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.

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.

Heart Mountain Interpretive Center

The Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation is spearheading an effort to improve communication between 10 former Japanese American Confinement Sites.

The All Camps Consortium is a group of Japanese-American advocates and people in charge of historic sites like Heart Mountain near Powell.

Several groups are working on a project aimed at representing the cultural importance of elk to the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes.

Public Domain

As national confusion over the future of health care continues, an organization in Wyoming is pressing hospitals to be more transparent.

Twelve hospitals across the state participated in a survey by the Leapfrog Group, which works with the Wyoming Business Coalition on Health to evaluate providers in the state. 

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has released a final version of their State Wildlife Action Plan, or SWAP. This is an update from the 2010 document they have been using to guide management of all non-game species in Wyoming.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/chadh-flickr/2568757313

State veterinarians confirmed that plague is killing prairie dog colonies in the Thunder Basin National Grassland of northeastern Wyoming. Reports of plague have come in from other parts of the state as well.

CGP Grey (2009-09-09T19-50-42 -- DSC_0245 4893627106) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Eighty-three-year-old Ralph Deckett stood outside the Curt Gowdy State Park visitor center, broom in hand. Now retired from the FBI, Deckett spends much of his time looking after museums and recreation sites like Curt Gowdy, where he had been volunteering since the beginning of July.

“We just try to keep it nice, the best we can around here. It’s amazing how people can trash out a place,” Deckett said.

Billy Hathorn; https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kindling_for_starting_a_campfire_IMG_2454.JPG

Visitors to the Jackson area left at least ten campfires burning over the weekend.

Two of the fires had been built illegally inside Teton National Park, and two were south of Jackson, according to Fire Prevention Officer Lesley Williams. She said the rest of the unattended campfires were discovered west of the park near Shadow Mountain where there aren’t many natural sources of water to douse the flames.  Williams recommended packing extra water on camping trips, and checking to make sure the fire is really extinguished.

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.

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