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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News
5:45 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

Near-record number of parties this year

Wyoming will have six political parties on the ballot this year, which is more than in any election since the 1930s.

State Election Director Peggy Nighswonger says minor parties often try to get on the ballot in presidential election years, but they often fail to get the required number of signatures from registered voters. She says this year, they’re more organized.

News
6:57 pm
Tue May 1, 2012

BLM seeks public comment on proposed uranium mine

 

The BLM has drafted an Environmental Impact Statement on a proposed uranium mine near Rawlins. The project would stretch over more than 4,000 acres of land and would use in-situ technology, where they inject fluid into the ground to extract the uranium and then bring it to the surface to process.

Dennis Carpenter, the BLM’s Rawlins Field Manager, says the project doesn’t raise many concerns.

“It’s a pretty small project by most of our standards,” Carpenter said, adding that the area has been mined in the past.

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Politics
6:21 pm
Mon April 30, 2012

Cheyenne Representative leads the charge for reforming state pensions

The Wyoming legislature took on a number of conservative issues

Wyoming lawmakers are considering further reforms to the state’s pension system. This year, the legislature lowered pension benefits for new employees  and changed the way cost-of-living adjustments are made.

But Cheyenne Representative Bryan Pedersen  says he is convinced that even with the changes, Wyoming won’t have e

“This will at best float us three to five years. It’s a band-aid that will kick the can further down the road. And that’s with the plan fully performing at the eight percent estimated average annual return.”

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Open Spaces
4:32 pm
Fri April 27, 2012

April 27th, 2012

Bob Beck

 

Douglas residents react to Chesapeake Energy gas leak
This week, there was an explosion at an oil rig near Douglas. Natural gas spewed from the well, and about 50 people were evacuated from their homes. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden visited Douglas shortly after the accident and put together this montage of residents’ reactions.

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Open Spaces
4:14 pm
Fri April 27, 2012

Douglas residents react to Chesapeake Energy gas leak

This week, there was an explosion at an oil rig near Douglas. Natural gas spewed from the well, and about 50 people were evacuated from their homes. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden visited Douglas shortly after the accident and put together this montage of residents’ reactions.

News
4:14 pm
Fri April 27, 2012

Group seeks to raise awareness of genocide by creating symbolic mass grave

A group called One Million Bones is hosting genocide awareness events across the country Saturday, including in Cheyenne.

Amanda King, a UW student who’s helping out with the program, says people will gather and create a symbolic mass grave, with fake bones, to represent victims of genocide.

“As the symbolic grave is laid in front of us, we’ll discuss contemporary cases of genocide, and we’ll educate the participants who are there on conflicts that are currently happening today,” King said.

Open Spaces
4:02 pm
Fri April 27, 2012

Ag research exhibit opens at Territorial Prison

This harness was used during the time that the Wyoming Territorial Prison grounds served as a University of Wyoming agricultural research facility in the early 1900s.
Willow Belden

The historic Territorial Prison in Laramie is opening a new exhibit this weekend, which focuses on the era after the facility served as a prison – when the University of Wyoming used it for agriculture research. Willow Belden spoke with Deborah Amend, the superintendent of the prison, before the opening to hear about the history of the site, and the important studies that were done there while it was used for ag. She says the prison was built 140 years ago, as a federal territorial prison … but things changed in 1809, when Wyoming became a state.

Open Spaces
3:58 pm
Fri April 27, 2012

Job prospects brighten for college grads

Seniors at the University of Wyoming will be graduating next week, and while the job market is still tight around the country, prospects for finding employment have improved significantly this year. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden Reports.

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Open Spaces
7:12 pm
Fri April 20, 2012

April 20th, 2012

 

Increase in coal exports on the horizon
There are more new ports designed for coal export being proposed in the U.S. and Wyoming’s Powder River Basin coal producers are training their eye on the developments. With some of the most efficient economies of scale in the world, a larger percentage of PRB coal could be making its way across the ocean soon. What would that mean for Wyoming and the global community? Irina Zhorov reports. 

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Open Spaces
6:55 pm
Fri April 20, 2012

Game and Fish closes sage grouse hunting in northeast Wyoming

The Game and Fish Department plans to ban sage grouse hunting in most of northeast Wyoming. Parts of eastern Wyoming are already off limits, and now, sage grouse hunting will be prohibited in Sheridan, Johnson, Campbell and Weston counties as well. I spoke with Tom Christiansen, the sage grouse coordinator for Game and Fish. He says the agency is making the change in large part because of public concern over dwindling sage grouse populations. But he also says stopping hunting won’t solve the problem, because hunting doesn’t actually affect sage grouse populations that much.

Open Spaces
6:51 pm
Fri April 20, 2012

A look at sexual assault in Wyoming

April is sexual assault awareness month, and Becca Fisher from SAFE Project, a group that provides services to victims, joins us to talk about the problem. She says nearly half of Wyoming women are sexually assaulted at some point in their lives. The incidents can range from unwanted touching to all-out rape, and Fisher says common scenarios are a little different than you might expect.

Open Spaces
6:35 pm
Fri April 20, 2012

UW students design and build mock lunar rovers

Willow Belden

A team of UW engineering students recently traveled to Alabama to compete in NASA’s annual moon buggy race. The race is for high school and college students who have designed and built non-motorized vehicles that resemble lunar rovers. Teams from all over the world participated, on a race course meant to resemble the surface of the moon. The winning moon buggies aren’t actually going to space, but as Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports, the project is a major learning experience for the students.

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News
6:07 pm
Fri April 20, 2012

Many Wyoming rape victims know their attacker

April is sexual assault awareness month and Becca Fisher of the Albany County SAFE Project, which assists victims, says many people have misperceptions about rape.

“A lot of us are taught to believe that it’s going to be a stranger jumping out from the bushes, or someone on a dark street when we’re alone walking at night. And that’s not typically how it happens.”

Fisher says in about 90 percent of sexual assault cases, the victim and the perpetrator know each other, sometimes very well.

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News
5:45 pm
Fri April 20, 2012

Game and fish to end Sage Grouse hunting in northeast Wyoming

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is planning to make most of northeast Wyoming off limits to sage grouse hunting. Tom Christiansen, the agency’s sage grouse coordinator, says that’s because of public concern about declining populations in the area.

“We do hear concerns about, ‘Well, why are you continuing to hunt when sage grouse populations, especially in some parts of the state, like northeast Wyoming, are declining and are proposed for listing?” Christiansen said.

News
2:15 pm
Thu April 19, 2012

UW masters student creates energy, by bicycle

A recent UW masters student named Mark Pedri is producing a documentary aimed at evaluating which types of energy production are best, in terms of cost, environmental impact and other factors.

Pedri visited energy-producing facilities across Wyoming, including coal-fired power plants, wind farms, oil rigs and solar installations, and interviewed workers and managers. He traveled by bicycle, to make the project more exciting for himself and for his audience.

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Design contest
5:36 pm
Fri April 13, 2012

UW students to race moonbuggies

Four UW students are heading to Alabama this weekend for the annual NASA moonbuggy race. They’ll be racing a contraption they designed and built, which is meant to resemble a lunar rover. The racecourse mimics the moon, with craters and other obstacles. Team member Davis Fay says UW’s moonbuggies in past years have had some spectacular crashes, so his team’s goal this year is to finish the course upright – at least for the first round of racing. “You get two runs, and our strategy for the first one is just … finish the course and don’t break anything,” Fay said.

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News
10:18 am
Mon April 9, 2012

More elk in national refuge get GPS collars

Photo courtesy Lori Iverson

The National Elk Refuge has put GPS collars on additional elk in the past few weeks.

Lori Iverson with the Refuge says that sofar, 88 elk have been collared, so that researchers can track the animals’ movement and habitat usethroughout the region.

“That information can design hunting seasons to meet objectives,” Iverson said. “In this corner of northwestern Wyoming, it can monitor the effects of wolves on elk density, and just evaluate the effects of elk density on potential disease transmission as well.”

News
9:38 am
Thu April 5, 2012

BLM proposes horse sanctuary near Laramie

The Bureau of Land Management is proposing to keep hundreds of wild horses at a private ranch near Laramie. The BLM removes hundreds of horses from public lands each year to prevent the range from getting over-crowded, and they usually send the horses to long-term pastures in the mid-west.

Dennis Carpenter is the BLM’s Field Manager in Rawlins. He says keeping the horses here should be slightly cheaper, because the ranch will be open to tourists – for a fee.

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News
9:25 am
Tue April 3, 2012

Wyoming gets a D on charter school laws

Wyoming received a “D” letter-grade for its laws pertaining to charter schools. That’s according to a new report by the Center for Educational Reform.

Charter schools are publicly funded but privately-run and often have a specific focus, like science or the arts.

The study ranked states based on how they regulate and fund charter schools, and Wyoming came out as number 35.

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News
9:06 am
Mon April 2, 2012

UW to build supercomputer on campus

The University of Wyoming is getting access to a portion of the supercomputer that the National Center for Atmospheric Research is building in Cheyenne, but it’s also building it’s own smaller supercomputer on campus.

Bryan Shader is the special assistant to the vice president of research and economic development at UW. He says the campus supercomputer will be faster and more powerful than the computing systems the university has now.

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Poverty
5:27 pm
Thu March 29, 2012

Climb Wyoming honored nationally for helping women escape poverty

Climb Wyoming has received recognition as one of the country’s top ten programs helping to move people out of poverty. The honor came from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Administration for Children and Families, among other agencies.

The nonprofit Climb Wyoming helps struggling single mothers find work by providing job training, parenting advice and professional counseling.

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News
8:45 am
Thu March 29, 2012

Dry weather to continue, but temps could drop

Wyoming has experienced record high temperatures this month – in some cases more than 20 degrees above average. The National Weather Service says that’s because winter storms coming in from the west have been following slightly different tracks than usual.

“The lows that have developed have either gone way to our south or have gone to our north,” said Chuck Baker, a lead forecaster in Riverton.

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Open Spaces
1:39 pm
Mon March 26, 2012

UW student seeks to revolutionize crop growing

Nate Storey tends a tower of lettuce in his greenhouse in Laramie
Willow Belden

A doctoral student at the University of Wyoming has developed a new method for producing and selling vegetables. The student’s name is Nate Storey, and he’s designed a growing system in one of the university’s greenhouses that requires no fertilizer, produces virtually no waste and yields four times as much produce as traditional greenhouse setups. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.

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Open Spaces
1:29 pm
Mon March 26, 2012

Study warns Powder River Basin sage grouse could die out

A new report by researchers at the University of Montana warns that unless energy development slows down, sage grouse populations in the Powder River Basin could die out. The study, which was commissioned by the BLM, was meant to determine whether the sage grouse population there can survive, given current oil and gas drilling activities, and what would happen to the birds if more drilling occurred or if there were new West Nile Virus outbreaks. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden spoke with Dave Naugle, who co-authored the report. He says the sage grouse population in the Powder River Basin has already declined by 82 percent as a result of energy development.

News
6:13 pm
Thu March 22, 2012

More drilling could eradicate Powder River Basin sage grouse, report finds

A new report commissioned by the BLM warns that unless energy development in the Powder River Basin slows down, sage grouse populations there could die out.

Dave Naugle of the University of Montana co-authored the report. He says the sage grouse population in the Powder River Basin has already declined by 82 percent as a result of oil and gas drilling, and he says a disease outbreak similar to recent West Nile Virus occurrences could mean that fewer than 100 males would be left. That, Naugle says, “would functionally mean that that population could go extinct. ”

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News
8:01 am
Thu March 22, 2012

Conservation group seeks to mitigate storm-water runoff problems

Several of Wyoming’s streams are considered “impaired” by the EPA because rain and snowmelt have washed sediments and pollutants into the water. Now, the Teton Conservation District is hoping to educate people about what they can do to mitigate the problem.

The group’s natural resources specialist, Rachel Daluge, says materials from construction sites– as well as sand from roads– often ends up in waterways, which can harm fish and aquatic plants.

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News
7:58 am
Thu March 22, 2012

Public art project slated for Casper

A new public art project will be coming to Casper this summer. It will resemble a giant sun dial and will incorporate depictions of Wyoming’s landscape and history.

The piece will be situated outside of an affordable housing complex, across the street from the Nicolaysen Art Museum.

Curator Lisa Hatchadoorian says she hopes this work will become a gathering place for residents from all over town.

“It adds so much to the community experience to have different types of art out there … interacting with weather and nature and life,” Hatchedoorian said.

Open Spaces
4:42 pm
Fri March 9, 2012

Wyoming anticipates arrival of supercomputer in Cheyenne

The NCAR supercomputing center is located on the western outskirts of Cheyenne
Willow Belden

Listen to the story

The National Center for Atmospheric Research is building a supercomputing center in Cheyenne, which will house one of the most powerful computers in the world. Scientists are looking forward to the machine’s arrival … and many in Wyoming say its presence here will put the state on the map. The facility where the computer will be located is finished … and the machine itself is set to arrive in May. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden toured the building … and filed this report.

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