Loon populations in Wyoming have dropped to only 14 pairs and are the rarest nesting bird in the state, according to an initiative by the Biodiversity Research Institute based in Gorham, Maine.
The birds nest mainly in the northwest parts of Wyoming. Executive Director David Evers says loons need large lakes with islands for safe nesting. The initiative—known as “Restore the Call”—will use several innovative strategies to help loons feel less threatened. One way is nesting rafts.
After meeting with its actuaries, the Wyoming Retirement System learned it’s doing better than expected. That’s thanks to the legislature’s increases to the state’s contributions to the fund, and investment returns that came in above projections. Executive Director Ruth Ryerson says the long term outlook for the retirement fund is excellent.
“Pretty much, every plan is projected in 30 years or less to be 100 percent funded. And that’s the goal. That means you have every dollar you need to meet every liability you have.”
Wyoming Public Media is opening the position of Director of Engineering and Technology. Shane Toven, long-time Director of Engineering at WPM, has taken a new position as Editor of Radio Magazine. He will remain with WPM in a part-time capacity.
This position offers a rare opportunity to work with a state network and travel throughout Wyoming, one of the most beautiful states in the union. The network is financially strong, and recently received a $1 million state appropriation for infrastructure upgrades.
For the first time, Laramie’s Snowy Range Summer Theatre is doing a touring show. ‘Swingtime Canteen’ is in Laramie June 19-21 and 26-28 (opening night is free to the public). In between, the show will travel to Riverton on June 22, Rock Springs on June 23, Lander on June 24, and Dubois on June 25. Wyoming Public Radio’s Micah Schweizer spoke with the director, Leigh Selting.
The University of Wyoming’s undergraduate elementary education program has work to do to meet standards for effective teacher training. That’s according to a report released Tuesday by the National Council on Teacher Quality—a think tank that pushes for tougher evaluations of classroom teachers.
The report includes a ranking of U.S. teaching colleges, and found that the vast majority of programs failed to prepare teachers for the classroom.
Governor Matt Mead joined his counterparts in eight other states Monday in asking the Environmental Protection Agency to scrap its new carbon pollution rules. The rules call for a 30 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions from US power plants by 2030.
In a letter to the agency, the governors say that effectively bans coal-fired power. The EPA disagrees, projecting that coal will still provide 30 percent of the nation’s electricity after the rules are implemented, down from almost 40 percent today.
Despite violations at sister plants, the Wyoming Department of Workforce Service never inspected a sugar beet plant in Lovell where an employee was killed in January. Western Sugar Cooperative's Torrington plant received 15 citations in 2013, including one for improper guard rails -- the same problem that led to the death of 28-year-old Anfesa Galaktionoff.
Cigarette smoking rates among high school students have dropped significantly in recent decades—in Wyoming and the rest of the country. That’s according to the results of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey released last week.
Last year, 17 percent of Wyoming high-schoolers reported regularly smoking cigarettes. That’s slightly above the national average, but down from 40 percent in 1991, when the survey began.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture starting a program that pays people to deliver dead trees to power plants that can convert them to biomass fuel. Large swaths of Wyoming’s forests have been killed by pine beetle infestations and some say they pose a fire danger. Todd Atkinson with the Farm Service Agency says he hopes money will give people the incentive to harvest from more remote areas.
An organization that's working to end tribal sovereignty hosted a national conference in Riverton this weekend. The group is protesting the Environmental Protection Agency's recent decision that the city of Riverton falls within Wind River reservation boundaries. That has led to tensions between tribal members, the state, and Riverton. The group--known as Citizens Equal Rights Alliance—posted on their website that it isn't fair that tribal members receive special status because it threatens the individual rights of all Americans.
For years, southeastern Wyoming has been expecting an oil boom that’s never arrived. Just across the border in Colorado, drilling has reached breakneck pace, but Wyoming has been relatively quiet -- until now. The discovery of a new, more promising oil reserve has led to a surge of interest in oil and gas development in Laramie County over the last few months.
In May of 2013, oil and gas companies applied for nine permits to drill in Laramie County. In May of 2014, companies applied for 132.
The transport of crude oil by rail has spiked dramatically in recent years. From 2012 to 2013 the amount carried by the country's major freight railroads increased nearly 75 percent, according to the American Association of Railroads. Even though crude oil accounted for just over 1 percent of overall rail traffic last year, there's growing public concern about the potential oil spills and other hazards.
If you think having candidates stopping by your home can get annoying, Wyoming U-S Representative Cynthia Lummis feels your pain. Following the primary election loss of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Lummis is being bombarded by those interested in that job and other leadership jobs that may come free after Cantor's replacement is chosen. Lummis told Bob Beck that the internal campaigning is something to watch.
This spring, rivers were overflowing banks all over the state. Some rivers saw record—or near-record—flood stages. The Laramie River hit its second highest flood level on record, and that’s only four years after its highest on record in 2010. But floods aren’t all sandbagging and property damage: they also mean plenty of water for the long dry summer ahead.
Returning from military service back into so called normal society continues to be a challenge for many veterans. It doesn’t help if they have difficulty getting Veterans Administration Services. In Wyoming, the two VA hospitals have been criticized for the amount of time veterans need to wait to get care. Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports that social service providers say they are trying to provide adequate services to a growing population of vets.
Robert Sheetz spent five years in the U.S. Navy, working on a flight deck, fixing fighter jets. When he got out, the Colorado native came to Wyoming—to put his GI Bill benefit toward an anthropology degree.
“I was a 23-year-old freshman coming into the University of Wyoming, coming from an area where I had a huge structure system around me from being in the military,” Sheetz said. “So I had to kind of learn to build that system for myself and figure out how to be a college student after not being in school for five years.”
We're joined now by Kathryn Collins. She's a former emergency room physician from Jackson and author of a book called "How Healthy Is Your Doctor?" The book makes the case that eating healthier foods and getting more exercise, people can avoid a lot of common medical problems. Collins says she decided to write the book because she wanted people to know how much power they have to impact their own health.
Darrell Moore grew up in the historic Hotel Wolf in Saratoga, Wyoming. Fredrick G. Wolf, a German immigrant, built the hotel in 1893. Since then, the hotel has had only four owners. Moore’s father bought the Wolf in 1937, and his family maintained the place for 40 years. The hotel and restaurant has hosted hunters, fishers, and ranchers through the years, and is still open to adventurers today. Moore shares his memories of growing up at the Hotel Wolf.
The fifth annual Hyart Film Festival is scheduled for next weekend, June 19-21, at the historic Hyart Theater in Lovell. The festival has culled 160 entries from around the world down to just under 50 films—comedies, drama, sci-fi, horror, and kids movies. Wyoming Public Radio’s Micah Schweizer called the festival’s Creative Guru, Jason Zeller, to find out what movies made the cut.
The state has started plugging some of the thousand-plus orphaned wells in the Powder River Basin. The wells are relics of the coal-bed methane bust, when many companies went bankrupt and walked away without closing their wells. The state has taken on responsibility for plugging them, using a combination of revoked bonds and funds from a production tax.
Oil and Gas Supervisor Mark Watson says they had hoped to start plugging wells a little bit sooner, but that there were scheduling conflicts to take into account.
The Eastern Shoshone tribal liaison has stepped down from her position, saying the governor and legislature were disrespectful to her, both as a woman and tribal member. But the Governor's office says she wasn't fulfilling her responsibility to mediate between the tribes and the state.
Tensions have been mounting between the governor’s office and the Wind River Indian tribes for months. The Environmental Protection Agency recently ruled that the city of Riverton falls within reservation boundaries, setting the state and tribes at odds.
The Laramie Mural Project will celebrate its tenth public artwork with an outdoor party on Friday, June 13. The Mural Project is collaboration between artists, the University of Wyoming Art Museum and the Laramie Main Street Alliance. Since 2011, it has decorated the sides of downtown buildings with images ranging from migrant farm workers to prairie dogs.
This month, thousands of educators from around the country will gather in Denver to discuss public education issues and set policies for the coming year at the National Education Association’s annual meeting.
Wyoming Education Association President Kathy Vetter says one the biggest problems in the state is that teachers' perspectives are often absent from policy initiatives in public education.
They say measles is being transmitted by international travelers and is infecting those who do not have a measles vaccination. Wyoming Department of Health spokesman Kim Deti said state officials are monitoring the situation.
“In Wyoming we haven’t had a case reported since 2010. What seems to be different here than everywhere else? Well, the real truth is…we’ve been lucky.”
St. John’s Medical Center in Jackson is hiring several new surgeons and doctors to join the public hospital’s physician group. It will be the first time the hospital has directly employed surgeons.
St. John’s CEO Lou Hochheiser says the new hires are needed to meet demand in the area.
“A year and a half ago, we had 4 and a half surgeons in this community,” Hochheiser said. “We have lost two and a half of those surgeons, leaving us with two. Therefore, it was the hospital’s responsibility to make sure that gap was filled.”
Political spending both for and against potential anti-fracking ballot measures is already washing over Colorado.
Colorado is quickly becoming ground zero for a political war over the future of hydraulic fracturing. Drill operations are pushing deeper into populated areas these days and some local governments and activists are supporting ballot measures that would give communities greater control over the industry.
In the week since the Obama administration unveiled new rules to curb carbon emissions from the nation’s power plants, Wyoming regulators have been digging in, trying to figure out exactly what they’ll mean for the Cowboy State. So far, they have more questions than answers.