Willow Belden


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.


Sage Grouse Plan
5:55 pm
Wed December 28, 2011

Wyoming exempt from federal sage grouse plan

Associated Press

Wyoming is exempt from new Bureau of Land Management policies regarding sage grouse.

The policies require local BLM offices to ensure that new oil and gas leases come with measures that prevent loss of sage grouse habitat. BLM officials will have to assess how sage grouse would be affected by proposed roads and power lines in sage grouse territory.

The BLM’s National Technical Team had recommended even more stringent sage grouse conservation measures, such as flat-out banning new oil and gas leases in core sage grouse areas.

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6:39 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Wyoming Hopes To Battle Pneumonia In Bighorn Sheep

M. Noonan

Wyoming is hoping to start vaccinating bighorn sheep for pneumonia within the next few years.

A working group dedicated to curbing the spread of sheep diseases met last week in Casper, and participants said inoculation research is yielding promising results.

Doug McWhirter, a wildlife biologist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, is a member of the working group. He says bighorn sheep are doing well in many parts of Wyoming but that diseases are still a big threat.

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Open Spaces
9:58 am
Mon December 19, 2011

Wyoming parents create an App to ease road trips with the kids

Listen to the story

This week, a new iPhone app came out which lets you search for child-related amenities when you’re on the road. Jen Sieve-Hicks of Buffalo is one of the app’s creators. She says the app gives parents a lot more information than they would get from a Google search.

Open Spaces
9:30 am
Mon December 19, 2011

Reality TV show aims to draw young people to hunting

Kyle Thomas, 14, and his mom, Mary Billier, pose with an elk Kyle killed at Wagonhound Ranch near Douglas. A TV crew recorded his experience for an upcoming reality show called “Call of the Wild” intended to entice young people to take up hunting.

Listen to the story

HOST INTRO: Each year, fewer and fewer Americans go hunting. That trend worries the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, because they get the bulk of their funding from hunters. So they’re beefing up their efforts to recruit new hunters. The latest plan is to recruit kids through a reality TV show. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.

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6:28 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Christmas Bird Count Begins

Wyoming's State Bird: The Western Meadow Lark

The Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count starts this weekend in Wyoming.

The counters are volunteers who go out in various locations across the state and document the number and types of birds they see.

Longtime participant Jane Dorn says the count started in response to the popular tradition of Christmas bird hunting.

“The purpose of the bird count originally was to give people something else to do other than go out and hunt birds on Christmas day,” Dorn said.

Since then, the count has become an important tool for tracking bird population trends.

5:58 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

Buffalo residents create iPhone app for parents on the road

A couple from Buffalo has created a new iPhone app meant to help parents find kid-friendly amenities.

Jen Sieve-Hicks is one of the app’s creators. She says the program, which is called KIDzOUT, lets parents search for specific things when they’re on the road. For example, you can search for restaurants with kids menus or gas stations with family restrooms.

“This is an app that actually has on-the-ground value for parents, so that when those interruptions occur in your travel day, it’s not as difficult as it could be,” Sieve-Hicks said.

Filthy Power
4:24 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Wyoming is home to one one of the country's "filthiest" power plants

Basin Electric Laramie River station
Basin Electric Power Cooperative

Wyoming is home to one of the nation’s dirtiest power plants, according to a new study by the Environmental Integrity Project.

The report examined emissions reports from power plants around the country and found that Basin Electric’s Laramie River station is one of the top 10 emitters of arsenic, chromium, nickel and selenium. Those are all toxic heavy metals.

Ilan Levin, associate director of the Environmental Integrity Project, says exposure to those chemicals can be harmful.

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5:07 pm
Thu December 1, 2011

Methodist Church to apologize for Sand Creek Massacre

This week marks the 147th anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre, in which nearly 200 members of the Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes were murdered.

The soldiers who carried out the atrocity were led by a Methodist minister. This spring, the Methodist Church plans to formally apologize.

The apology is part of a string of “Acts of Repentance,” in which the church is acknowledging wrongdoing to indigenous peoples around the world.

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National Parks
5:45 pm
Wed November 30, 2011

Advocates say more national parks would boost economy

Grand Teton National Park

More than 100 economists and academics have written a letter to President Obama, calling for more national parks as a way to help the economy.

Their research indicates that protected public lands help create jobs.

Ray Rasker, one of the people who signed the letter to Obama, heads up a nonpartisan research group called Headwater Economics. He studies how environmental quality affects economic prosperity, and he recently researched the Yellowstone area.

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6:13 pm
Tue November 29, 2011

Grand Teton elk harvest down

The number of elk harvested in Grand Teton National Park this year is down nearly 30 percent from this time last year.

Park spokesperson Jackie Skaggs says warm fall weather and plentiful vegetation led the animals to migrate later than usual.

“We had such a good year for growth of native vegetation that the elk have remained in their summer ranges,” Skaggs said.

More elk are coming to the park now, though, and hunters have one more week to pursue the animals as part of the annual elk reduction program.

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7:19 pm
Fri November 25, 2011

Mead: Brace for budget cuts

Governor Matt Mead is telling state agencies to prepare for budget cuts.  The governor claims that Wyoming’s future revenues are expected to flatten out or even decrease in the next few years. Mead says the budget he’s preparing for next two years takes that prediction into account.

“The fact is over the last decade our spending on the standard budget has more than doubled," the governor said. "Over that period of time, the state of Wyoming has done some tremendous things, but we can’t continue to double it every ten years.”

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11:06 am
Fri November 25, 2011

Forest Service Proposes New Planning Rule

TheU.S. Forest Service has proposed a new national planning rule, which would govern how individual forests around the country draw up land management plans.

Under the current rule, forests draw up new management plans every 15 years. With the new system, they would re-assess and tweak their plans on an ongoing basis.

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5:28 pm
Wed November 23, 2011

Shoshone goat ban disturbs goat pack owners

Forest officials have banned domestic goats from parts of Shoshone National Forest. Officials say they're concerned about goats spreading diseases to wild bighorn sheep. But some goat owners say the Forest Service is over-reacting.

Charles Jennings with the National Pack Goat Association uses goats to carry gear for fly fishing trips and other outings, and he says his animals are closely monitored.

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7:01 pm
Mon November 21, 2011

Avalanche Center urges caution, even with moderate slide risk

Parts of the Bridger-Teton National Forest got more than two feet of snow last week, which led to a considerable risk of avalanches.

The Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center has now reduced the risk to “moderate,” which means natural avalanches are unlikely but human-triggered avalanches are possible.

Lead forecaster Bob Comey says avalanches are often a result of people skiing, snowshoing or snowmobiling in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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6:44 pm
Mon November 21, 2011

Lummis seeks to enable federal purchase of Grand Teton land

Grand Teton National Park

A bill sponsored by Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis could help the federal government buy a parcel of land in Grand Teton National Park. Wyoming currently owns the land and could sell it for development if the federal government doesn’t buy it. But the federal government needs additional revenue to be able to afford the 107-million-dollar price tag.

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9:14 am
Thu November 17, 2011

An interview with Danish conductor Peter Ettrup Larsen

The UW Symphony Orchestra has a special guest: Danish conductor Peter Ettrup Larsen. He's directing a concert of Nordic music at the University of Wyoming this evening. Among the pieces the orchestra will be playing is a symphony by Danish composer Carl Nielsen, called "The Four Temperaments." Larsen says it has the power to speak to anyone -- even people who aren't usually interested in classical music.

9:10 am
Tue November 15, 2011

Lawmakers propose new state IT department

A legislative panel has proposed creating a state information technology department. Currently, the Department of Administration and Information oversees most IT matters. and some agencies also have their own technical departments. The new system is meant to streamline IT services by creating one big pool of employees who could move around between departments.

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5:45 pm
Fri November 11, 2011

Komen gives its view on new breast cancer screening plan

Wyoming has one of the lowest breast cancer screening rates in the nation.  Now, Susan G Komen for the Cure and G-E are trying launching a million-dollar initiative to change that.

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Natural Gas Vehicles
5:15 pm
Thu November 10, 2011

Mead pushes for natual gas vehicles

Gov. Matt Mead is teaming up with the governors of several other states encouraging U-S automakers to develop affordable natural gas vehicles.

The governors signed a memorandum of understanding this week, stating that they will replace vehicles in their state fleets with ones powered by natural gas.

Shawn Reese is Mead’s policy director.

“So what the governor is doing is trying to come up with those economies of scale – a critical mass of fleets that would entice the auto manufacturers in Detroit to manufacture more natural gas-powered vehicles.”

Child abuse
5:13 pm
Thu November 10, 2011

Child abuse is a common problem

Penn State University fired both its legendary football coach and its president because they allegedly had known that an assistant coach was molesting boys, but did nothing about it. The assistant coach is accused of sexually abusing eight boys.


Lynn Huylar, who heads a children’s advocacy center in Cheyenne, says this case might be high profile, but it’s not atypical. Abusers are usually people children trust – like coaches, family members, and child care providers.


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4:50 pm
Thu November 10, 2011

Bill would require companies to collect online sales tax

Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi introduced legislation that could bring billions of dollars into the federal treasury, but it isn’t a tax increase.

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8:46 am
Wed November 9, 2011

Company is still optimistic about Niobrara Oil Shale

Wells drilled in the Niobrara shale in southeastern Wyoming aren’t producing nearly as much oil as some had expected. But Anadarko Petroleum, one of the big oil companies exploring the shale, expressed nothing but optimism at a Business Expo in Cheyenne Tuesday.

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Wyoming Conservation Voters
5:14 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Conservationists say Wyoming legislators are voting for the environment

The environmental group Wyoming Conservation Voters released its legislative scorecard for 2011.

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Barrett dies
5:10 pm
Tue November 8, 2011

Judge James Barrett dies at 89

James Barrett, a federal appeals court judge and former Wyoming Attorney General, died today. He was 89. Barrett was an army veteran, earned his law degree at the University of Wyoming, and was appointed attorney general in 1967. Several years later, President Richard Nixon appointed him to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.   Gov. Matt Mead knew Barrett personally and described him as “a friend, who with common sense and compassion, set an example as a judge and a citizen. ”   A vigil will be held for Barrett at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Cheyenne at 8 p.m. on Friday.