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.

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More than a million acres of public land are at risk for development after a popular federal conservation program expired Wednesday when the U.S. Congress failed to reauthorize the 50-year-old Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Flickr Creative Commons

Several organizations have taken Wyoming to court over a law passed last year that made it a criminal offense to cross private property to collect data on public lands. One group that recently joined the lawsuit is the National Press Photographers Association.  The group's attorney, Alicia Calzada, says the new law violates the right to petition by criminalizing the act of collecting data to distribute to the public or to the government. She says that’s something journalists do regularly.

Albany County Public Library

Gardening in Wyoming’s cold, arid climate can be challenging, but using seeds that were raised and collected here could improve the results. So when Albany County Library’s Public Services Specialist Cassandra Hunter heard of a so-called ‘seed library’ in Montana, she decided to start one in Laramie. She says the area falls in one of the most difficult growing zones to garden in.

  

Melodie Edwards

  

You might have heard a strange sound this last Tuesday morning around 10 a.m. It was a sigh of relief from ranchers, oil and gas workers and miners all over the West at the announcement that the greater sage grouse won't be listed as an endangered species. But you probably also heard the slapping of foreheads from wildlife advocates who say the grouse needs full federal protections if it’s going to survive.

In Tuesday’s announcement that the greater sage grouse will not be listed as an endangered species, the state of Wyoming got a lot of the credit by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ashe who said the state's strategy for bringing the bird back from the brink showed long range vision.

“I have to point out singularly the leadership from the state of Wyoming in designing the Core Area Strategy back in 2008. Because it was Wyoming’s leadership that showed us what was possible for sage grouse conservation.”

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With the decision not to list sage grouse as an endangered species, a new federal report says the current approach is effectively isolating the birds from each other like animals in a zoo.

U.S. Geological Survey ecologist Steven Knick worked on the report, and he says many of the sage grouse protected areas are like small islands scattered around the 11 Western states of its range.

Melodie Edwards

It was standing room only in Casper Wednesday night at a public meeting addressing the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality's decision to downgrade 87,000 miles of the state's streams.

Christine Lictenfells is a longtime guide and outdoor educator. She says the DEQ's decision wasn't based on a clear understanding of how people use high mountain waters. She says  backpackers and horsepackers bathe there and expect clean waters. She had a suggestion for the DEQ.

Wyoming Game and Fish

The wolverine is one of the most elusive animals in the wild… not the easiest beast to get on camera. But Wyoming Game and Fish successfully photographed one in the Gros Ventre Range this year, the first documented there since the species was trapped out of the state in the last century. Game and Fish Supervisor Zack Walker says the photograph came as a surprise.

“We were able to get a photograph of a wolverine in the Gros Ventre, which has not been documented before. So that was pretty exciting. And then we had a number of wolverines seen in five other locations in Wyoming.”

City of Laramie

At a city council meeting tonight in Laramie, a nonprofit group will request a lease on 115 acres of city-owned land to grow food for the hungry. 

Albany County has some of the highest rates of food insecurity in the state, according to University of Wyoming Public Health Professor Christine Porter.

Office of the Governor

People in Wyoming are passionate about wildlife. Just say the word “wolf” in mixed company and see what happens. And it’s the state’s long history of negotiating with the federal government over endangered species like the sage grouse and the grizzly that has prompted Governor Matt Mead this month to announce an initiative to reform the 42-year-old Endangered Species Act. I asked him, what made him decide now was the time for this.

Wyoming Outdoor Council

Next Wednesday, September 16 in Casper, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality will host a public discussion of a decision to downgrade about 87,000 miles of streams in the state. The DEQ argues such waters are too shallow for swimming. Outdoor groups disagree, saying campers and hunters bathe and swim in them and that it could lead to more illness due to higher levels of the bacteria e. coli.

Courtesy of Ken Lund, Flickr Creative Commons

It’s no secret that late summer is a great time to visit Yellowstone National Park. And, that means lots of traffic. With many people celebrating the Labor Day holiday, park officials say safety is a big concern. Park spokesman Amy Bartlett says that’s why park rangers and local law enforcement are working together to post traffic safety checkpoints along the park’s hundreds of miles of backroads.

Western Watersheds Project Wyoming Director Jon Ratner has made quite a stir over the last few years, monitoring stream quality in areas where cattle graze, sometimes crossing private property to do so.

“What our work over the last decade has found is that virtually everywhere that livestock grazing is found, you will have violations of state water quality standards.”

He says, when he gave his data to the DEQ, he got push back. In fact, in the last legislative session, two new statutes shut down his data collection by prohibiting trespassing.

Last week, a judge in North Dakota ruled against an EPA decision that would have imposed stricter water quality regulations for streams and tributaries around the U.S. Wyoming and 12 other Western states sued the federal government over the rule, known as the Waters of the United States rule. Supporters say it would help states comply with the Clean Water Act by protecting wetlands and stopping industrial dumping. But a federal judge sided with those states, agreeing it would place too heavy a burden on the agriculture industry.

Ten years ago, a young Arapaho man was charged with killing an eagle without a permit for a Sun Dance ceremony. The Northern Arapaho tribe decided it was their duty to stand behind any tribal member legitimately practicing their tribal religion and a federal court agreed with them.

But now, the United States is appealing the decision.  

In a recent press release, Northern Arapaho Chairman Dean Goggles says quote “eagles are an important part of [the tribe’s] most sacred ceremonies” and says the decision to take an eagle is never undertaken lightly.

Melodie Edwards

By some estimates, sexual assault on U.S. Indian reservations is the worst in the world with one in three Native women assaulted during their lifetime. Unbelievably, it’s higher even than war-torn Serbia or the Republic of Congo. And the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming is no exception.

nps.gov

It might have been a wet spring, but a couple months without rain has put Yellowstone at high risk for fire. Park spokeswoman Amy Bartlett says about 50 acres of forest ignited this week in an area along the southern shore of Yellowstone Lake known as Promontory Peninsula. Bartlett says, although you can see the smoke, there are no trails or roads in the area, only a couple campgrounds usually accessed by boat.

Wendy Rumminger

Autumn is the time of year when lots of wildlife like bears, moose and bobcats tend to wander into the streets of Jackson. It often leads to conflicts with humans. That’s why a local coalition of government agencies and non-profits called Wild Neighborhoods has created a website.

The group’s spokesman Stacy Noland says they’re encouraging locals to share tips and stories about how to minimize conflicts with wildlife.

Blue Mountain Associates

Through a $2.5 million dollar grant, the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes will be able to study the health benefits of starting backyard gardens. The project is called Growing Resilience and is a collaboration between tribal health groups, the University of Wyoming and the nonprofit, Action Resources International.

Melodie Edwards

There’s a long tradition of what’s called plein aire art in the West. That’s when an artist paints right there in the great outdoors. But for 40 years, one Laramie artist has taken this technique to new heights…literally. You could almost call his work thin air painting. Joe Arnold has painted from the tops of some of the world’s most majestic mountains. Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards decided to scale a Wyoming mountain with Arnold to see it through his eyes.

Wyoming Public Media

  

Maybe you’ve heard, or at least heard of, the podcast Serial. Millions of people have downloaded the show, and Serial’s massive success has helped put podcasts on the media map. Because podcasts are so convenient for listeners—you can listen anytime, anywhere—public radio stations are increasingly getting into podcasting.

Wikimedia Commons

After a plummet in sage grouse numbers two years ago, a new report shows signs that the bird is starting to rebound a bit. The Western Alliance of Fish and Wildlife Agencies conducted the study with the help of Cheyenne-based consultants WEST.

It shows that sage grouse have been declining in numbers by almost a full percentage point every year since the study began in 1965. But the group’s Sage Grouse coordinator, San Stiver says, in the last two years, that decline has slowed.

Wyoming Outdoor Council

The phrase “mountain streams” usually comes with the word “pristine” in front of it. But here in Wyoming, some outdoor recreation groups are saying, not for long. That’s because last year, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality downgraded the status of about 87,000 miles of small creeks and drainages in the state’s highest country. For years, these streams have been considered primary recreation, which means they could be used for swimming and the DEQ would clean them up even if a small amount of e. coli, was found in them.

Kari Greer, National Interagency Fire Center

Gusty winds and a lack of rain over the past couple of weeks has caused fires to flare up around the state. Firefighters are now battling two fires in the Tongue River Canyon in Sheridan County. One has grown to over two square miles.

Elsewhere, a red flag warning was issued last night around Cheyenne and Laramie, and there are two small fires burning near Laramie Peak, not far from a campground. One fire has been mostly contained, but the other flared up close by. Aaron Voos with the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest says it was a convenient turn of events.

Wyoming Outdoor Council

Outdoor recreation groups are upset about a recent decision by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality to reduce the minimum quality standard of 87,000 miles of mountain streams in the state. The plan would allow five times more e. coli into the water before the DEQ requires it be cleaned up.

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