Chelsea Biondolillo

Reporter

Chelsea Biondolillo is originally from Portland, Oregon and comes to Laramie by way of several southern cities, including New Orleans, Austin, and Phoenix. She is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Wyoming in creative nonfiction and environmental studies and her prose has appeared or is forthcoming in Creative Nonfiction, Phoebe, DIAGRAM, Birding, and others. Chelsea loves plants, birds, and rocks, and tries to spend as much time as she can around them.

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News
7:32 am
Mon August 19, 2013

Groups will ask for more time to comment on TransWest

The Bureau of Land Management hosted two meetings this week to collect public comments on the TransWest high-voltage wind power transmission line. That wasn’t enough for some, who say more opportunity for public input is needed.

The Wyoming Outdoor Council’s Richard Garrett says the federally mandated 90 day comment period is not sufficient. “We, together with a number of other conservation groups, are requesting a sixty-day extension to the comment period. We believe that there are a lot of things that need to be taken into account for this project to move forward,” he added.

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News
4:02 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

Wyoming ranch wins sustainability award

Credit Roger Wollstadt

A Wyoming ranch has won a Regional Environmental Stewardship Award from the National Cattleman’s Beef Association for the sixth time in the award’s 22 year history. They will now be considered for the national title.

The Padlock Ranch in Sheridan County was already recognized for their environmental sustainability practices earlier this year by a different award.  

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News
6:17 pm
Fri August 9, 2013

Teton Port-o-Potty Owl Project gains ground

Owls have been getting stuck inside portable toilets on public lands across the country… But, Grant Teton National Park has found an innovative way to protect them.

The first report of an owl stuck in a “Porta Potty” at Grand Teton National Park came from a land manager who was performing routine maintenance. He took a picture of the owl and sent it to Amy McCarthy, executive director of the Teton Raptor Center.

McCarthy says the photo and all of the anecdotal evidence gathered from across the country since then has been compelling.

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News
5:15 pm
Thu August 8, 2013

Luca Technologies files for bankruptcy

Luca Technologies, a Colorado-based biotechnology company focused on extracting natural gas from coal seams in Wyoming, has declared bankruptcy.

Luca began testing their “methane farming” method in the Powder River basin in 2006. Since then, they have faced regulatory and financial difficulties which have resulted in permitting delays, layoffs, and now, finally Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Methane farming generates natural gas by feeding nutrients to microbes in coal beds.

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News
5:22 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Fire danger high in Tetons

Credit U.S. Dept of Agriculture

Fire danger rose to a “high” rating this week for both Bridger-Teton National Forest and Grand Teton National Park, due to a combination of warm weather, low humidity and strong winds.

Traci Weaver, a spokeswoman for Bridger-Teton, says that dry vegetation and a higher-than-usual number of lightning strikes already posed a fire risk… But campers have abandoned more than 100 campfires this season, compounding the danger. Weaver urges campers to be responsible forest stewards.

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Open Spaces
4:45 pm
Fri August 2, 2013

August 2nd, 2013

Credit Rebecca Martinez

Reviving local saw mills could limit fire danger in the Rocky Mountain Region

Saw mills are re-opening in Wyoming and Colorado after a decade of being shuttered. They’re harvesting and processing trees that have been killed by beetle infestation.  Still, many are suitable for lumber.  Wyoming Public Radio’s Rebecca Martinez reports that this uptick in the timber business is helping with forest fire management.

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Open Spaces
4:06 pm
Fri August 2, 2013

Laramie’s multiplying rabbits: what’s to blame?

Credit Larry D. Moore

Laramie residents have been noticing more rabbits than usual in town this year. Some experts say it’s because there are fewer predators, but others aren’t so sure. Wyoming Public Radio’s Chelsea Biondolillo reports.

CHELSEA BIONDOLILLO: Melissa Gelwicks has had a backyard garden next to Undine Park for about 7 years. She grows everything from squashes and herbs to cabbages, beets and greens. She’s used to rabbits frequenting her garden, but this year there seem to be more of them.

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News
5:49 pm
Thu July 25, 2013

Wyoming Premium Farms employee found guilty of animal cruelty

A Humane Society investigation at a Wheatland pork farm has resulted in one conviction of animal cruelty and one acquittal this week.

An undercover investigator videotaped Wyoming Premium Farms employees hitting, kicking, and punching piglets and sows. Tape was presented in court. Tyson, one of the farm’s largest customers, dropped the supplier shortly after the footage was released.

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News
7:25 am
Thu July 25, 2013

Pavillion Working Group to meet in Aug.

The next Pavillion Working Group meeting has been scheduled for August, in Riverton. The working group includes state agency, landowner, tribal, and industry stakeholders.

The working group will be providing updates to the community on the status of their investigations into pit and well bore integrity, and as much as possible, domestic water wells.  

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Mural Project
5:54 pm
Wed July 24, 2013

Community donations fund Laramie Mural Project

The Laramie Mural Project has met its fund raising goal for the next year using the popular online crowd-sourcing website, Kickstarter.

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News
6:47 pm
Thu July 18, 2013

Laramie looks to grow public art

Credit Laramie Mural Project

The city of Laramie has just received a 25-thousand-dollar grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to help bring more public art to the area.

The grants are designed to improve the quality of life in communities by encouraging creative activities and beautification projects.

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News
1:04 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

"Scrappy Trees" published by UW extension

Credit Russell Harrison

Wyatt and Bridger Feuz and Hudson Hill didn’t plan to write about trees when they visited an abandoned arbor in Cheyenne, but that’s just what happened. The Horticultural field station hadn’t pruned any of its trees since the 1950s, and the educators were surprised to see many thriving. So they wrote “Scrappy Trees: Raw and Exposed.”

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News
5:31 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

Groundwater testing draft rules get support, feedback

Several groups submitted comments Thursday on the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s draft rule for groundwater testing in the state. The rule would require that energy companies test groundwater quality before and after oil and gas drilling.

Richard Garrett is a policy analyst with the Wyoming Outdoor Council, one of the groups that submitted comments. He says his group and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) made recommendations that they hope will close any potential loopholes in the law.

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News
11:29 am
Thu July 11, 2013

Cheyenne Police to help out for Jubilee Days

Credit Irina Zhorov

A new program will allow Laramie and Cheyenne police officers to help one another during the Jubilee and Frontier Days weekends this month.

The arrangement allows an employee of one city to work in another city as needed. The police departments have decided to pilot the program with a focus on preventing drunk driving during the two popular festivals, beginning this weekend.

Commander Mitchell Cushman of the Laramie Police Department says that while the Cheyenne officers will be actively patrolling for impaired drivers, they will be able to enforce all Laramie laws. 

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Flights to Jackson
5:21 pm
Tue July 2, 2013

More flights to Jackson Hole planned for winter

United plane at Jackson Hole Airport
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Jackson Hole Air Improvement Resources has announced expanded flight service into Jackson for the next winter season, including new direct flights to and from New York’s JFK airport and Seattle.

 Last winter, Jackson Hole saw increases in air travelers, skiers, and sales tax revenue, all of which helped Air Improvement Resources negotiate more flights with airlines.

 Mike Gierau, co-chair of Jackson Hole Air Improvement Resources (AIR), says the new and expanded service points will help the area recover from previous years’ lower tourism numbers.

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News
5:18 pm
Tue May 7, 2013

Wind River Job Corps pre-bid conference hopes to attract local contractors

On Wednesday, the Riverton City Council Chambers will host a pre-bid conference for the Wind River Job Corps project.  Project administrators want to work with as many local contractors as possible.

The completed Job Corps complex will bring much needed training opportunities to Fremont County, as well as create over 100 permanent jobs.

Sandy Barton is the executive director of Fremont County’s Board of Educational Services. She says this meeting will give local contractors the chance to ask project managers questions about what kind of opportunities will be available.

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News
5:45 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

May 7th is Teacher Appreciation Day

May 7th is Teacher Appreciation Day.

Kathy Vetter, President of the Wyoming Education Association, taught elementary through high school students in Wheatland during her 30 years in the classroom. She says that teachers’ responsibilities have changed as students’ own roles have changed. “When I started teaching,” says Vetter, “going to school was the student’s job. Now, that’s only one of many jobs students have, that they have to divide their time amongst—and so there’s more pressure on the teachers and the students.”

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News
5:00 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Regional conservation effort will benefit trumpter swans

Wildlife interest groups and agencies in Wyoming and Idaho are working to increase the populations of trumpeter swans in the region. Loss of habitat has limited numbers within the species. The Teton Regional Land Trust is working with the Wyoming Wetland Society, local offices of US Fish and Wildlife Services, and the Idaho Fish and Game departments to build a nesting colony in Teton valley.

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News
4:47 pm
Mon April 29, 2013

“Stupid Cancer” chapter to start in Wyoming

The Wyoming Comprehensive Cancer Control Consortium will be starting the first statewide “Stupid Cancer” chapter to support young adult cancer survivors. 

Jessica Perez, an outreach coordinator with the Wyoming Department of Health, says that “Stupid Cancer” events focus on having fun and networking with other survivors between ages 15-39.

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Meth
6:17 am
Mon April 22, 2013

Casper to host 10th annual Methamphetamine Conference

The tenth annual Methamphetamine and Substance Abuse Conference will be held in Casper at the end of April.

  Governor Matt Mead will be the special guest speaker. The conference brings stakeholders from across the state together with national speakers to discuss the impacts of methamphetamines on communities.

  Casper Crime Prevention Officer Jadee Kroeger, says the annual event can benefit a number of community services.

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News
12:24 pm
Tue April 16, 2013

Raffle to help former UW football player

Former University of Wyoming football player Weston Johnson is facing mounting medical expenses in his battle against cancer, and football fans across the state are doing what they can to help.

As a senior, Johnson was a captain of Wyoming's 2009 New Mexico Bowl Championship team, and in 2011 he served as a graduate assistant coach. Jared Petrino is events director for UW athletics. He says Johnson was a natural leader who was liked by team mates and admired by fans.

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News
6:51 pm
Mon April 8, 2013

Report finds cost of living up across Wyoming

The State’s Economics Division has released a Cost Living Index report for 2012 which shows an overall increase in Wyoming’s cost of living. The Index compares state economics to the National Consumer Price Index, which looks at costs over time in specific consumer goods categories, such as housing and food. For the fourth quarter, Wyoming saw a slightly higher increase than the National Average. Senior State Economist, Amy Bittner, says that counties in Central and Northwest Wyoming have seen the largest cost of living increases from 2011 to 2012.

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News
5:02 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

Wyoming Coal numbers remain low

The U-S Energy Information Administration says coal-fired electric power plants are generating more energy this year than last , but Wyoming coal production numbers are still below last year’s.

Wyoming Mining Association President Marion Loomis says that while interest in coal is up right now, the outlook for 2013 is still not good for Wyoming’s coal industry.

“We’re certainly not back to what we’ve seen in prior years, and our production is still down. It’s looking like it will still be a tough year.” 

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News
6:21 pm
Mon April 1, 2013

Researchers search for Wyoming's perfect grape

A University of Wyoming Department of Agriculture project in Sheridan hopes to share knowledge between current and future grape growers in the state about what works and what doesn’t at Wyoming vineyards.

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News
6:23 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

Laramie County shows diverse growth in latest census

Recent US Census numbers show that Wyoming’s energy industry has helped increase population.  But the same report shows that Laramie County’s economic diversity is creating sustainable growth.

Wyoming’s population from July 2011 to July 2012 grew by 1.6%.  While much of that growth is energy-related, Laramie County saw an increase of nearly 2,000 residents. 

Senior economist of the Wyoming Division of Economic Analysis, Wenlin Liu says while the energy based counties could see a drop in population, he predicts that Laramie County’s growth will remain.  

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News
8:08 am
Mon March 18, 2013

Newbold Dam in Grand Teton National Park to be demolished

Grand Teton National Park and Trout Unlimited are partnering to demolish a dam near Kelly, WY, which will restore access to the  Gros Ventre Watershed for spawning trout and non-game fish.

The Newbold Dam was once used for irrigation, but the park’s public affairs officer, Jackie Skaggs says the structure is now obsolete, and removing it will help the park.

“In the long run it saves us money in maintenance for a structure that is no longer needed, is no longer used, but greatly benefits fish and fish habitats,” said Skaggs.

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News
6:22 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Casper's new transportation plan seeks public input

The Casper Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) will be unveiling a new 25-year transportation plan for Casper and the surrounding communities, later this month. Plan organizers will be looking for public input from residents and businesses at several public meetings throughout the next year.

MPO planner, Sally Kerpchar, says the plan covers the new highway bill, plus much more. 

“The long range transportation plan looks at absolutely every mode of travel—anything that moves people or goods, it looks at,” said Kerpchar.

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Hill bill
3:53 pm
Fri March 1, 2013

Constitution Party sponsors referendum on “Hill bill”

Senate File 104 – better known as the Hill Bill - passed in the legislative session that just ended. But it might be challenged in the next election if organizers of a new referendum can get enough signatures to put it on the ballot.

The bill removed some powers from  State Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill.  It also created a State Education Director that will be appointed by the governor.  The Director will oversee the State Department of Education.  

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News
5:56 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Yellowstone National Park releases new winter use plan

Winter visitors to Yellowstone National Park may soon get to explore the park on self-guided snowmobile tours, according to the new proposed Winter Use Plan released today.

The plan includes guidelines for how many visitors can enter the park on snowmobiles and snow coaches, and also allows for visitors to tour the park without a professional guide, which is currently required.

However, Park Superintendent Dan Wenk says that participants of non-commercially guided tours will still have to meet minimum standards.

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News
9:55 am
Mon February 18, 2013

Lower Valley Energy receives notice of violation from DEQ

Lower Valley Energy, a utility company, and the Department of Environmental Quality have entered the settlement process over a non-compliant part at their natural gas compressor station in Sublette County. The DEQ discovered the infraction during a routine inspection last October, and issued a notice of violation this January. According to their permit, the station is supposed to be using an emissions control device but they’re using a boiler to route natural gas emissions. 

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