Melodie Edwards

Reporter

Phone: 307-766-2405
Email: medward9@uwyo.edu   

Melodie Edwards graduated with an MFA from the University of Michigan on Colby Fellowship where she received two Hopwood Awards in fiction and nonfiction. Glimmer Train published “Si-Si-Gwa-D” in 2002 where it was one of the winners of their New Writers fiction contest. She has published stories in South Dakota Quarterly, North Dakota Review, Michigan Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, Crazyhorse and others.  She is the recipient of the Doubleday Wyoming Arts Council Award for Women.   “The Bird Lady” aired on NPR's Selected Shorts and Prairie Schooner nominated the story for a Pushcart Prize.  She has a story upcoming in an anthology of animal stories, published by Ashland Creek Press. She is the author of "Hikes Around Fort Collins," now in its third printing.  She  is circulating Outlawry, a novel about archeology theft in the 1930's with publishing houses. She is currently working on a young adult trilogy about a secret society of crows and ravens.

Melodie Edwards lives in Laramie, Wyoming with her husband and twin daughters. She and her husband own Night Heron Books and Coffeehouse.  When she's not working or writing, she's love to putz in the garden, play guitar, hike and make pilgrimages to hot springs.

Ways To Connect

A proposal to list the wolverine as an endangered species was formally withdrawn by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wednesday. A coalition of wildlife advocacy groups says it's planning to sue the government over the decision. Drew Kerr with Wild Earth Guardians, one of the groups, says the wildlife service’s decision to withdraw the proposal shows they are caving to political pressures.

“Their own biologists and a panel of experts convened to review the matter were unanimous in concluding that climate change is a significant threat warranting listing.”

Last week, the state filed a motion to intervene in support of the Wyoming Game and Fish in a lawsuit over five elk feeding grounds in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Attorney Andrea Santarsiere with Western Watersheds Project, the plaintiff in the case, says concentrated numbers of elk at feeding grounds cause severe damage to land and water quality.  

But feeding grounds have long been used to keep elk and cattle from mingling, thereby stopping the spread of diseases that the two species are capable of exchanging. But Santarsiere says there’s an easier way—fences.

wypols.com

Washington Gridlock Hurting Educators In Wyoming

This summer there's been a big push by the nation's powerful teacher unions to completely revamp the nation's standardized tests mandated under No Child Left Behind and then revamped with the new Common Core standards. Wyoming Public Radio’s congressional reporter, Matt Laslo, has the story on how the state’s congressional delegation is fighting for the state’s interests on the issue.

Over the years it's been a challenge to drum up political engagement on the Wind River Reservation. But things may be different this year with eight tribal members running for office in multiple parties. It's an unusually high number. Democratic Representative Patrick Goggles says it’s his theory that what has inspired so much political gusto is the shifting dynamic in the Republican Party. He says the politicizing of the right wing is happening everywhere, including Wind River.

A woman struck by lightning in the Vedauwoo Recreation Area near Laramie Tuesday afternoon is currently being hospitalized for injuries. Fire Chief Dan Johnson says the woman was climbing higher on the rocks than her six companions when a fast-moving storm descended. He says after the strike she was able to climb down on her own.

“She was able to come off the rocks to meet our ambulance crew down at the ground level so there was no type of a rock rescue or any kind of a rope rescue that needed to be done.”

Wikimedia Commons

Wyoming's top 131 most vulnerable species are identified in a new study put together by the Nature Conservancy, Wyoming Game and Fish and the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database. Senior Zoologist Doug Keinath with the Diversity Database says the goal of the study was not to place blame, but instead to give the state a heads up before certain species require emergency rescue measures, the way the greater sage grouse has. 

He says the state should keep an especially close eye on amphibians.

The city of Casper will become the national headquarters for a rare total solar eclipse in the summer of 2017. The event is expected to temporarily double the city’s population. That’s because Casper will be in the middle of the path of the moon’s shadow, which will enter the US in Oregon, cut a swath across the width of the country, exiting in South Carolina.

A bacteria found naturally in the soil around uranium deposits may become a powerful tool in cleaning up old mine sites. A group of University of Wyoming scientists are collaborating with Cameco, a uranium mining company in Converse County. They’re experimenting with the bacteria’s ability to convert soluble uranium that can contaminate groundwater into less harmful solid form.

With winds and low precipitation causing fire danger to escalate in rangelands around the state, the Bureau of Land Management is keeping a close eye on sage grouse habitat. Senior Resource Advisor Pam Murdock says they’re working hard to control the fires.

"I know that there are a few going on currently," she says. "We have one, I was just informed of yesterday, that did get ignited over the weekend that was in sage grouse core area up in the Bighorn Basin."

She says it isn't easy juggling conflicting priorities. 

The face of Wyoming is changing, slowly but steadily, according to Wyoming’s Principal Economist Wenlin Liu, who says the state will continue to see ethnic diversity as people move here to work. There has been a 17-percent increase in all ethnic groups between 2010 and 2013. Meanwhile, white population growth was only a little over one percent.

Liu says minority populations are also keeping the median age lower than the national average by as much as a year.

Cynthia Lummis

The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations has approved a budget for the Interior and Environment for 2015, and Wyoming Representative Cynthia Lummis says, if passed into law, the bill would have a huge impact on Western states like Wyoming. 

Governor Mead Seeks Second Term

Governor Matt Mead is seeking his second term in office. The governor is facing Cheyenne Businessman and Doctor Taylor Haynes and Superintendent Cindy Hill in the Republican primary. Mead spoke with Bob Beck. They begin by discussing some of the challenges facing the state.

Melodie Edwards

Too many jobs, not enough bodies. That’s the dilemma of many Wyoming construction companies these days that can’t keep up with the building demands of the state’s energy boom. An influx of Latino workers are moving to Wyoming to take up the slack. And national figures show that Hispanics lead the nation in fatal injuries. And with Wyoming having one of the worst records for workplace fatalities, the question is: are Latinos putting themselves in the line of fire? 

A group in Cheyenne hopes to reverse a city ordinance that bans backyard chickens in the city limits. The group calls itself CLUCK, which stands for Cheyenne Local Urban Chicken Keepers. They have scheduled meetings with Cheyenne city council to write a new ordinance to allow as many as four hens to be kept.  Laramie County horticulturalist Catherine Wissner is working with the group. She says the fresh eggs and garden compost that chickens provide is great.  But they also make wonderful pets.

Fishthefly.com

Thanks to a bill passed in the last budget session, it may soon be legal to use artificial light and out-of-state live bait when fishing in Wyoming.  Dave Zafft with Wyoming Game and Fish says its long been against the rules to use lights to draw fish to the lure.  Now it could be allowed for nearly all kinds of fishing.

Federal Highway Money Remains At Risk

The federal pot of money that’s supposed to keep local roads and bridges intact may soon be empty, yet lawmakers on Capitol Hill are miles apart from each other. It remains unclear if they’ll be able to bridge the gulf. Matt Laslo reports from Washington on how the Wyoming delegation is weighing in on the debate that’s sucking the air out of Washington this summer.

commons.wikimedia.org

The clock is ticking about whether to list the greater sage grouse as an endangered species.  Such a listing could all but shut down mineral development in the bird’s habitat.  The state has already tackled sage grouse protections.  Now it’s the federal government’s turn.  It’s been 30 years since the Lander Resource Management Plan was revised.  And so the Bureau of Land Management took the opportunity to put more protections in place for the grouse while they were at it. 

The Lander Resource Management Plan is hundreds of pages and covers a lot of ground. 

The International Climbers' Festival starts Wednesday, July 9 in Lander. Director Mandy Pohja says this is the 21st year for the rock climbing event and this year’s line-up is particularly strong.

"We have probably the most significant number of professional climbing athletes coming to Lander than any other year.  And also more than any other festival in the world.  So that is a really neat collection of professional climbers from the last 40 years of rock climbing that will be in Lander this coming weekend."

Stereogab / Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0

A cool, wet spring has Wyoming’s growing season off to a sluggish start.  Ken Hamilton with the Wyoming Farm Bureau says some crops—like corn and sugar beets—were planted as much as three weeks later than usual.  He says hay production has also been hurt by all the precipitation.

Robert Verzo via Flickr

If a proposed plan is adopted, employers in the state could face some significant changes to how worker’s compensation sets its premiums.  Right now, Wyoming only factors in how severe a company’s claims are.   This new system—called a split plan-- would hold companies accountable for both severity and frequency, as is the case in most states. 

June 27th, 2014

Jun 27, 2014

Wyoming Coal Versus The Courts

This week’s Supreme Court ruling on the EPA and its ability to regulate carbon is a mixed bag for Wyoming officials and energy producers. It sets the stakes even higher for Republicans in the state who are determined to derail a pending EPA rule on climate change.

Wyoming Does Not Officially Track Health Impacts From Energy

Melodie Edwards

In 1986, a large mammoth rib bone was found jutting out of the bank of a creek a few miles from Douglas.  The state archaeologist, Dr. George Frison, did a hasty 4-day excavation at the time.  But a thorough excavation has never been done because the land owners weren’t interested in hosting an archaeology dig on their property.  That left archaeologists with a big question--was LaPrele Creek a mammoth kill site?  But recently the land sold and archaeologists have finally been allowed to dig. 

The federal government is trying to create a better system for pricing oil and gas on Indian reservations. The Office of Natural Resource Revenue brought together government, tribes and the energy industry to write the new rule. 

Claire Ware is the Director of the Shoshone-Arapahoe Tribes Minerals Compliance Program and sat on the committee.  She says the old rules put tribes at a disadvantage.   

A wild horse sanctuary has been proposed on a 900-acre ranch outside Lander with hopes of providing a haven for as many as 250 horses.  Bureau of Land Management spokesman Sarah Beckwith says the agency would pay the sanctuary, just as it does private landowners in the mid-West who adopt horses. The perk is that sanctuaries provide an opportunity for education.

Wikimedia Commons

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.”

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.

biorootenergy.com

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.

Wyoming's Wind River Country

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.  

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