunting groups, the Forest Service, and water management agencies with a mission to “increase the resilience of forests and communities.”

Mix gelatin, sand and cyanobacteria and what do you get? A solid building material with a low carbon footprint.

Note: KRCC is a member of the Mountain West News Bureau. In order to avoid a potential conflict of interest, this story was overseen by an outside editor.

Colorado Public Radio has signed a new agreement with Colorado College to help operate one of the state’s largest public radio stations, KRCC, an NPR member station based in Colorado Springs. 

Tim Reckmann / Flickr

Electric scooters can be a cheaper, more convenient alternative to getting around in cities. You don’t have to pay for parking or sit behind cars in traffic. And in some places you can rent them anywhere you go using your smartphone.  

Update, Jan. 15 10:11 a.m.: The Department of Interior has provided a statement, which is now included in this story.

The Trump Administration’s Interior Department has largely ignored public comment on proposed rule changes, according to an analysis from the Center for Western Priorities.

The conservation advocacy group looked at ten proposals from Interior, including the easing of offshore drilling regulations and Endangered Species Act protections. What it found was that while more than 95% of public comments were opposed to the changes, the agency still moved forward on most of them.

It was a dry start to the year for some mountain ranges in the region, but recent storms brought most Mountain West snowpack levels back to normal.

 


Kaje / Flickr

The United States could see tens of thousands more violent crimes per year as climate change causes warmer winters, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

As minimum wage goes up, suicide rates go down. That’s according to a new study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

The study found that increasing minimum wage by a dollar actually decreased the rate of suicide by 3.4% to 5.9% among those with a high school diploma or less. That is, those most likely working minimum-wage jobs.

Many ranchers are applauding President Donald Trump after he announced an overhaul of the nation’s bedrock environmental law on Thursday. 

New research shows that you don’t need a big population to foster innovation.

 


Over the last five years, the Mountain West as a whole has experienced a spike in population, while at the same time every state in the region saw a decrease in the number of people living in poverty, according to the latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau.

A new study casts doubt on the safety of state abortion laws in the Mountain West.

Herds of mountain goats occupy mountain ranges all around the Mountain West. Not all are native, though, and some of those transplants are causing problems. That's the case in Wyoming's Teton Range.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife

As the Mountain West grows and hunter numbers decline, states are finding ways to bring in more revenue to fund conservation.

Feral pigs cause an estimated $1.5 billion in damage each year, especially to crops. Now concern is mounting they could be at the doorstep in parts of the Mountain West.

The pigs — which an expert at the USDA has called "one of the most destructive and formidable invasive species in the United States" — could come across the Canadian border into Montana, or traipse into Colorado from the feral pig stronghold of Texas.

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