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.

Pages

Open Spaces
3:22 pm
Fri March 15, 2013

One college student shares her experience with an extreme case of domestic violence

When we talk about domestic violence, we usually focus on the perpetrators and the victims. But children in abusive families are also deeply affected. We’re joined now by Haylee Reay. She’s a sophomore at UW, and her father killed her mother.

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News
6:32 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

Advocates say massive gas project could harm wild horses

Wild horse advocates say a proposed natural gas project in south-central Wyoming could negatively affect herds in the area.

The Continental Divide-Creston project would drill 9,000 new wells near Wamsutter, and Suzanne Roy with the American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign says much of the land is home to wild horses.

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News
6:49 pm
Mon March 11, 2013

Game and Fish proposes cuts to close budget gap

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is proposing sweeping cuts to make up for an $8- to $10 million budget shortfall.

Game and Fish plans to reduce fish stocking by 20 percent, cancel its annual hunting and fishing expo, and cut educational programming for kids. Spokesman Eric Keszler says they’ll also reduce funding for research by about 50 percent, which he says would be a blow to wildlife managers.

“Research is a very important part of managing wildlife,” Keszler said. “Understanding how wildlife uses the habitat and things like that are very important.”

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Open Spaces
5:08 pm
Fri March 8, 2013

March 8th, 2013

UW Economist Anne Alexander discusses the potential effects of the federal sequester on Wyoming
One thing everyone is trying to get a grip on is how the federal sequester will impact Wyoming.  Anne Alexander is an economist at the University of Wyoming.  She joined Bob Beck in the studio to discuss this.

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Open Spaces
4:08 pm
Fri March 8, 2013

PBS documentary links railroad construction to the formation of Wyoming

A documentary about the construction of the transcontinental railroad is set to air on Wyoming PBS this weekend. The film will show how the building of the railroad shaped Wyoming into the place it is today. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden spoke with the film’s producer, Tom Manning. He says before the railroad was built, there was no Wyoming. The film, “End of Track,” premieres on PBS on March 10th at 7 p.m.

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News
6:33 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Torrington ethanol plant pays $49K in environmental fines

An ethanol plant in Torrington has agreed to pay $49,000 in fines for violations regarding hazardous chemicals.

David Cobb with the Environmental Protection Agency says Wyoming Ethanol did not tell the public it was using large quantities of ammonia, and did not have adequate risk management plans for handling flammable mixtures. Both are violations of federal law.

Cobb says the chemicals in question are dangerous.

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News
6:29 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

No charges filed in grizzly killing

The U.S. Attorney’s office has decided not to file criminal charges against hunters who killed a grizzly bear in Grand Teton National Park last year.

The hunters were participating in the annual elk reduction program when they shot the bear. But Park Spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs says investigators determined that they acted in self defense after the grizzly charged them. She says the hunters did the right thing after the bear died.

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PBS Trains
9:13 am
Mon March 4, 2013

Documentary traces railroad construction, and Wyoming’s origin

A new documentary shows how the construction of the transcontinental railroad helped shape Wyoming into the place it is today.

Producer Tom Manning says the railroad is the reason that towns like Cheyenne, Laramie and Rock Springs exist.

“Without the transcontinental railroad going across Wyoming, of course, there would be no Wyoming,” Manning said. “You know, it was really quite a vast emptiness out there.”

The film will premiere on Wyoming PBS on Sunday, March 10th at 7 p.m.

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News
1:09 pm
Fri March 1, 2013

Bob Beck reviews the Wyoming Legislative Session

The Wyoming legislative session ended this week.  Wyoming Public Radio News Director Bob Beck joined me to talk about it.

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News
8:12 am
Tue February 19, 2013

Cheyenne homeless program reduces recidivism, but not homelessness

The Cheyenne Police Department has wrapped up a program that was intended to help the homeless get access to shelter and other services, and keep them out of jail.

The Homeless Empowerment Action Team, or HEAT, consisted of police officers and Robin Zimmer, the director of the COMEA homeless shelter. They went around town, informed homeless people of laws about loitering and panhandling, and told them about available social services.

But most individuals declined shelter or other help. Zimmer says that’s because many were alcoholics, and the only shelter in town is dry.

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Open Spaces
5:45 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

February 15th, 2013

Increased coal exports overseas bring up questions of royalty payments
Coal producers in the U.S. are looking to markets abroad to make up for decreasing demand at home. But a recent investigation by Thomson Reuters news service suggests there might be royalty underpayments on those shipments. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports that royalty question is still unresolved.

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Arts
4:58 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Gov. Mead to present arts awards Friday

The Governor’s Arts Awards will be presented this Friday. The awards honor some of the state’s best artists, but Arts Council Manager Rita Basom says when picking winners, they look at more than just the quality of someone’s work.

“You’re also looking at what they have brought to the state of Wyoming,” Basom said. “Not just the fact that they do very high-quality work, but that they are bringing attention to the state, serving the state in various ways.”

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Found Footage
4:55 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Found Footage Festival showcases thrift store videos

The Found Footage Festival, which is a collection of film clips acquired by donation or found at thrift stores around the country, is coming to Wyoming this week.

Curator Nick Prueher says many of the films are old instructional videos, like how to train your ferret, or how to learn Japanese.

“They’re all really silly, and I guess the litmus test for us is whether they’re unintentionally funny,” Prueher said. “Whatever the video was trying to do, it has to fail at in some entertaining way.”

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Flame Resistant
4:58 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

OSHA implements new rules to protect rig workers

New rules from Wyoming’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, require workers to wear flame-resistant clothing near wellbore holes, and require emergency shut-down devices on diesel engines used on drill rigs.

OSHA’s John Ysebaert says flame-resistant clothing has made a big difference for worker’s safety during two recent incidents. One was a fire at the Sinclair Oil refinery.

“There were injuries, but it absolutely saved lives and … reduced those injuries,”Ysebaert said.

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Groundwater Testing
4:55 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Groundwater testing could become a pre-drilling requirement

Credit FuelFix

Governor Matt Mead is considering requiring companies to test for groundwater contamination before drilling for oil or gas.

The new requirement would be part of the Mead’s energy strategy for the state. The goal is to make it easier to determine whether contaminated water was the result of energy production.

Jill Morrison with the Powder River Basin Resource Council says the proposed requirement is long overdue.

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News
10:28 am
Fri January 18, 2013

Lawmakers seek to strip power from schools superintendent

The Wyoming legislature wraps up its second week today.  Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck is covering the session and joins us now to talk about lawmakers' attempts to restructure how the state's schools are governed.

health care
6:48 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Wyoming gets an ‘F’ for child dental care

Credit Associated Press

A new report by the Pew Center shows that Wyoming is not doing enough to keep children’s teeth from decaying.

The report gave Wyoming a failing grade. That’s because the state doesn’t administer tooth sealants in schools, and doesn’t submit information about children’s dental health to a national database, among other reasons.

But William Maas with the Pew Center says Wyoming’s situation isn’t as bleak as it sounds.

“The good news is that overall in the state, almost half of the children have received sealants,” Maas said.

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Open Spaces
4:51 pm
Fri January 11, 2013

January 11th, 2013

Rep. Lummis appointed to US House Subcommittee on Energy
Wyoming’s Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis has been appointed to chair the U.S. House of Representatives’ Science Subcommittee on Energy. The subcommittee will oversee energy research, development and demonstration projects. Lummis spoke with Rebecca Martinez from the Capitol press room in Cheyenne this week.

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Open Spaces
4:24 pm
Fri January 11, 2013

NRDC says Wyoming’s wolf management plan leaves too few wolves

Wyoming’s chief game warden, Brian Nesvik, tells Willow Belden the smoothness of this year’s wolf hunt shows that the state’s wolf management plan is sound. But Sylvia Fallon, the director of the wildlife conservation project for the Natural Resources Defense Council, disagrees. Her group is one of several environmental organizations that’s suing the U-S Fish and Wildlife Service over its decision to remove Wyoming wolves from the Endangered Species List. She says state quotas for how many wolves can be killed are too generous.

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News
11:19 pm
Mon December 17, 2012

Avalanche danger in western Wyoming

  The storm that’s bringing snow to western Wyoming is also increasing the risk of avalanches. The Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center says heavy snowfall and high winds mean that naturally occurring avalanches are likely at high elevations. The center’s Bob Comey says human activity could easily trigger avalanches at lower elevations, too. He says skiers and snowmobilers should bring avalanche safety equipment and take courses to learn how to recognize the dangers. “Avalanche terrain is somewhat fickle,” Comey said.

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News
6:07 am
Fri December 14, 2012

Audubon Society prepares for Christmas bird count

The Audubon Society’s annual Christmas bird counts are getting underway this weekend in towns across Wyoming. The bird counts are meant to keep track of population and migration trends.

Jacelyn Downey is a naturalist with Audubon Rockies  and she says drought in the Southern U.S. in recent years has forced birds further north than usual.

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News
10:26 am
Mon December 10, 2012

Researchers study effect of core area policy on species other than sage grouse

Researchers at the University of Wyoming conducting a study to figure out whether sage grouse core areas provide benefits to other species.

The group’s Matt Kauffman says it’s commonly assumed that the answer is yes.

“This is part of what ecologists call the umbrella species concept – that by protecting one species you can protect other species that use a similar habitat,” Kauffman said.

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Open Spaces
5:02 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

December 7th, 2012

Credit Willow Belden

Converse County oil boom draws concerns from residents
In October, we reported that Chesapeake Energy had drilled a series of oil wells near Douglas, very close to people’s houses. Chesapeake says the area will likely continue to be a core drilling region. That has some area residents uneasy. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.

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News
6:37 am
Wed December 5, 2012

At packed public forum, Chesapeake says Converse County is core drilling territory


Chesapeake Energy told a crowd of nearly 200 people that Converse County will continue to be a hot spot for oil production.  The discussion was part of a public meeting last night in Douglas.

Chesapeake did not say how much oil production will actually occur in the area, but company officials and state regulators tried to allay concerns about the risks associated with flaring and fracking.

Chesapeake’s Sandy Andrew said the ingredients in frack fluid are largely benign.

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Open Spaces
6:02 pm
Fri November 30, 2012

November 30th, 2012

Slot Machine Word

Gambling addiction in Fremont County could be on rise, but not on radar

There have been rumors that Fremont County is experiencing a rise in gambling addiction amongst its residents. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports that whether the rumors are true or not is still unclear, but some services are popping up to address it regardless.

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Open Spaces
4:39 pm
Fri November 30, 2012

Parents want a dual-language immersion program in Casper; one parent explains why

Back to School Slate

A group of parents are trying to get dual-language immersion programs set up in Casper. They’d like two elementary schools to start these programs, and the focus would be on Spanish and Chinese.

Thea True-Wells is the parent who’s spearheading the effort. She joins me now to talk about it, along with Ann Tollefson, an outside consultant who has evaluated dual language programs in other states.    

To listen to the November 30, 2012 Wyoming Open Spaces program, please click here.

Open Spaces
4:17 pm
Fri November 30, 2012

Laramie-based wildlife forensics lab uses DNA to solve poaching cases

Lab Director Dee Dee Hawk examines evidence at the Wildlife Forensics Lab in Laramie.
Willow Belden

INTRO: Each year, the Game and Fish Department discovers dozens of wildlife crimes in Wyoming. They range from hunting without a license, to killing an animal from the road. The department takes these infractions very seriously, and runs a cutting-edge wildlife forensics lab to investigate them. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow visited the lab and filed this report.

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News
9:16 am
Fri November 30, 2012

Health Dept. urges Wyomingites to get tested for STDs

Dec. 1 is World AIDS Day, and the Wyoming Department of Health is urging sexually active Wyomingites to get tested for STDs.

Epidemiologist Courtney Smith says it’s easier to contract HIV if you already have another STD.

“If people are already infected with an STD, it can cause things such as a chancre or a sore that can kind of cause a pathway for HIV to transmit through,” Smith said.

Smith says that anyone who is sexually active should get tested annually, and adds that they should also get tested any time they have a new partner.

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