Alanna Elder

Part-Time Reporter

Email: aelder2@uwyo.edu

Alanna Elder is studying Agroecology and Environment and Natural Resources. She has lived in Wyoming since you could rent VHS from the grocery store. She counts among her heroes her grandmother, who probably introduced her to WPR, and a bunch of women named Terry and Joan. Like many Laramie-ites before her, she is happiest in the mountains.

By Thomas R Machnitzki (thomas@machnitzki.com) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

The Wyoming Department of Corrections (DOC) transferred 88 inmates from the state penitentiary to a private prison in Tutweiler, Mississippi. The first group of 60 got there at the beginning of this month, with another 28 arriving this past Friday.  

Public forum participants discuss agriculture in Casper College Student Union.
Alanna Elder

About 15 people circled a giant notepad at Casper College. They had already filled several pages and stuck them to the wall, and they were still brainstorming.

University of Wyoming

Until recently, Wyoming was one of only two states without a chapter of the National Black Law Students Association. UW law student Debra Bullock started a chapter this winter, in part to be able to participate in the organization’s Nelson Mandela International Negotiations Competition. 

Milonica at English Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs will host trainings and listening sessions in the coming months, in response to a study by a consultant that found dissatisfaction among employee groups.  

Craigh Okraska - Wild Horses

The citizen board for the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro Program will not meet this month as planned. The board gives advice to the BLM about how to manage the species on federal lands. The cancellation is frustrating for members who said the agency has given no response to its recommendations for two years.

Battle Creek is a tributary of the Yampa River, which flows into the Colorado River.
By Dicklyon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

At the end of the 2018 Legislative Session, the Wyoming House and Senate resolved two water project bills, ultimately agreeing to fund the West Fork Reservoir. The original legislation would have allocated $40 million, but the House eliminated the project completely. The Senate later resurrected it with $10 million in funding, and eventually, lawmakers reached a compromise of $4.7 million. 

Beekeepers
CC0 Creative Commons

Beekeepers will have an opportunity to hone their craft at a conference this weekend in Cheyenne.

Raspberry deLight Farms

One committee taking on Wyoming Governor Matt Mead’s economic diversification initiative will hold a public forum about agriculture this week.

The Executive Committee on Economically Needed Diversity Options For Wyoming, or ENDOW, has divided into five subcommittees representing different parts of the state’s economy.

Colorado River Water Users Association

The House last week removed the West Fork Reservoir from a bill that includes a number of water projects proposed around the state. On Wednesday, the Senate returned $10 million in funding for the dam near Baggs. Originally, state water developers asked for $40 million for the project, and estimated that it would cost twice that. 

Alanna Elder

High winds in West Laramie exacerbated a fire that started around 11 Monday morning and quickly spread to multiple buildings in a mobile home park. Local officials asked residents to evacuate as they worked to extinguish the fire which destroyed nine homes. No one was injured.

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton

The Wyoming Department of Health has added two vaccines to the list of those required for children to attend school or daycare in the state. One of the two is a vaccine for rotavirus, which affects the stomach and intestines. According to State Epidemiologist Alexia Harrist, the rotavirus vaccine can only be given to babies younger than eight months old.

Wyoming State Legislature

Wyoming’s House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday that would sharpen anti-stalking laws.

House Bill 8 raises the maximum penalty for misdemeanor stalking from six months to one year, with up to three years of probation. The maximum penalty for felony stalking is 10 years under existing state law.

Credit By Paul Rau and the Bureau of Land Management via CC BY 2.0

About 20 years ago, Wyoming acquired a ranch north of Cody that had briefly been the home of a wanted drug smuggler. Now, there’s debate in Park County about what to do with the property.

The Park County Sheriff and another local complained to the County Commissioners that the Beartooth Ranch near the Clark Fork of the Yellowstone River is an eyesore, full of decrepit buildings and weeds. So, the commissioners decided to write a letter to Governor Matt Mead requesting the right to sell the property.

Cqfx at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Jennet Nedirmammedova a senior at the University of Wyoming invited me into her apartment, a couple of blocks from campus. It, is cozy – a couple of rooms with paintings on every wall. She cooks was cooking pasta, and offers me some as we sit down at a wooden table edging her kitchen and the stairway. Nedirmammedova came to Wyoming from Turkmenistan to study environmental science, and she has since added a second major in religious studies, plus two minors. She also works two jobs.

https://torange.biz/27249.html via Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

The 5th Annual High Plains Organic Conference will take place at the end of this month in Cheyenne, with presentations from agricultural producers, scientists, and policy experts.

The first day will provide an overview of programs that pay farmers for using organic practices and the rules for getting certified. On the second day, participants will discuss topics like choosing seeds, improving soil quality, and livestock health.

Wyoming Water Resources Data System;http://www.wrds.uwyo.edu/wrds/nrcs/snowrept/snowrept.html

Wyoming’s snowpack is currently in a better shape to protect against a drought than most other Western states.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service reported this week that statewide, there is more snow in the mountains than the 30-year average. But the agency’s Ken Von Buettner said it is a lot more useful to look at how individual basins are doing.

Alanna Elder

Standing behind a card table filled with stacks of pamphlets, Joy and Duane Koewn greeted people as they walk into the Forest Service’s open house in Laramie. Their mission was to get people to oppose the Landscape Vegetation Analysis, or LaVA – a project that will enable the U.S. Forest Service to cut, thin, or burn up to 360,000 acres of forest land over 10 to 15 years.

coralandtusk.com

A Brooklyn-based design company is moving its inventory and order fulfillment hub to Pinedale. Artist Stephanie Housley creates embroidered home décor under the brand name Coral and Tusk, which is sold around the world. 

About a year and a half ago, she and her husband decided to move from Brooklyn to the western part of Wyoming. Housley said the landscapes she has visited in the state inspired many of her designs. 

By Terry Tollefsbol, NATIONAL CONSERVATION TRAINING CENTER-PUBLICATIONS AND TRAINING MATERIALS (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Environmental groups continue to voice alarm after the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission recommended moving forward on a grizzly bear hunting season. At a January meeting, the commissioners instructed the Game and Fish Department to start writing rules for hunting regulations. The first season could open as early as this fall.

If you want to become a licensed dental hygienist or sell insurance in Wyoming, you have to be reviewed by a professional licensing board.

These boards oversee a number of industries in the state, and their rules for admitting people convicted of a crime vary depending on the profession. State lawmakers have introduced two bills that would instruct all licensing boards to look past convictions for some crimes.

krossinspectors.com

Radon is the second most common cause of lung cancer in the state after smoking, according to the Wyoming Department of Health. Radon is an odorless, colorless, radioactive gas that exists in nature.

"When uranium breaks down in the soil, radon is a by-product, and radon can get into your home through cracks or your plumbing, or any space that allows air to enter your home," said Integrated Cancer Services Program Outreach Coordinator Allie Bain.

Bureau of Land Management; https://www.flickr.com/photos/mypubliclands/22885798609

U.S. Representative Liz Cheney has proposed an amendment to the Wyoming Wilderness Act to allow recreation in three Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) in northwest Wyoming. But critics say it will hurt a local effort to decide whether the areas should be wilderness or not.

By ProgWork1 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this fall, the University of Wyoming sent emails to law school students with concerns about the 37-year-old man who shot at police officers in Highlands Ranch, Colorado on Sunday morning.  

Matthew Riehl was a UW Law School graduate who at one time practiced law in Wyoming, and a veteran who served in Iraq. Matthew Riehl had been posting threatening and irrational statements about law school faculty, according to UW Police Chief Mike Samp.

National Park Service

On Friday, National Park Service Director Mike Reynolds and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced plans to better protect park service employees from harassment.

Melodie Edwards

Several advocacy groups were vindicated this week when a federal appeals court ruled Wyoming’s data trespass laws unconstitutional. Now, a lower court will reconsider the statutes, which forbid people from trespassing in order to take pictures or data samples from public lands. The laws also restrict agencies from using data they receive from people who got it by crossing private lands.

NASA; https://www.flickr.com/photos/usdagov/13592602893

University of Wyoming veterinary scientists are working on a test that will differentiate two types of brucellosis, a disease that has caused concern among cattle ranchers in Wyoming.

Epidemiologist Brant Schumaker is leading the project. He said the name brucellosis applies to a group of infections caused by different strains of a bacteria called Brucella.

With permission from Rock Springs Main Street/Urban Renewal Agency

Urban Renewal Agency Director Chad Banks was leading a group of Rock Springs residents through a tunnel beneath the train tracks that break the downtown business district in half. The underpass doubles as an art gallery, meant to advertise local artists and lure people to explore both sides of the railroad.

 

The railroad gave Rock Springs its start as a coal town. Local mines fueled the trains that reached the area in the 1860s. Public Services Director Amy Allen said the city’s layout matches the scatter of those original mines.

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