Melodie Edwards

Reporter

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

Melodie Edwards grew up in Walden, Colorado where her father worked in the oilfield and timber industries. She graduated with an MFA from the University of Michigan on Colby Fellowship. She is the recipient of the Doubleday Wyoming Arts Council Award for Women and is the author of Hikes Around Fort Collins published by Pruett Publishing.

Melodie Edwards and her husband own Night Heron Books and Coffeehouse. When she's not writing, she loves to putz in the garden and hike and ski in the mountains with her daughters.

Ways to Connect

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A federal judge ruled this week that a case can move forward against the State of Wyoming over two new laws that make collection of data across private property to access public lands illegal. Several environmental and media groups had sued over the laws. Western Watersheds executive director Travis Brunen says the judge didn’t buy the state’s argument that the laws just reinforce existing trespass rules.

Gayle Woodsum

Solutions to hunger and obesity are often best developed by local community groups. That’s the message a delegation of food security advocates from Wyoming took to a global meeting in South Africa last month.

The conference, called the Action Learning Action Research Congress, brought together advocates from all over the world to discuss how to create lasting social change. 

Brian Dierking

In response to a 15-year drought around much of the West, the U.S. Interior Department announced a new initiative called the Natural Resources Investment Center. The idea is to make it easier for the private sector to invest in water conservation projects like water transfers.

Water Resources Director Jimmy Hague with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership says such transfers allow water to be stored and moved to places where it’s needed most during dry spells.

Willow Belden

A new survey released last week by several journalism advocate groups is asking people to send in examples of how government agencies may have blocked their access to public officials or data. 

Michael Morisy is the founder of Muck Rock, a group working on the "Access Denied" Project. He says, in recent years, government agencies have started requiring that reporters submit their questions in writing or talk to a spokesperson, rather than directly to an official.

Environmental advocates are celebrating this week after Congress passed a bipartisan spending bill that at one point included several provisions blocking conservation efforts.

After much talk of letting it lapse, the 50-year-old Land and Water Conservation Fund was re-authorized to fund city parks and national park in-holdings. It also gave a 6% increase to federal land management agencies, a total of over $32 billion.

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Back in 1881, hundreds of Northern Arapaho children were taken from the Wind River Indian Reservation in central Wyoming to the Carlisle Boarding School in Pennsylvania to be assimilated into European culture, but many never returned. Now the tribe is applying to reclaim the remains of 41 of the students who died there.

Yufna Soldier Wolf is the director of the Northern Arapaho Tribal Historic Preservation Office. She says she doesn’t expect the process to be easy.

Bob Beck

Listen to the full show here.   

Wyo. Lawmakers Send Power Over Education To State

It took Congress eight years and countless hours of listening to angry teachers and parents, but No Child Left Behind is soon to be a thing of the past. Matt Laslo reports from Washington that Congress and the White House agreed to scrap the hated Bush-era law.

Wyoming County Commission Association

Imagine buying a house but, when you go to move in, the whole family bickers about who should get which bedroom, how to arrange the furniture, whether to landscape or not. And since no one can decide, you just...let the house sit empty.

National Digital Library of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service

Even as Yellowstone grizzly bear numbers drop, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it may announce their delisting from the Endangered Species List as early as January 1st.

In a letter to Western wildlife agencies, the agency agreed to allow the number of bears to decline from 714 down to 600 for hunting or livestock conflicts. Below that, they could only be killed if they were a danger to people. 

The Center for Biological Diversity attorney Andrea Santarsiere says it’s not time to let state’s take over grizzly management.

nature.org

Last week, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum to slow down the loss of wildlife habitat to human development. Governor Mead’s Natural Resources Policy Advisor, Jeremiah Reiman says the memo took Western states by surprise. 

“We do share frustration that it was developed without input from many of us.”

But he does hope the feds borrow from Wyoming’s approach to the greater sage grouse, which didn’t just seek to protect the bird, but its entire habitat.

Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge

The shadows of cottonwood trees grow long as the sun sets over Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Wyoming. A perfect time to spot wildlife on the Green River. Among the reeds, I see a white patch with a long neck. A trumpeter swan. Refuge project leader Tom Koerner passes me a pair of binoculars.

“That's probably a single bird and right in this wetland unit we just drove by there's three different pairs that nest in here,” Koerner says. 

Wyoming County Commissioners Association

There are 45 wilderness study areas scattered around the state on federal lands that are, in effect, stuck in limbo; only an act of Congress can make them true wilderness or release them for other uses.

But a new program called the Wyoming Public Land Initiative introduced Wednesday at the Select Federal Natural Resource Management Committee in Cheyenne would hand over the process of making that decision to county governments.

Wyoming County Commissioners Association Director Pete Obermueller says, the time has come to deal with those lands.

Greys River Wildlife Habitat Management Area

Chronic wasting disease spread through herds of elk and deer at a higher than usual this year. Normally, it’s found in less than five new hunting areas around the state but this year it turned up in seven new areas.

But Wyoming Game and Fish Deputy Chief of Wildlife Scott Edberg says only one of those new areas was not right next door to an area where the disease had been found in the past, and that was on the South Fork of the Shoshone River.

Green River Recreation Department

It’s been a decade and a half of drought for Western states, many of which depend on the Colorado River for water. That includes Wyoming where the main branch of the Colorado—the Green River—originates in the Wind River Range.

The Upper Colorado River Basin states have decided to try a water conservation program long used in the Lower Basin states that pays water users to let their excess water flow back into the river.

The city of Riverton hosted a community forum last week to help reduce racial tensions that have been building there. In July, a white city employee shot two Native American men at a detox center, killing one and seriously injuring the other. Some tribal leaders say it was a hate crime. And with a federal court decision pending on whether Riverton falls within reservation boundaries, tensions have been escalating.

Irina Zhorov

Wyoming farmers have now experienced a full farmer’s market season since the Food Freedom Act was passed, last legislative session. The Act allows Wyoming farmers to sell many goods they couldn’t in the past, such as raw milk, eggs, and fermented foods. Wyoming Farmer’s Market Association board member Bren Lieske says she was able to expand her business into making bread and fermented tea called kombucha and plans to sell raw goat’s milk in the future.

But, she says, with more business came more risk.

Wyoming Migration Initiative, Matt Kauffman

    

In the hills south of Rock Springs, it's blizzarding. But Wyoming Game and Fish biologist Patrick Burke says it's actually great weather for tracking mule deer.

“You know, with no winds like this, and fresh snow,” he says, “that's really good for helping locate animals.”

Burke and other scientists have braved this weather today in hopes of capturing deer with helicopters to put satellite radio collars on them. They've already collared 18, but they want to do 50. 

University of Wyoming Professor Kevin Monteith is one of the group.

With snow in the forecast, you’re probably not thinking much about mosquitoes. But the Laramie City Council is.

Laramie Beekeeper Helen Coates says last July, after the city sprayed organophosphates--a powerful common insecticide-- on the fields surrounding the city, she found hundreds of dead bees outside her hive. She says the chemical may be the cheapest approach, but it’s the worst for the environment.

“If you go spray, for example, a field of blooming yellow clover, you’re going to kill all the pollinators, probably some birds, it’s toxic to fish, etc.”

South Dakota Historical Society Press

  

One of the most controversial figures in the history of the American West is Ogalala chief Red Cloud. To some a brilliant warrior and politician, to others, to blame for the Ogalala’s loss of the Black Hills. Now, there’s a new biography called Red Cloud: Ogalala Legend.

Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards talked with research historian John McDermott about how the Ogalala ended up in Wyoming, and why giving up these lands meant the end of their way of life.

FMC Corporation

Scientists discussed new discoveries about big game migrations this week at a conference at the University of Wyoming. The forum—called “Sustaining Big Game Migrations in the West”-- brought together experts to discuss how to protect migration routes without hurting the state’s economy.

Wyoming Migration Initiative Director Matt Kauffman says such a forum is important right now because new science shows migrating animals are easily affected by development.

Photo By Yathin S Krishnappa, Wikipedia Commons

As mule deer populations decline, new research shows just how important migration routes are to the species’ survival. The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission met last week to discuss whether to make stricter recommendations to federal land managers about how to protect those migration routes.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department spokesman Renny McKay says, one of the commission’s goals is to better identify where animals stop to graze and rest—and perhaps offer stronger protection to those areas.

Wikimedia Commons

In recent years, the meat packing industry has been adopting more humane treatment of livestock. And that’s thanks-- in no small part-- to one woman: Temple Grandin. In her many book, she talks about applying her own experiences as a person with autism to how animals view the world. The U.S. Department of Agriculture even uses a checklist developed by Grandin to enforce better treatment.

Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest

One of the state’s most popular recreation areas is getting too much love with roads and camp sites in the Pole Mountain area cropping up everywhere. So the Medicine Bow National Forest is tackling a large-scale travel plan that would help decide what roads and camp sites should be kept, and which need to go.

Spokesman Aaron Voos says the agency relied in part on public comments to create their proposed plan.

Bureau of Land Management, Wikimedia Commons

With mule deer numbers plummeting all over the West, a new research project in Rock Springs is looking at why elk populations continue to thrive. 

In cooperation with the University of Wyoming and the Wyoming Game and Fish, the Muley Fanatic Foundation plans to put tracking collars on 35 elk and 50 mule deer to compare the diet, predators, disease and other factors of the two species. Muley Fanatic Co-Founder Joshua Coursey, says one reason the two species may be faring so differently is their diets.

County 10

A longtime Eastern Shoshone Business Council member and World War II veteran has died at the age of 102. 

Morning Starr Weed Sr. led a remarkable life.  He fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was even a prisoner of war.  

His grandson, Layha Spoonhunter, says Weed was an important tribal member who worked to protect water rights, hunting and fishing rights and to preserve the Shoshone religion and language.

For years, wild horse advocates have called for the prosecution of a Colorado rancher who bought more than 1700 wild horses in 2012 and sold them to slaughterhouses in Mexico. Last week, the U.S. Inspector General released a report confirming the allegations.

Wild horse advocate Ginger Kathrens with the Cloud Foundation says the Bureau of Land Management policy that let people buy 35 horses at a time made it easy for rancher Tom Davis to take advantage.

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