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

In Tuesday’s election, U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis won her fourth term in office, beating out Democrat Richard Grayson with almost 70 percent of the vote. She says Wyoming people were clear in their message that they prefer stronger state control.

"I’m looking forward to working with a Republican Senate to keep government at the federal level focused on what it was designed to do," she says. "Which is protect our borders and provide for the defense of this nation. And allow states to function in the areas of air, land, water, wildlife."

During an election season, people often doubt how much their votes count. But according to a new study by WalletHub.com, voters in Wyoming have more influence than any other voters in the country. Spokesperson Jill Gonzalez says that’s because Wyoming has the lowest population of any state and rural states with low populations still have the same number of senators as other more urban states.

The overall population of grizzly bears is now at around 1,000. That’s according to a biannual study from the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team that has adopted a new method for estimating grizzly populations. Wildlife biologist Frank Van Manen says the higher numbers came as a surprise even to him.

“So far, relatively low conflicts, relatively low mortality, good reproduction.  We already had kind of a peak year last year. So we did not anticipate a lot of females with cubs this year. But we were pleasantly surprised.”

Wyoming Has A Shortage Of Women In The Legislature

For years women’s groups in the state have expressed concern about the lack of women in the Wyoming legislature. But it has rarely been this bad. Currently the state ranks 46th with women making up 14 percent. In 2006 the Wyoming women’s legislative caucus was formed to not only support the 14 women serving in the state legislature, but to also recruit female candidates to run for office. It hasn’t gone well.

Tim Hulsen, Flickr Creative Commons

Let’s go back--way back--to 1868. The Northern Arapaho tribe has survived not only the Sand Creek Massacre but decades of war with the US Army. They’re an exhausted people. In the middle of winter, the US Army decides to move them across Shoshone territory to Oklahoma.

“Well, you know Wyoming winters,” says John Washakie, great grandson of Chief Washakie and longtime Shoshone Councilman. He’s also a tribal storyteller. “They’re very cold. The horses were not in the best of shape. Some of the children and women were ill.”

Kim Via Flickr

The Wyoming League of Women Voters is now providing survey results that will help voters decide about whether to retain judges when they go to the polls next Tuesday.

The problem in the past has been that judges who are up for retention aren’t allowed to campaign like other elected officials.

Melodie Edwards

Last week, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell was in Pinedale, taking part in a ceremony to sign up Wyoming ranchers to help protect sage grouse. These conservation agreements are called Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances or CCAA’s. They’re supposed to protect the birds on private lands, but as Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards reports, some wildlife advocates question whether the program really has the teeth to make a difference.

The 4th annual Local Fest is moving from Pinedale to Lander this year. The festival is a celebration of Wyoming foods. It starts today with a free film festival at the Lander Public Library and runs through this weekend. 

Steve Doyle is a Riverton farmer who helped organize the event. He says this year’s event will be longer and more intensive than in the past. He says there are lots of success stories around the state.

Joe Skorupski

In an effort to build-up kokanee salmon populations in the state, Wyoming Game and Fish has begun collecting eggs in Flaming Gorge Reservoir.

Kokanee were first introduced into the gorge in the 1980s. Fisheries biologist Joe Skorupski says they were intended as food for trophy lake trout, but they're also good as food for people.

“Kokanee are a pretty desirable species for anglers,” he says. “They’re fun to catch and they taste really good.”

At this time of year, the land-locked, fresh water salmon are in the late stages of their run and at their most fertile. 

The U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, praised sage grouse conservation efforts in Wyoming during a tour of a ranch outside of Pinedale on Wednesday. The Bousman Ranch is one of nine in Wyoming that have agreed to work with the Fish and Wildlife Service on sage grouse conservation. During the tour Secretary Jewell learned about the ranch’s new strategies for protecting the grouse, such as converting windmill water tanks to solar to eliminate perches for the grouse’s predators like hawks and ravens.

Dawn Ballou

Thanks to the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People, Native American tribes now have more legal tools than ever before. That’s according to a speaker at a conference on Monday hosted by the University of Wyoming American Indian Studies Program.

Melodie Edwards

There are currently over 4,000 abandoned uranium mines in remote corners of the US. Out of sight, but for people living nearby, not out of mind. Uranium produces radon, which is known to cause lung cancer. In 2012, uranium was found in the tap water on the Wind River Indian Reservation. Many say the time has come to clean up the mess. But that could cost billions. The Obama Administration is tackling the job by pushing for new fees on mining companies, but the industry says they’re too punishing. Now, new research could make uranium clean-up significantly cheaper.

The city of Jackson will host a sustainable food festival this week--which the city claims is the first of its kind worldwide. FoodSHIFT director Annie Fenn says the festival will showcase regional ranchers and farmers. Area chefs and foodies will offer advice on topics including finding the best sustainable seafood and making your own vinegars. Fenn says the festival will spend one day just on the subject of local meats.

Roger Wollstadt

The Powder River Basin Resource Council's Bill Bensel says without a USDA meat plant in Wyoming local meats can’t get to state schools and stores. However, the Wyoming Department of Agriculture's Derek Grant says that’s not true.

“Our producers can take their livestock to those meat plants and then sell the products in the state of Wyoming to restaurants and school and individuals.”

Bensel says the problem is that there are too few slaughtering plants—only 12 state wide—to make it economically feasible for ranchers to process in-state.

Photo Credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/15778088@N00/6144251104/">manyfires</a> via <a href="http://compfight.com">Compfight</a> <a href="https://www.flickr.com/help/general/#147">cc</a>

A new report by the Western Values Project shows that sagebrush lands create millions in recreation income for the state. The report looked at eleven Western states with large amounts of sage brush. 

Senior Economist Kristin Lee with ECONorthWest-- the firm that calculated the data--says Wyoming brought in the fourth highest revenues after Idaho, Montana and Nevada.

“What we found for Wyoming is that there were almost two million visitors to the sagebrush lands in 2013.  And those visitors spent approximately 87 million within 50 miles of those recreation sites.”

A conservation group hopes to raise $2 million in three months to buy a critical piece of property along Wyoming’s mule deer migration route. At 150 miles, it’s believed to be the longest mule deer migration route in the world. Luke Lynch is with the Conservation Fund, the group raising money to buy the 364 acres, which creates a kind of migration-bridge for the deer to cross between Fremont Lake and the city of Pinedale. As many as 5,000 deer must cross the bottleneck single file there. Lynch says such routes need to be preserved because they’re so rare.

State Scrambles To Fix Wolf Plan

This week a federal judge placed Wyoming’s wolves back on the endangered species list after ruling that the state’s management plan did not offer adequate protection for the wolves. The plan that the state and federal government negotiated would keep the number of wolves that are outside of National Parks to over 100 wolves and 10 breeding pairs. But the Judge ruled that Wyoming’s plan was not binding.

Melodie Edwards

It's not just in big cities that people are buying up kale and bison jerky. Rural Wyomingites are trolling farmer's markets for purple tomatoes and emu oil, too. The state now has 49 farmer’s markets that have done over two million dollars in revenue just this year. But some farmers and food advocates who want to expand the availability of artisan foods say Wyoming is struggling with some deep challenges. 

In his pumpkin patch, eleven-year-old Michael Shaw pokes around under broad, drooping leaves. He’s not sure of any of the names because he lost his seed map.

Melodie Edwards

Is a bamboo fly rod “art?” A new exhibit in Cheyenne proposes that it is. The Wyoming State Museum has assembled over 70 crafts, all related to hunting and fishing like engraved rifles, pack saddles and taxidermy that highlights Wyoming’s long history of outdoor life. But many of the artists were skeptical about having their work displayed as art since most of them build their work only to use in the field. Laramie bamboo rod builder, Jerry Johnson, who has a fly rod in the show.

“You just take it, put a knife, put whatever you’re going to split with…”

Earlier this month, the Northern Arapaho Tribe decided to dissolve the Joint Business Council. It had been the major governing body for the two tribes on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming since the early 1930’s.

Northern Arapaho Business Council Member Dean Goggles says the Joint Business Council was imposed upon the tribes by the federal government to make it easier for them to get consensus from both tribes. But instead, Goggles says, the Council was stripping the tribes of their autonomy, making it harder to work together.

Bob Beck

Wyoming Lawmakers Battle The Feds Over Water

There's a water war going on in the nation's capital that has Wyoming lawmakers and land owners worried the federal government is soon going to be regulating most every drop of water that falls from the sky.

37-Year Lawsuit Settles Issue Of Tribal Water Rights

Melodie Edwards

Earlier this month in a Worland courthouse, a judge signed a final decree that brought to end what’s probably the longest-running lawsuit in Wyoming history. After 37 years, the lawsuit decided who exactly owns the water rights in and around the Wind River Indian Reservation. Those involved in the suit are now looking to the future.

Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas spoke at a symposium on immigration at the University of Wyoming on September 14, 2014. Jose Vargas outed himself as an illegal immigrant in a New York Times article three years ago. He came to the U-S from the Philippines when he was 12 but never obtained citizenship. Last July, Vargas was arrested at a Texas airport when he admitted he was not a legal citizen of the U.S.

Dan Brecht

Wyoming farmer’s markets aren’t just good for community spirit--they’re also making the state money. That’s according to a new survey by the Wyoming Business Council. 

Agribusiness Manager Cindy Garretson-Weibel says the number of farmers markets has been increasing for several years with 49 now in Wyoming. Weibel says some of them are held twice a week, adding up to significant income.

Jordan Giese

Students at the University of Wyoming have put up a mock-up of the Berlin Wall on campus to mark the 25th anniversary of its fall. The wall will be ceremoniously torn down on Thursday.

Associate political science professor Stephanie Anderson has been working closely with the German Embassy on the project.

Wikimedia Commons

Possibly the longest running lawsuit in Wyoming history came to an end last Friday in Worland. Judge Robert Skar signed a final decree that brought closure to a controversial water rights case. The case examined some 20,000 possible water rights claims in and around the Wind River Indian Reservation over the course of 37 years. Water law professor Jason Robison was at the historic signing.

Saying that it wants more Tribal Sovereignty, the Northern Arapaho tribe is leaving the Joint Tribal Business Council it had shared with the Eastern Shoshone Tribe. 

Calling it a historic move The Northern Arapaho tribe has dissolved the Joint Business Council, but in a prepared statement, the Eastern Shoshone tribe says they won’t go along with the plan. The main reason is that the decision was never approved by their business council.

Melodie Edwards

Last week, Sheridan County commissioners approved an amendment to planning and zoning rules that will give local farmers an edge on more direct sales to their customers. It will now be easier for them to put up farm stands and greenhouses on their property, as well as sell jams, salsas and other products made from their produce. Such activities either weren't allowed or required special permits in the past. Director Bill Benzel with Powder River Resource Council worked on the amendment.

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