News

U.S. Forest Service

People have been saying for years that forests ravaged by the mountain pine beetle are more fire-prone than healthy ones. But a new study out this week says, think again. 

University of Colorado researcher Sarah Hart was the lead author on the study, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

“Our approach to answering this question was to overlay maps of infested forest that are from the U.S. Forest Service with maps of where fires have burned.”

The largest proposed coal export terminal on the West Coast is facing additional delays.

The Gateway Pacific terminal in Washington State would ship up to 54 million tons of coal a year, mostly from the Powder River Basin. It's currently under environmental review. A draft of that review was expected to be published this year, but changes to the project have pushed that back until at least 2016.

Anna Rader

We're doing something new during our Spring Membership Drive! Today is #WPRBookMonday.

Call 800-729-5897 to pledge in honor of your favorite book  or donate here. 

Senate Energy GOP

U.S. Senator John Barrasso will be chairing a congressional hearing on the Wind River Reservation at the end of March that will bring tribal officials and law enforcement together to testify on drugs use on the reservation and different methods to curb use.

The Wind River Reservation was one of four reservations chosen for a law enforcement surge pilot program in 2010 and 2012 to combat substance abuse and violent crime. Barrasso says the hearing was called to find out if it was the surge or some other factors that helped curb crime.

Flickr user slodocents archive

A Canada goose found near Cheyenne has bird flu.

The strain of the disease is H5N2 and is highly contagious among birds. But so far this version of avian influenza has only been found in the one bird in Wyoming.

State veterinarian Jim Logan says that the disease has never affected humans…but it can be very harmful to domestic poultry. He says up to ninety percent of domestic birds with the disease could die. Logan recommends that people who own domestic fowl, like chickens or falcons, should keep them away from wild waterfowl.

The Hess Corporation announced a $15 million donation to the University of Wyoming’s School of Energy Resources Thursday. Hess has now given a total of  $25 million to UW, making the oil and gas giant the largest corporate donor in the university’s history.

The funds will go towards construction of UW’s High Bay Research Facility—as well as equipment used in the facility and some proprietary research done there. Hess’s research will focus mostly on figuring out how to tap hard-to-reach oil and gas reservoirs.

With a formal complaint filed by the Wyoming Attorney General's office, the state became the first to challenge a new federal rule that regulates hydraulic fracturing on public lands. 

Among other things, the rule requires disclosure of chemicals used in fracking and tests to make sure a well isn't leaking. According to the complaint filed in federal district court today, the new rule represents federal overreach by the Bureau of Land Management and conflicts with Wyoming’s own hydraulic fracturing regulations.  

Special Premium: The Best of WPR Package

Mar 26, 2015

Good news Wyoming Public Media listeners! We have a brand new thank-you gift for the Spring Membership Drive. Drum roll..."The Best of WPR Package!"

For a pledge of $480 or you can break it down to $40/month, you'll receive:
• 2 Chico Bison bags 
• 1 Bison ceramic mug
• 1 Bison T-shirt
• 1 I Heart Pet Bowl

The clock is ticking for Governor Mead and his sage grouse team. They have a September deadline to re-evaluate their so-called Core Area Strategy that would slow the bird’s declining population so the U.S. Fish and Wildlife doesn’t list it as an endangered species.

Getting doctors to move to Wyoming has long been a big problem, but maybe just borrowing them could be an alternative. A new interstate compact law could make it easier for more out-of-state doctors to practice in Wyoming by fast tracking their licensing process. The state continues to wrestle with a severe shortage of physicians that’s left many rural communities without adequate health care. Representative Sue Wilson of Cheyenne sponsored the bill and was excited to see Wyoming be the first to pass the law.

Liz Rader

Check out slideshow above to see the menagerie of pets who listen to Wyoming Public Radio! Thank you to everyone who posted pictures of your pets on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for Pet Wednesday. 

 

Here's a fun story from two of our listeners that was too good not to share! Photos of their pets are in the slideshow above:

 

Joshua Doubek / Wikimedia Commons

With oil prices hovering at multi-year lows, many companies are choosing to store, rather than sell their oil. In addition to conventional storage in tanks and tankers, companies are also choosing to store the oil in the ground. 

Aaron Schrank

Fort Washakie High School is on track to graduate more students than ever this year. It still won’t be a big number, but getting a high school degree is a big deal for students at this small school on the Wind River Indian Reservation. Some are making college plans. Others are just crossing their fingers hoping to get through the rest of the school year. 

Blaze Condon was a junior last semester, but she’s earned enough credits to graduate from Fort Washakie in May. She says it felt great to break that news to her family.

Dan Boyce

The federal government has released its first set of rules addressing fracking on public lands, and they’re already getting pushback—in Congress and in court.

Stephanie Joyce

When it comes to oil and gas drilling in urban and suburban areas, the question is often ‘how close is too close?’ That’s been the major point of contention in Wyoming, where the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is currently considering a rule to increase the setback distance between oil and gas wells and houses from 350 to 500 feet. Many homeowners would like it to be even further. Distance is only one part of the issue though, as Brad Brooks would attest.

Bob Beck

A few weeks ago the Wyoming legislative session came to a close and Governor Matt Mead admitted that he had a number of concerns. The biggest was the failure of the legislature to pass Medicaid Expansion. The governor tells us that he knew it would be a tough sell, but it was tougher than he thought.

Bob Beck

Five years ago the Wyoming legislature embarked on its latest attempt at reforming education in the state. Lawmakers said Wyoming was spending a lot  of money on education and students were underperforming. After rejecting drastic changes such as getting rid of teacher tenure, the legislature settled on coming up with a way to score school districts, schools, teacher leaders, and teachers themselves.

Miles Bryan

Jodi Glover is exhausted. She usually is by the end of the day. Glover works two full time jobs: one as a doctor’s assistant in Cody, the other as the caregiver to her twenty year old son, who was recently diagnosed with schizophrenia.

“Literally he’ll stop eating for three or four days,” Glover said, describing one of her son’s psychotic episodes. “He is totally vacant, irrational, and also has refused to take medication. So as his caregiver, I’ve had to go to some extreme measures.”

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

With oil prices now at a six year low, oil companies have been idling hundreds of drilling rigs. For the wells that remain active, the key is getting more out of less...which is tricky because when you drill for oil, only around 5 percent of what’s underground is actually recovered. That’s according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Inside Energy’s Leigh Paterson reports on how these days - with prices so low -  producers are using technology to chase oil thousands of feet below the earth’s surface. 

Wyoming officials have released the state’s first comprehensive plan to combat homelessness. Titled  “A Home for Everyone,” it lays out the state’s strategy for the next decade. It has been in the works for the last year and half. Wyoming Public Radio’s Miles Bryan sat down with Wyoming homeless services coordinator Brenda Lyttle to talk about the plan.

Smith’s Food and Drug Store in Jackson honored firefighters who helped save the store from a propane fire last November.

Jackson Hole Fire put out the blaze which started inside at propane store and was spreading towards an eleven-thousand gallon propane tanker.

More than fifty firefighters were on the scene. Smith’s Grocery Store is donating $5,000 of gift-cards to the Department and  hosted a dinner Thursday.

Kathy Clay is the Jackson Hole Fire Marshall and says the Grocery Store wasn’t the only business in harm’s way.

As kids across Wyoming take the Proficiency Assessment for Wyoming Students—or PAWS—test this month, the State Board of Education is looking for input on the future of statewide testing.

With the adoption of the Common Core State Standards, the state needs to decide what test it will use to gauge student learning down the line. Board member Sue Belish says lawmakers asked the State Board to play a role.

Wyoming’s first comprehensive plan to tackle homelessness was released on Thursday.

Titled “A Home for Everyone,” the fifty-six page document lays out a strategy for how Wyoming will tackle homelessness over the next ten years.

This year, state officials counted 757 homeless people in Wyoming. Few were counted in the western half of the state, where according to the plan, there are no homeless services outside of Jackson.

Wyoming is now home to the largest conservation bank in the country. The conservation bank program allows private landowners to permanently protect a critical habitat area in exchange for credits that can be sold to developers who plan to disturb critical habitat elsewhere.

Wyoming Officials Will Consider Changes To Title 25

Mar 18, 2015

Wyoming officials will soon meet to consider how to reform the state’s system of involuntary treatment for mental health issues, known as Title 25.

That system allows police or mental health officials to detain someone they consider to be a danger to themselves or others, and make them undergo psychiatric treatment.

The Department of the Interior will finalize new rules for fracking on federal lands in coming days, Secretary Sally Jewell said Tuesday during a speech outlining her energy agenda for the next two years. She quipped that the rules governing oil and gas haven’t changed much since she was a petroleum engineer 30 years ago and that it’s time for an update.

Robert Earl Keen is one of Americana's biggest stars. His music career spans three decades, he has released 18 albums, and he even strummed and sang his way into the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame. He'll be playing in the Town Square of Jackson Hole on Friday for the Jackson Hole Rendezvous Music Festival. Keen's love of music all started in bars in Houston. But as he told Wyoming Public Radio's Caroline Ballard, he wasn't there for the bands - he was there for foosball.

In the recent legislative session, Wyoming lawmakers voted to allow the State Board of Education to again consider the Next Generation Science Standards. In its first meeting since the session ended, the Board voted unanimously Tuesday to get back to work adopting science standards.

Last year, a committee of Wyoming science educators recommended the Next Generation Science Standards after 18 months of review. All members of that committee will be invited back to continue their work--and those who don’t return will be replaced.

The number of people in Wyoming who have purchased health insurance through the federal health insurance marketplace has nearly doubled since last year. More than 21,000 consumers signed up for plans in 2015 as part of the Affordable Care Act. Last year, nearly 12,000 people signed up for a plan.

Monica Jennings is a Marketplace Navigator with Enroll Wyoming. She says despite many Wyomingites enrolling, there are still many in the state without health coverage who would have benefited from Medicaid expansion.

Zach Mahone / Vail Valley Foundation

Pressure is mounting for a decision in Washington that would lift the crude oil export ban. Energy executives met with Obama administration officials last week to lobby for lifting it. This past weekend, they made their case at an energy conference in Colorado.  

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