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.

Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control

Colorado is testing out self-driving ATVs to assist wildland firefighters at work. The state is working with Honda to test out the company’s emerging technology.    

Increased tariffs on Chinese goods will ‘devastate’ outdoor recreation companies, an industry group warned in a letter sent to President Trump Wednesday.

It’s no secret that in peak season Yellowstone National Park is getting really, really crowded these days.

startupphotos / Creative Commons 2.0

Colorado just passed a bill that will create media literacy guidelines for schools. It joins Utah and a growing number of states tackling this issue.

REBECCA BOONE / AP Images

The Mountain West News Bureau is following the case of a transgender inmate serving a nine-year sentence for sexual abuse of child under 16. This inmate is suing the state of Idaho for gender reassignment surgery, and the landmark case is now being considered by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The eventual ruling could affect access to treatment for transgender inmates across the country. 

cooksr / Creative Commons 2.0

A new report shows that nearly all national parks in the U.S. have poor air quality.

The report from the National Parks Conservation Association says that 96% of our national parks have significant air pollution problems. In fact, it says, 33 of America’s most-visited national parks are as bad as our 20 largest cities.

Colorado lawmakers passed a bipartisan bill giving patients more protection from a practice called “surprise medical billing,” or “balance billing.” Now, it’s headed to the governor’s desk.

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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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