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

10th circuit Federal court judges have denied Andrew Yellowbear's request to become a “friend of the court” in a case about the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision that the city of Riverton falls inside reservation boundaries. Yellowbear was convicted by a state court in the 2004 murder of his infant daughter. He argues he should have been tried in a federal court since, according to the EPA, Riverton is part of the reservation.

An environmental watchdog group says the Environmental Protection Agency’s latest permits violate the Clean Water Act by allowing thousands of gallons of fracking fluids to be released onto Wind River Reservation lands. The group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility or PEER, say the permits were originally issued in the 1970’s to provide drinking water for livestock and wildlife in the arid West. Director Jeffrey Ruch says, since then, fracking fluid ingredients have become much more complex.

Melodie Edwards

Wyoming lawmakers may not have agreed on much this legislative session but there is one issue they did vote together on: de-regulating the state's locally produced foods. The new Food Freedom Act now allows consumers to buy processed produce, poultry, eggs and unpasteurized milk direct from the cook or farmer, something that was illegal just a few months ago. And it's that last item—raw milk—that's so controversial nationwide.

commons.wikimedia.org

After lengthy discussions, Jonah Energy has agreed to hold off on plans to drill some 3500 gas wells near Pinedale until an environmental impact statement is complete.

Governor Mead’s Sage Grouse Implementation Team could not reach a consensus on Tuesday on whether to include the area—known as the NPL or Normally Pressurized Lance—as protected habitat. Wyoming Game and Fish sage grouse coordinator Tom Christiansen says, the team didn't agree on whether or not to adopt the area into the grouse's core area habitat.

The Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest is looking at closing or limiting access to some 150 miles of forest roads on the west side of the Snowy Range near Saratoga. Every few years, the Forest Service is required to evaluate its roads to make sure they are safe and to budget their upkeep. Forest Service Spokesman Aaron Voos says some roads—like the Cedar Pass Road over Kennedy Peak—just aren’t salvageable.

Melodie Edwards

When you hear the word “boom” in the West, you usually think of the energy industry. But in the last 15 years, there’s been another kind: a timber boom. That’s thanks to the mountain pine beetle, a tiny ravenous bug that’s now chomped its way through over 40 million acres of forest in the U.S., moving north into Canada, expanding its reach as the climate warms.  To clean up all that dead wood, forest managers have turned to the timber industry, leading to a surge in jobs and enterprise. But now, the bugs have almost eaten themselves out of food.

The Western Governor’s Association has released a special report outlining numerous programs Wyoming and other western states have adopted to stop the rapid decline of the greater sage grouse. But Wildlife Biologist Erik Molvar with WildEarth Guardians says sage grouse numbers have been plummeting and it’s going to take more than local, voluntary efforts to turn things around.

“It’s going to require range-wide commitments to science-based protections that are mandatory.”

U.S. Forest Service

People have been saying for years that forests ravaged by the mountain pine beetle are more fire-prone than healthy ones. But a new study out this week says, think again. 

University of Colorado researcher Sarah Hart was the lead author on the study, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

“Our approach to answering this question was to overlay maps of infested forest that are from the U.S. Forest Service with maps of where fires have burned.”

The clock is ticking for Governor Mead and his sage grouse team. They have a September deadline to re-evaluate their so-called Core Area Strategy that would slow the bird’s declining population so the U.S. Fish and Wildlife doesn’t list it as an endangered species.

Getting doctors to move to Wyoming has long been a big problem, but maybe just borrowing them could be an alternative. A new interstate compact law could make it easier for more out-of-state doctors to practice in Wyoming by fast tracking their licensing process. The state continues to wrestle with a severe shortage of physicians that’s left many rural communities without adequate health care. Representative Sue Wilson of Cheyenne sponsored the bill and was excited to see Wyoming be the first to pass the law.

Wyo. Republicans Now Fighting To Preserve Obamacare Funding

One of the biggest Supreme Court cases of this term could wipe away the insurance subsidies that tens of thousands of Wyoming residents now rely on under so-called Obamacare. Matt Laslo has the story from Washington on how Wyoming Senator John Barrasso is now scrambling to find a Plan B for a law he's staked his name as a doctor opposing.  

Melodie Edwards

When it comes to the spread of disease from domestic sheep to bighorn sheep, it’s not that different from the arrival of Europeans in the Americas when small pox and other diseases killed millions of indigenous people. Without a built-in immunity, pneumonia can wipe out an entire bighorn sheep herd in no time. And that’s why, last week, the Wyoming legislature passed a pair of historic bills that will effectively keep the two species apart.

Timothy Haase

If it has felt like an especially warm winter, you’re not imagining things. This year has been the third warmest winter on record in Wyoming. That’s according to the National Weather Service in Riverton. Meteorologist Chris Jones says all these balmy temperatures have been caused by a persistent ridge of high pressure along the Pacific Coast. He says temperatures have been as much as six degrees higher than normal, especially on the Western side of the state. And there are no signs that they will return to average in the next month.

The Northern Arapaho tribe recently lost a lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service. The tribe sued the IRS because it classified the Northern Arapaho as a large employer, requiring them to pay for employee health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The tribe argued that a long-standing treaty requires the federal government to pay for Native American health care, and that the federally-run Indian Health Services isn’t doing good enough to fulfill that agreement.

Billings Gazette

Tuesday, the Wyoming house passed two bills that would lay out a strategy for keeping domestic sheep and bighorn sheep separated. Domestic sheep carry a bacteria that can spread pneumonia to bighorns, wiping out whole herds. But Wild Sheep Foundation Director Kevin Hurley has problems with the bills, especially Senate File 133, which sets aside funds to remove a herd of transplanted bighorns from the Wyoming Range    

Asher Jay

A wildlife advocacy group in Jackson wants to convince the public that the use of traps for hunting is inhumane, and they’re using art to convey their message.

The group, Wyoming Untrapped, has commissioned an internationally renowned environmental artist to show the value of free-roaming wild animals such as bob cats and coyotes that traditionally are some of trapper’s favorite targets.

Mark Jenkins

Adventurer Mark Jenkins of Laramie gets assignments all over the world for National Geographic, the magazine he writes for. He’s climbed Mount Everest, bicycled across Siberia, and even skied in Central Asia with the world’s oldest ski culture. Now, he’s one-upped himself.

To find out more about his expedition to the caves of Vietnam, I met with Jenkins in his gear room, a very orderly nook in the basement of his house, stacked with well-labeled bins full of outdoor equipment. It’s here that all of his adventures begin.

  

Some Call It A Disappointing Legislative Session

The Wyoming legislative session is coming up on its last week. It’s a session that’s seen the defeat of Medicaid Expansion and some other key issues. Because of that, critics say they really haven’t accomplished much, and some legislators agree.  

Jose Gonzalez-Latino Outdoors

 

This Thursday, the University of Wyoming Haub School will host a talk by Jose Gonzalez, founder of the national group, “Latinos Outdoors.” Gonzalez says Latinos have a growing passion for conservation issues like climate change and wilderness preservation. But he says, right now, there are still major obstacles to getting Latinos access to the great outdoors.

        

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Devastating pine beetle and wild fire epidemics have ravaged our national forests for years. But for the most part, everyone—environmentalists, the timber industry, government agencies—have been in agreement about how to manage such problems…as wild places, not as tree farms in which forests are a crop that’s been wiped out.

©UCAR. Photo by Carlye Calvin

In coming months, the NCAR supercomputer in Cheyenne will tackle five new projects that could improve weather and climate forecasting in Wyoming. The supercomputer, known as Yellowstone, has the capacity of nearly 73-thousand desktop computers, working together as one. That power will be used studying wind turbine performance and population growth in the Colorado River Basin, among other things. University of Wyoming professor Bart Geerts’ project is especially ambitious.

Casper College

Casper College found itself on lock-down again this week when students discovered a plastic tube with nails in the Union. Casper police evacuated the campus but later said it was a false alarm. The item turned out to be an art project. It’s the fourth false alarm to lead to a lock-down on the campus since a professor was shot with an arrow by his son in 2012. Police Captain Steve Freel says the high number of evacuations are part of a new protocol between police and campus security about how to handle such emergencies.

A Wyoming hunter now holds the world record for the largest elk killed with a crossbow. Albert Henderson took the elk in the Shoshone National Forest during last fall’s crossbow season.

The elk scored 408 points on the Boone and Crockett scoring system. Wyoming Game and Fish spokesman Al Langston says it takes an exceptional hunter to make such a clean kill with a crossbow since it means getting very close to make a shot.

A conference in Torrington on Wednesday will explore the economic benefits of organic farming in arid climates like Wyoming and Nebraska.

Speakers at the conference will offer advice on a wide range of subjects including how to get certified as an organic farm, composting and growing potatoes for organic starch. Event organizer and soil fertility specialist Jay Norton says the event is not meant to stir debate of the merits of organic versus conventional farming. 

February 6th, 2015

Feb 6, 2015
Jeremy Wilburn, Flickr Creative Commons

Climate Change In The Classroom: The Debate Continues In Wyoming

Nearly a year after Wyoming lawmakers blocked the State Board of Education from considering a set of science standards that include climate change, a bill to put the standards back on the table is up for debate. When the dust settles, it could mean a change in classroom conversations about climate.

Melodie Edwards

When people think of ravens, they often think Edgar Allen Poe:

 A wildlife advocacy group has released its annual report card on the welfare of prairie dogs in the West, and the State of Wyoming received a "D." WildEarth Guardians spokesperson Taylor Jones says for the first time, Wyoming participated in a survey of the state’s prairie dog population. And it designated a research site to investigate the plague, which has contributed to the species’ decline. But she says the state still has a long way to go.

While a Medicaid Expansion bill has its skeptics in the State Senate this week, a waiver to expand it for Native Americans is getting warmer reception.

The Joint Appropriations Committee has included a waiver in the state supplemental budget that would provide health care to some 3,500 low-income Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone on the Wind River Indian Reservation. Representative Lloyd Larsen from Lander says just last year about 40,000 health care visits went uncompensated. Larsen says Wyoming has a legal obligation to pay up.

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