Willow Belden

Reporter

Phone: 307-766-5086
Email: wbelden@uwyo.edu 

Willow Belden joined Wyoming Public Radio after earning her masters degree at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Prior to grad school, Willow spent a year in the Middle East on a Fulbright grant, conducting research in a Palestinian refugee camp, and writing for the Jordan Times and JO Magazine. Upon returning to the U.S., she became a reporter and editor at the Queens Chronicle in New York City and received the Rookie Reporter of the Year award from the New York Press Association. This spring, she received the Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship from Columbia University. When she’s not working on stories, Willow spends her time bicycling, hiking, kayaking and traveling. She can occasionally be spotted on a unicycle. And she has a habit of swimming in the ocean with the Polar Bear Club on New Years Day.

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Open Spaces
3:38 pm
Fri June 22, 2012

New efforts focus on restoring sage grouse habitat, to prevent endangered species listing

This well site near the Powder River was reclaimed eight years ago, but BLM officials say more needs to be done to make the area hospitable to sage grouse.

Sage grouse have been dying out in Wyoming and across the west for years, and the bird is being considered for endangered species listing. As a result, Wyoming has made a major push to preserve prime sage grouse habitat. But recently, scientists have been warning that conservation may not be enough. Studies have recommended that in addition to protecting habitat that’s still intact, the state needs to restore areas that have been disturbed. So now, a variety of agencies are working to come up with a plan for large-scale restoration. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.

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Open Spaces
3:34 pm
Fri June 22, 2012

Research indicates sage grouse dislike human-made noise

Jessica Blickley is one of the authors of a new report about the effects of noise on sage grouse.

As we’ve just heard, there’s a lot of concern over declining sage grouse numbers. And a lot of effort is going into keeping the birds from being included on the endangered species list. Part of that effort involves studying which aspects of human activity are most problematic. A new study published in the journal Conservation Biology examines how human-made noise – particularly the noise associated with gas development – affects sage grouse. We’re joined now by Jessica Blickley, one of the authors of the report.

Open Spaces
3:28 pm
Fri June 22, 2012

Laramie’s Mark Jenkins discusses his recent Everest trip

Laramie resident Mark Jenkins recently returned to Wyoming after climbing Mount Everest. Jenkins is a travel writer for Outside Magazine and a contributor to National Geographic … and he joins us now to discuss his experience. He says Everest expeditions are long -- typically two months or even longer.

News
5:49 pm
Thu June 21, 2012

Jackson area fire danger raised to high

Fire managers in the Jackson area have raised the fire danger rating to “high” for Teton County, the Bridger-Teton National Forest and Grand Teton National Park.

National Park spokesperson Jackie Skaggs says the rating is based on a combination of high temperatures, high winds, low humidity and low moisture content in plants. She says campers need to be exceptionally careful with cigarettes, camp stoves and camp fires.

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News
6:41 pm
Wed June 20, 2012

WYDOT prepares for cuts to airport and highway funding

The Wyoming Department of Transportation would lose money for airports, under the governor’s proposed eight-percent budget cuts.

WYDOT Budget Officer Kevin Hibbard says they would have to cut funding for airport improvements and airline service.

“There would probably be a reduction in some commercial air service in local Wyoming communities,” Hibbard said. “And also I think that a backlog of projects would take place for the airport improvements.”

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News
5:24 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

Advocacy group urges state not to cut funding for developmental disabilities

A group called Protection and Advocacy, which advocates for people with disabilities, has sent a letter to Wyoming, expressing concern over potential budget cuts for developmental disabilities.

Gov. Matt Mead has called for all agencies to prepare for 8 percent budget cuts. The Department of Health has not yet specified what it would cut, but Protection and Advocacy CEO Jeanne Thobro says she’s concerned that Wyomingites with developmental disabilities could lose vital services.

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Open Spaces
5:41 pm
Fri June 15, 2012

June 15th, 2012

Wildfire
5:15 pm
Tue June 12, 2012

Guernsey State Park blaze is 80% under-control

Associated Press

Crews have made big progress in fighting a wildfire at Guernsey State Park in southeast Wyoming.  Saturday at Guernsey State Park. Residents who evacuated from Hartville and Guernsey are now allowed to return to their homes. Guernsey State Park remains closed to visitors, though park officials will be escorting interested parties to their cabins or private property. Community members interested in hearing more about the fire operations are invited to attend a meeting at 7 p.m. tonight at Guernsey Sunrise School.

News
6:24 pm
Fri June 8, 2012

Fire crews prep for windy weather

Crews battling the wildfire near Wheatland are bracing for high winds tomorrow/Saturday.

Fire information officer Beth Hermanson says yesterday’s storms dumped rain on parts of the fire, but that didn’t help much overall. And she says the weather forecast for tomorrow doesn’t look promising.

“The National Weather Service has told us that we will more than likely see high winds on our fire – possibly up to seventy miles an hour,” Hermanson said. “So fire fighters today are strengthening the lines in preparation for that event.”

Open Spaces
12:48 pm
Sat June 2, 2012

A conversation with Wyoming’s new occupational epidemiologist

Wyoming’s new occupational epidemiologist is Mack Sewell. He’s tasked with helping the state improve workplace safety. That’s been a topic of discussion for some time, since Wyoming has one of the highest rates of workplace deaths in the nation.  Sewell is currently the state epidemiologist in New Mexico, and he says there, he’s worked extensively on issues such as infectious diseases and drunk driving. He tells Willow Belden that he’s not sure yet what will be first on his agenda here in Wyoming.

Open Spaces
12:41 pm
Sat June 2, 2012

Wyoming tests new method for counting deer, hopes to restore herds

Mule deer have been dying off in parts of Wyoming for some time. But until recently, it was unclear how acute the problem was. That’s because the Game and Fish Department wasn’t getting an accurate count of how many deer there were. Now, the agency is trying out a new method for estimating deer populations. It’s much more expensive … but officials say it’s worth the cost because it will help them maintain a healthy deer population. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.

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Open Spaces
12:37 pm
Sat June 2, 2012

Game and Fish launches partnership to restore mule deer habitat in Platte Valley

It’s tough to say exactly how fast the mule deer population in the Platte Valley is declining. But we know it IS declining – and whatever the rate, it’s substantial. One of the reasons the animals are dying off is that their habitat is deteriorating. So now, the Game and Fish Department is trying to come up with a plan for restoring it.  Tom Ryder, assistant chief of the wildlife division at Game and Fish speaks with Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden.

News
6:18 pm
Thu May 31, 2012

New epidemiologist sees seatbelt enforcement as potential means to curbing workplace fatalities

Wyoming’s new state epidemiologist, Mack Sewell, says he plans to look at seatbelt enforcement as a means to improve workplace safety.

In 2010, the state had the second highest rate of workplace deaths in the nation.  In fact, Wyoming traditionally ranks near the top in this category. Sewell will be specifically asked to study workplace injuries and deaths, and then work with lawmakers to try to address the problem. 

He says there’s a lot he still needs to learn about Wyoming’s situation, but he says seatbelts are an easy place to start.

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News
5:29 pm
Thu May 24, 2012

Department says new Ag rules are about safety

The Wyoming Department of Agriculture is proposing new rules for certain produce, eggs and milk.

Linda Stratton of  consumer health services in the department says the biggest change involves leafy greens.

“In an establishment where they are cutting and chopping leafy cut greens, they will have to keep those under refrigeration. They can’t sit out for more than four hours and that type of thing.”

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News
9:06 am
Tue May 22, 2012

Two Wyoming rivers listed as 'most endangered'

The environmental group American Rivers has included two Wyoming waterways in its list of the top 10 endangered rivers in the U.S. The group chooses rivers that it believes would be significantly harmed by proposed development or other activities.

The two waterways in the state are the Green River in southeastern Wyoming and the Hoback River near Jackson.

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Open Spaces
4:28 pm
Fri May 18, 2012

May 18th, 2012

This well pad near Pinedale is outfitted with a variety of green features meant to capture ozone-causing emissions.
Willow Belden
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Open Spaces
4:17 pm
Fri May 18, 2012

Wyoming strives to curb ozone levels to meet federal mandate

This well pad near Pinedale is outfitted with a variety of green features meant to capture ozone-causing emissions.
Willow Belden

Sublette County is home to two of Wyoming’s major oil and gas fields … and emissions from the energy production have caused smog to form – a type of smog called ozone. Ground-level ozone can cause and exacerbate respiratory problems. It’s also a problem for legal reasons: ozone levels in Sublette County have exceeded federal limits several times in the past few years. Now, the Environmental Protection Agency is stepping in. It’s designating Sublette County a “nonattainment area,” which means Wyoming is obligated to fix the problem.

Open Spaces
4:10 pm
Fri May 18, 2012

Wyoming Development Authority nudges first-time buyers into real estate

The Wyoming Community Development Authority is encouraging people to buy houses – especially if they’ve never owned a home before. They’re launching a campaign called “Buy Now” – putting up flyers in real estate offices, and offering classes to help first-time buyers navigate the process of purchasing a home. The group’s executive director, David Haney, talks with Willow Belden about the initiative. He says conditions are excellent for buyers at the moment.

Open Spaces
4:06 pm
Fri May 18, 2012

NRCS predicts tough, dry summer for farmers and ranchers

Lee Hackleman is a water supply specialist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. He speaks with Willow Belden about what the warm, dry spring means for Wyoming. He says the snowpack has gotten extremely low, which will make for a tough year.

News
8:41 am
Fri May 18, 2012

Dry weather could lead to hay shortage

The Natural Resources Conservation Service is warning that the warm, dry weather this spring could drive up winter hay prices.

Wyoming’s snowpack is less than 30 percent of average, and Water Supply Specialist Lee Hackleman says farmers who get their water by diverting streams and rivers will be left high and dry.

“There’ll be a lot of people who will probably get their first cutting irrigated but won’t have any water for their second cutting,”
Hackleman said. “So there’s liable to be a hay shortage again this winter.”

Economy
5:13 pm
Wed May 16, 2012

Conditions perfect for buying houses, community development authority says

 

The Wyoming Community Development Authority is encouraging people to buy houses – especially if they’ve never owned a home before. Executive Director David Haney says conditions are favorable for buyers at the moment.

 

“Interest rates are as low as they have ever been,” Haney said. “Prices have pretty much stabilized throughout most of Wyoming. And so the combination of both those things makes for a really terrific time to buy.”

 

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News
6:47 pm
Tue May 15, 2012

More than half of federal oil and gas leases idle

More than half of the public lands in the continental U.S. that have been leased to oil and gas companies are not actually being drilled, according to a report by the Department of the Interior.

Bruce Hinchey of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming says that’s because there are so many hoops that oil and gas companies have to jump through. He says it often takes over a year to get a permit to drill. And Environmental Impact Statements, which are required for large-scale energy development, take even longer.

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News
6:22 pm
Fri May 11, 2012

Laramie author publishes novel set in rural Wyoming

Laramie-based author Alyson Hagy just published a new novel called “Boleto.” It takes place in rural Wyoming and tells the story of a young man who seeks to make a name for himself by training a beautiful young horse. But Hagy says you don’t have to be a horse lover to appreciate the book.

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Open Spaces
4:33 pm
Fri May 11, 2012

May 11th, 2012

Election year politics are derailing efforts to improve Wyoming’s economy.
President Obama is chiding Congress for not acting on his slimmed down plan to spur economic growth in Wyoming and elsewhere. Matt Laslo reports from Washington that election year politicking is expected to derail this latest effort to get the economy moving.

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Open Spaces
4:18 pm
Fri May 11, 2012

Wyoming museum uses 3D technology to create fossil, dinosaur replicas

This image of a Nothosaur skull was created through 3D scanning.
Courtesy of Steven Cowley

We tend to think about scanning and printing as something that you do with pieces of paper – two dimensional objects. But now, a geological museum in Wyoming is scanning and printing things in 3D. They’re using 3D scanners and printers to make plastic replicas of dinosaur bones and other fossils, which can help with research and make collections accessible to scientists and museum goers around the world. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden went to Casper and filed this report.

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Open Spaces
3:56 pm
Fri May 11, 2012

Ozone spikes put Sublette County on federal list of air quality violators

 It’s official: The Environmental Protection Agency says Sublette County and parts of neighboring counties are violating federal air quality standards because ozone levels have gone above the legal limit multiple times in the past few years. It’s widely recognized that the problem stems from emissions in the oil and gas industry. When you get the right combination of two types of emissions -- NOX and VOCs  -- coupled with certain wintertime weather conditions, ground-level ozone forms. Ground-level ozone is the main component of smog and can cause respiratory problems.

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Open Spaces
3:48 pm
Fri May 11, 2012

Author Alyson Hagy discusses her novel “Boleto”

Laramie-based author Alyson Hagy has a new novel that just came out called “Boleto.” She joins us to talk with us about the book, which tells a story of a young man from rural Wyoming named Will Testerman.

News
5:16 pm
Fri May 4, 2012

EPA Announces Plans For Air Quality Nonattainment Status In Sublette County

The Environmental Protection Agency has sent a letter to governor Matt Mead, saying it will be formally listing Sublette County as an area in violation of federal air quality standards.

Over the past several years, emissions from oil and gas development near Pinedale have caused ground-level ozone to form. On some days, the pollution has rivaled that of major cities and has caused respiratory problems for area residents.

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News
5:13 pm
Fri May 4, 2012

Environmental Groups Sue Federal Government Over Coal Leases

The Sierra Club and Wild Earth Guardians are suing the federal government over planned coal leases in the Powder River Basin.

The BLM has approved the sale of four new coal leases in the area, which could produce up to two billion tons of coal. The Sierra Club’s Connie Wilbert says her group worries about the greenhouse gas emissions that could result from the additional mining and subsequent use of the coal.

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