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 Springs CO, Maggie Mullen Reporter, Laramie WY and Amanda Peacher 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, 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.

Eric Vance / EPA

The law that governs today’s hardrock mines on public lands in the West is nearly 150 years old. New legislation this week from House Democrats would enact significant reforms. 

This story was updated May 3, 2019 at 3:40 p.m.

Measles cases have reached a 19-year high in the U.S., but a bill in Colorado aimed at improving childhood vaccination rates didn’t succeed. It didn’t really fail, either. It just got mired in super-long hearings, pushback from the governor and, ultimately, a legislative schedule that ran out of time before the bill could reach the Senate.

“I’m still today trying to figure out exactly what happened,” says Rep. Kyle Mullica, who sponsored the bill.

In a mostly symbolic move, the U.S. House voted Thursday to stop the Trump administration from exiting the Paris Climate Agreement. Meanwhile, many cities and states in the Mountain West are continuing to warm faster than the national average.

Creative Commons 2.0 / USDA

Plenty of studies have shown how bark beetle infestations have decimated evergreen trees throughout the Rocky Mountain region, but research scientists wanted to figure out how this tree die-off was affecting actual forest animals. Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the U.S. Forest Service found that some species suffered, while others benefited.

Ali Budner / 91.5 KRCC

The backlog in U.S. immigration courts is now over 850,000 cases long. People can wait years for their hearings. And that can be a long time to pay for a lawyer and to make appearances in court. Both of these things can be much harder for immigrants living in rural and mountainous parts of the West.

Joe Ravi / Creative Commons 3.0

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday over whether the Census may include a question about citizenship.

My 420 Tours / Creative Commons 4.0

Federal immigration authorities recently announced that immigrants working in the marijuana industry could risk their chance at gaining citizenship.

Creative Commons Zero - CC0 / pxhere

U.S. Attorney General William Barr announced recently that all asylum-seekers must be detained or deported. Immigrant advocates say this will put more pressure on detention centers that are already failing to meet the needs of detainees.

No new oil and gas leases. No more shrinking monuments. Free entrance to national parks.

Kent Miller / National Park Service

The first golden eagle in Yellowstone National Park to wear a tracking device is dead from lead poisoning. 

Chronic wasting disease is crippling deer populations in the Mountain West, around the country and in bordering Canadian provinces. It's not a bacterium or a virus or even a fungus, but caused by something called a prion, a type of protein that all mammals have in their bodies.

Colorado residents Rose Chilcoat and her husband, Mark Franklin, were leaving southeastern Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument after a camping trip in April 2017 when they were pulled over by three cowboys in a pickup truck.

Creative Commons Zero - CC0

According to the Census Bureau, Western towns with fewer than 5000 people have grown on average in recent years. Meanwhile, populations in similar sized towns in the Northeast and Midwest have gotten smaller.

If you kill a wolf in Idaho, your effort might be worth $1,000. 

A nonprofit in North Idaho covers costs for hunters and trappers who successfully harvest wolves. The group, called the Foundation for Wildlife Management pays up to $1,000 per wolf harvest.

 


Michael Duniway / U.S. Geological Survey

Soil erosion in the West is getting worse. And that’s creating more dust – which isn’t good for ecosystems, human health or the economy.

John Knowles / CU Boulder

A recently-published study shows alpine tundra soil high up on Colorado's Rocky Mountains is releasing more carbon dioxide into the air than it is absorbing. 

Sydney Sweat / Sass Photography

Later this month will mark the 20th anniversary of the school shooting at Columbine High School. Now, current Columbine students have started a controversial campaign to try to bring more awareness to the prevalence of gun violence.

Iman Jodeh

New Zealanders just held a national memorial for the victims of the recent terror attacks there.  Muslim communities are still reeling from the tragedy – including here in the Mountain West.  


Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt faced fiery questions during his senate confirmation hearing Thursday.

 


The closest that Travis Rupp came to getting fired, he says, was the time he tried to make chicha. The recipe for the Peruvian corn-based beer, cobbled together from bits of pre-Incan archaeological evidence, called for chewed corn partially fermented in spit. So, Rupp’s first task had been to convince his colleagues to gather round a bucket and offer up their chompers for the cause.

pxhere / CC0

A new study out of our region shows that when more women are involved in group-decision making about natural resources, conservation gets a boost.

Creative Commons Zero - CC0 / Pixabay

As the U.S. Senate holds gun control hearings, Colorado legislators are pushing forward with their own plan to remove guns from people who are deemed unsafe to themselves or others.

A new study from the Pew Charitable Trusts looked at how long each state could survive on their rainy day funds alone. Wyoming came out on top. The Cowboy State could stay afloat for just over a year on its rainy day reserves. States put these funds aside to prepare for an unexpected spending spike, like in a natural disaster, or to help balance a budget shortfall during a recession.

Liam Neupert

Students went on strike Friday, March 15, in more than 100 countries around the world and every state in the Mountain West region. They want action on climate change.

Sunshineweek.org

This week is “Sunshine Week.” It's promoted every year by journalists and government watchdogs to highlight the importance of open government and transparency. 91.5 KRCC’s Mountain West News Bureau Reporter, Ali Budner, sat down with her MWNB colleague, Nate Hegyi in Salt Lake City, to talk about his recent reporting on the changes to government transparency for journalists.

Ali Budner / 91.5 KRCC

Haven Coleman perched on the steps of the Colorado state capitol in a puffy jacket and hat. The 12-year-old looked tiny against the gray stone columns rising up at her back. With her mom standing nearby, she held up a simple sign. On it, she had written the words “School Strike for Climate” in big black magic-markered letters.

Jeffrey Beall / Creative Commons 2.0

Several Democratic hopefuls for 2020 say they support legalizing marijuana at the federal level. But the potential nominee from our region who oversaw the legalization of the drug is his state, has reservations.

A report out Monday from environmental groups looked at groundwater contamination from coal-fired power plants. Three of the worst sites are located in the Mountain West.

Coal ash is the solid waste leftover when you burn coal. It often gets mixed with water and washed into a pit — an ash pond. If the base of a pond isn’t properly sealed, pollutants in the mix can make their way into groundwater.

In wide open spaces like the rural parts of the Mountain West, there's sometimes little known about the secret lives of plants and animals. There are too many square miles and too few scientists. That's where citizen scientists can come to the rescue.

A study in the medical journal BMJ found a strong association between the strength of a state’s gun laws and its rate of mass shootings.

Paul Reeping is an epidemiologist with Columbia University and first author on the paper. He says researchers had already looked at the relationship between gun laws and outcomes like suicide or homicide.

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