Alanna Elder

Part-Time Reporter

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 USFWS Mountain-Prairie [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Paddling down the Green River, Trout Unlimited project manager Nick Walrath has a fish tale for almost every bend of the Green River below the Fontenelle Dam in southwest Wyoming.

“I drive my wife crazy because I’m like, remember that fish you caught by that big tree?” Walrath says, rowing past the spot where he once made a brown trout “rise” from a patch of grass.

As we crossed into Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge, we spot two young bald eagles perched on the bank, looking past us to the yellow bluffs.

Alanna Elder

The oranges are a hit at Feeding Laramie Valley, where Sandy Moody serves lunch to a steady stream of eaters. By the end of the hour, it’ll add up to more than 60 people from daycares, preschools, and the local neighborhood. Moody said they’ll serve anyone – kids for free and adults for a dollar fifty. 

Gayle Woodsum is the founder of Feeding Laramie Valley, a nonprofit that grows and distributes local produce at no cost.

National Digital Library of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service

A coalition of conservation groups announced Friday, June 30, they intend to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) unless it decides to ban trophy hunting of grizzly bears.

USFWS delisted Yellowstone-area bears last month with the support of members of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, who said that the population is recovered and ready for state management.

Jan Kronsell (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

On a Friday morning in June, you could count the number of riders on Jackson’s town shuttle on two hands. The bus seats fewer than 30 people, but it was still only about a third full. Meanwhile, summertime traffic had set in, and the bus was squeezing between cars to get through the famous Jackson Town Square.

By USFWS Mountain-Prairie (Mule Deer on Winter Range in SW Wyoming) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A Wyoming researcher recently discovered that mule deer continue to avoid areas developed by oil and gas companies, after more than fifteen years.

Biologist Hall Sawyer has been studying a herd near Pinedale since 2000, just as more oil and gas wells were starting to appear on the landscape. Because the deer have steered clear of development, Sawyer says they have had a smaller winter range. The herd’s population started declining in just two years, and by now it has shrunk by 40%.

http://www.freestockphotos.biz/stockphoto/16970

Tick-borne illnesses can be dangerous. That’s why it is a good idea to watch out for ticks when you are outside this summer.  

Ticks in Wyoming do not carry Lyme disease as they do in eastern states, but they can spread Tularemia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Colorado Tick Fever. Katie Brian, an epidemiologist for the state health department, recommends seeing a doctor if you’re having abnormal fatigue, headaches, fever, nausea, or rashes after a tick bite. Brian said her office hasn’t heard of any cases so far this year, but she expects to as the summer continues.  

Bright Agrotech; https://pixabay.com/en/vertical-farm-green-wall-bok-choy-916337/

Seven years after getting its start in a storage unit in Laramie, the company Bright Agrotech is merging with a San Francisco firm.

Bright’s founders developed a technology that allows people to grow food vertically, on indoor towers or exterior walls. Their hydroponic systems nourish plants using nutrient solutions instead of soil. They provide education and equipment to farmers around the world who are interested in this kind of production.

Unemployment rates have dropped in all but four Wyoming counties in the past month.

Teton County saw the greatest drop in joblessness during that time, and Workforce Information Supervisor Tony Glover said this comes as no surprise.

“A lot of that is the pick-up in the tourism, and maybe more people traveling this year than last year,” Glover said.

Teton County’s rate has dropped more than a point since May of 2016, and it’s not alone – every county in Wyoming saw a decline in the annual unemployment rate.

Tama66;https://pixabay.com/en/excavators-construction-machine-1212472/

A highway construction crew in Teton County dug up a box full of hand grenades Tuesday afternoon.

The workers came across the explosives while digging near the Jackson Hole Gun Club. Sergeant Todd Stanyon said no one was hurt.

“When they went to move the box, a small detonation actually occurred in the box,” Stanyon said. “The contents spilled out, and the operator of the excavator saw what he believed to be a hand grenade, at least one hand grenade.”

For strange finds like this one, Stanyon recommended caution.

Prevention Management Organization

  

Matt Stech of Teton County’s Prevention Management Organization (PMO) picked up a gun lock from a pile of boxes on the floor and pulled off a flier that he’d stapled to the packaging. The flier displayed the National Suicide Hotline, Wyoming’s Crisis Text Line, and contact information for the local PMO. Stech has used most of the basement office for storage since his colleague left earlier this spring. Together, they had been distributing the locks around Jackson, stacking them in clear plastic boxes marked “Free”.

 

 

Christine Cabalo: http://www.mcbhawaii.marines.mil/News/News-Article-Display/Article/615289/taking-it-back-help-prevent-prescription-drug-abuse/

Prescription drug-related overdoses in Wyoming were five times higher in 2015 than in 2004, according to the Department of Health. That is one of the reasons that public health workers around the state are working to collect or deactivate medications.

Another reason is that drugs can contaminate the environment if they are flushed down the toilet or thrown away.

Will Dinneen

May is Historic Preservation Month, and the City of Cheyenne kicked it off by loading three 19th century homes onto trailers and moving them to a new neighborhood.

Photo from cheyennecity.org

Laramie County voters decided Tuesday which projects to fund through a sixth-penny sales tax. Of the seven items on the ballot, only two failed.

Among the projects was a proposal to build a new municipal court building and expand the county courthouse. That ballot item passed within such a narrow margin that it triggered a recount. County residents also green-lighted a jail expansion and a new, multi-purpose event facility.

Downtown Laramie

Cities in Wyoming are reworking their liquor laws after the legislature removed state-level restrictions during this year’s session.

Lawmakers rolled back rules that prohibited bars from being open during certain hours, and that required establishments to separate their bars and restaurants with a physical barrier. But it’s up to city governments whether to lift those rules locally or continue enforcing them.

Jordan Cooper via Flickr

Teton County residents will vote in May whether to approve $70 million in revenue collected from a Special Purpose Excise Tax, or SPET. The tax would fund local infrastructure projects, including three housing developments meant to accommodate Jackson’s far-flung workforce. Two of the projects would provide housing for seasonal town and county employees.

Stephanie Joyce

Gillette and other towns in Northeast Wyoming may be looking to carbon products - goods like water filters and building materials – to stabilize the coal industry.

The New Growth Alliance, which includes Sheridan, Buffalo, and Gillette, is a group focused on economic development in Northeast Wyoming. It recently held a conference to discuss alternative coal markets, and now the communities are combining efforts to recruit other types of businesses, as well.  

Caravan to March for Science-Laramie

Communities across Wyoming are joining the National March for Science next Saturday to recognize the field’s contributions to the public.

Joan Anzelmo, one of the organizers of the Jackson march, said she hopes to demonstrate that science is universally important to people’s lives.

By Matt Reinbold from USA (Fishface) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

April showers mean tiger salamanders are now migrating in much of Wyoming.

The species spends the winter underground and in basements, but with recent warm temperatures and evening rains, they are currently moving to breeding habitats near ponds and lakes.

Cody Porter, a PhD student in the University of Wyoming’s ecology program, said that the Western tiger salamander can be found in most parts of the state, even when temperatures are low. If there is a riparian area in your community, you might be able to see them on wetter nights. 

Wyoming Women's Foundation

In time for Equal Pay Day, a national organization has released an analysis that again names Wyoming as the state with the largest gender wage gap in the country.

U.S. Census data from 2016 suggests that women in the state earn just 64 cents for every dollar earned by a man. For full-time female workers, that annual shortfall added up to about $2 billion.

U.S. Senators Mike Enzi of Wyoming and John McCain of Arizona reintroduced the COINS Act last week, pushing to replace the dollar bill with a coin. The legislation would also create a cheaper process for producing nickels and eliminate the penny, which the treasury has said costs more than it is worth.

Proponents of these changes say they will add billions of dollars to the federal budget. Similar bills have failed in multiple recent sessions, but Press Secretary Max D’Onofrio said Enzi sees the bill as a tool to reduce the deficit.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is requesting public comments on its latest plan that evaluates the status of the state’s most threatened species.

Biologists have been using the State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) that was developed in 2010 to study everything from mollusks to sage grouse. Game and Fish planning coordinator Glenn Pauley said the purpose of these strategies is to preempt endangered species listings by identifying threats and population declines early.

Earlier this month, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead signed a bill that requires doctors to offer ultrasounds to patients seeking abortions, but that law may only apply to one provider in the state.

Dr. Brent Blue of Jackson said he is Wyoming’s only doctor who publicly admits to providing abortions. But he has heard of other doctors in the region who have provided their regular patients with abortions that used medications to end a pregnancy, instead of surgical procedures.

publicdomainpictures.net

In Wyoming’s coal-rich Powder River Basin, the city of Sheridan is exploring how renewable sources of energy might fit into its future. The local government applied for a $44,000 research grant that the Wyoming Business Council approved earlier this month.

Now their proposal will go before the governor’s State Land and Investment Board for final approval. The town’s leaders have been looking into wind, solar, and hydropower development since the 1990s, and a recent economic study found that a lack of renewable development in Sheridan could be a deal-breaker for tech companies.

Listen to the full show here. 

In Review: Wyoming's Legislative Session 2017

The Wyoming legislative session is wrapping up today and Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck joins Caroline Ballard to discuss this year’s work. 

JRProbert via Wikimedia Commons

 

  

Dr. Ali Abdullahi  knew that he wanted to work with wildlife when he visited the Masai Mara reserve in his home country of Kenya. He earned a PHd from the University of Wyoming's ecology department, and embarked on an effort to save the hirola - the world's most endangered antelope. Wyoming Public Radio's Alanna Elder spoke with Dr. Ali about his work. 

Alanna Elder

Wyoming’s sheep industry relies on foreign labor from the Department of Labor’s H2-A visa program, which applies to agricultural jobs. When that agency raised wage requirements for sheepherders in 2015, ranchers complained that the rule change could put them out of business. But worker’s advocates argued that the new regulations were not enough. Wyoming Public Radio’s Alanna Elder met with a rancher and a shepherd  just after the latest round of raises went into effect.

 

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