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
3:58 pm
Fri September 21, 2012

OSHA finds 11 serious violations at Sinclair Refinery

The Wyoming Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Sinclair Oil for 11 serious violations at its refinery near Rawlins. There have been four fires at the Sinclair refinery since May, and seven workers have been injured, some critically. OSHA has completed its investigation for one of the incidents and will likely fine the company more than $60,000 for violations.

News
1:21 pm
Fri September 21, 2012

Pinedale task force recommends fixes to ozone problem

A task force in Pinedale has come up with a list of recommendations for how to fix air quality problems in Sublette County.

The area violates federal air quality standards because oil and gas production have led to high levels of ozone, or smog, in recent years. So at the suggestion of Gov. Matt Mead, a group of citizens, industry reps and local leaders got together to come up with a solution.

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News
5:34 am
Fri September 21, 2012

Promising uranium sites found near Baggs

A uranium exploration company has found an area that seems promising for uranium mining near Baggs, in south-central Wyoming.

Crosshair Energy Corporation completed a soil survey and found additional areas with high levels of radon, which indicates uranium in the ground.

Crosshair Vice President Tom Bell says that’s good news for the company.

“Right now we have a resource that’s about five million pounds of uranium in the ground,” Bell said. “And we think that we can add a significant amount of additional pounds of uranium in this new area that we’re moving into.”

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News
4:23 pm
Thu September 20, 2012

Kinder Morgan to pay $316,000 for Clean Air Act violations

The energy company Kinder Morgan is paying a $316,000 penalty for violating Clean Air Act regulations at natural gas plants in Casper and Douglas.

The Environmental Protection Agency says the violations centered around improper handling of chemicals. The agency’s David Cobb says the company wasnot adequately testing its equipment and didn’t have proper operating procedures in place to prevent releases of chemicals. He says those violations had the potential to cause problems.

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News
5:02 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

UW’s lone peer-reviewed journal turns 50

Rocky Mountain Geology, which is UW’s only peer-reviewed scientific journal, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Editor Art Snoke says the journal’s mission – which is to cover a range of topics related to the area’s geology – will stay the same in the future,  but they’re considering some changes for the publication.

“We’re probably at a stage now where we may go totally digital,” Snoke said. “There’s many superb journals that are totally digital. And things have changed so much as far as publishing science, that that would be the next logical step.”

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News
4:43 pm
Fri September 14, 2012

Wyoming Health Dept. seeks volunteer medical professionals

The Wyoming Department of Health is looking for medical professionals to volunteer for the Medical Reserve Corps.

The Health Department’s Angelyn Mayes says Medical Reserve Corps volunteers do a variety of things to help local emergency responders: “A lot of them are used for fire rehab for the firefighters. We have some that assist with mental health for emergencies, when there are a lot of people that have some mental health issues from trauma or different things like that.”

Open Spaces
4:14 pm
Fri September 14, 2012

Beetle killed trees are bad for wildlife

More than a million acres of forest in Wyoming and Colorado by the beetle kill epidemic. That means lots of dry fuel for forest fires. But it also might have an impact on wildlife. So the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is conducting a study to figure out how beetle kill is affecting elk, and elk hunters. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden spoke with wildlife biologist Tony Mong, who’s heading the study. He says the worry is that dead trees could be restricting access to certain parts of the forests.

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Open Spaces
4:12 pm
Fri September 14, 2012

Cheyenne Police Dept. seeks to keep the homeless out of jail

The Cheyenne Police Department has launched an initiative that’s meant to help the homeless get access to shelter and other services, and keep them out of jail. The cops and the one shelter in town are optimistic about the program. But various advocacy groups have major concerns. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.

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News
4:50 pm
Wed September 5, 2012

Fire near Upton 75 percent contained

The Cemetery Fire just east of Upton is about 75 percent contained, and Weston County Fire Warden Daniel Tysdal is optimistic it will be 100 percent contained by tomorrow.

Tysdal says evacuation orders have all been lifted, but the fire did destroy some structures.

“We believe we’ve lost one primary residence and multiple outbuildings,” Tysdal said. “There’s still a couple of homeowners that we need to make contact with and verify exactly what they had for outbuildings, but right now I can say ... it was one primary residence and numerous outbuildings.”

News
4:53 pm
Tue September 4, 2012

Fire near Upton forces evacuations

Twelve homes have been evacuated because of a fire near Upton, in northeast Wyoming, and another 20 are on pre-evacuation status.

Weston County Sheriff Bryan Colvard says the fire is a mile east of Upton and isn’t threatening the town at the moment, but he says residents need to be vigilant.

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News
5:54 pm
Mon September 3, 2012

New book details spectacular Teton rescue

A new book tells the story of a disastrous climbing accident that happened in the Tetons in 2003.

A group of 13 climbers were struck by lightning while climbing Grand Teton, and author Jennifer Woodlief says what drew her to the incident is what happened right afterwards.

Open Spaces, Wyoming Public Media
4:12 pm
Fri August 31, 2012

August 31st, 2012

The creeks that Orville Johnson’s cows would normally drink from are dry this year.
Willow Belden

Drought, hay shortage mean tough economic times for Wyoming ag industry
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says this year’s hay crop will be the worst in decades, because of the drought. Hay is already in short supply, and prices have spiked. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports that the hay shortage is forcing ranchers to make tough choices and could have a lingering economic impact on the state’s ag industry.

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Open Spaces
3:57 pm
Fri August 31, 2012

Drought, hay shortage mean tough economic times for Wyoming ag industry

The creeks that Orville Johnson’s cows would normally drink from are dry this year.
Willow Belden

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says this year’s hay crop will be the worst in decades, because of the drought. Hay is already in short supply, and prices have spiked. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports that the hay shortage is forcing ranchers to make tough choices and could have a lingering economic impact on the state’s ag industry.

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Open Spaces
3:51 pm
Fri August 31, 2012

Author discusses new book about epic Teton accident

Willow Belden talks with author Jennifer Woodlief. She recently published a new book about a particularly disastrous climbing accident in the Tetons. The book is called “A Bolt from the Blue,” and it describes the accident … and the ensuing rescue operation.

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Open Spaces
3:45 pm
Fri August 31, 2012

Partners In Health co-founder discusses meeting healthcare challenges in the third world before trip

Paul Farmer and Ophelia Dahl, who founded the group Partners in Health, will be speaking in Jackson on September 6th. Partners in Health is a nonprofit that provides healthcare to impoverished people around the world. They started in Haiti in 1987 and now work in 10 different countries. Ophelia Dahl joins us now to talk about their work. She tells Willow Belden, the basic approach is to partner with local governments to accomplish things.

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News
2:57 pm
Fri August 31, 2012

Wyoming wolves removed from Endangered Species List

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is removing wolves from the Endangered Species List in Wyoming. The animals had almost died out before being added to the list in 1970s, but the population has since rebounded.

Today’s announcement means Wyoming – not the federal government – will manage wolf populations. The state will allow the animals to be shot on sight as predators in most places, and will require hunting licenses in a few areas. Wolf hunting season is set begin October first.

The governor’s office says Wyoming’s management plan will ensure that wolves don’t die out.

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News
4:11 pm
Thu August 30, 2012

Fire activity in 2012 sets record

2012 has been the worst fire year on record for Wyoming, according to the Wyoming State Forestry Division.

State Forester Bill Crapser says there’s been more fire activity, and fires have been larger and more extreme than ever before.

“Statewide, the only year that we came close to the same amount of acreage would have been way back in 1988 with the Yellowstone fires,” Crapser said.

The holiday weekend is expected to be hot and dry, so Crapser warns that anyone recreating outside should be exceptionally careful not to start fires.

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News
5:55 pm
Wed August 29, 2012

OSHA investigates string of fires at Sinclair refinery

Wyoming’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration is investigating a series of fires and explosions at the Sinclair Oil Refinery near Rawlins.

The plant has seen four fires since May, and seven workers have been injured, some critically. The most recent incident was last week.

OSHA Administrator John Ysebaert says investigations are still pending, but they have some preliminary ideas about the problems.

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News
4:29 pm
Wed August 29, 2012

Enviro groups support Gingery’s bison plan

Some environmental groups say they support a plan to alter bison hunting rules. The proposal by Rep. Keith Gingery of Jackson would end the once-in-a-lifetime limit on hunting cow bison and would drastically reduce the cost of nonresident licenses.

The goal is to get the bison population down to about 500, from a high of 12-hundred.

Lloyd Dorsey with the Greater Yellowstone Coalition likes the idea.

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News
6:29 pm
Tue August 28, 2012

Wyoming behind schedule with energy policy

Gov. Matt Mead says it’s taking longer than he expected to develop an energy policy for Wyoming.

Mead wanted to have a draft energy policy finished this summer, but he says it’s taking a long time to gather input from all interested parties, including conservation groups, ag groups and the energy industry. Still, he says the finished product will be worth the wait.

“Rather than being reactive and engaging in lawsuits and court battles, let’s work together to find a consensus on where we should go with energy development in the state,” the governor said.

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News
10:01 am
Tue August 28, 2012

Republican governors recommend measures to encourage energy development

The Republican Governors Association has released an “Energy Blueprint for America,” which outlines recommendations for a federal energy policy.

The document calls for developing new energy partnerships with Canada and Mexico, approving the Keystone XL oil Pipeline, reducing EPA regulations regarding oil and gas production, and making it easier to use public lands for energy development.

Gov. Matt Mead says those measures would help encourage energy production of all kinds.

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Politics
11:02 pm
Tue August 21, 2012

Lummis and Henrichsen favor differing fixes to Congressional stalemate

U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis and Democrat Chris Henrichsen both ran unopposed in today’s primaries, and they’ll be facing each other in November.

The two candidates say they have different approaches to working with their colleagues across the aisle.

Lummis says ending the stalemate in Congress is simple.

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News
5:24 pm
Tue August 21, 2012

Wyoming jobless rate up slightly

The Department of Workforce Services says the unemployment rate increased slightly in July, for the second month in a row.

Carola Cowan with the Bureau of Labor Statistics says there are a number of possible reasons for the increase.

“Job gains from natural resources and mining have slowed down from earlier in the year,” Cowan said. “Natural gas prices have remained low, so that kind of affects us. Also, the national recovery has been fairly slow. … And of course the still-weak global economy.”

But Cowan says there’s no major cause for alarm.

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Wildfire
8:54 am
Tue August 21, 2012

Drought and Fires Mean Lean Times for Wildlife

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department says the combination of fires and drought this season is taking its toll on wildlife in the state.

Tom Ryder is the assistant chief of the Wildlife Division. He says larger animals are usually able to escape fires and relocate in surrounding areas. But he says this year, because of the drought, there’s not always enough forage to go round in those surrounding areas.

“Given the fact that this has been one of the most significant droughts in the last hundred years, we anticipate some additional mortality,” Ryder said.

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News
4:40 pm
Mon August 20, 2012

Sinclair Oil to pay $3.8 million penalty for air pollution

Sinclair Oil has agreed to pay a fine of $3.8 million and install pollution controls at its refineries in Casper and Rawlins, to settle a lawsuit that the Environmental Protection Agency filed.

The EPA says the refineries exceeded federal limits on various emissions.

Sheldon Muller, a lawyer with the EPA, says the Casper refinery will have to install equipment to reduce nitrous oxide emissions by 50 percent, and the Rawlins plant has make changes to its flare gas recovery system, in order to limit sulfur dioxide emissions.

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Women in Politics
5:48 am
Mon August 20, 2012

128 women on the ballot for primaries

The primary elections are Tuesday, and 128 women are on the ballot as candidates for state and local offices. Richelle Keinath of the Wyoming Women’s Foundation says that may sound like a lot, but there are nearly three times as many men. “I think we still have a ways to go in terms of what is actually equal,” Keinath said. The gender gap is even more pronounced when it comes to the state legislature. Eighty men are running, compared to 28 women.

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Open Spaces
3:30 pm
Fri August 17, 2012

Many Women Say Family Responsibilities Keep Them From Public Office

Wyoming’s primary elections are Tuesday, and there are more than three times as many male candidates on the ballot for the state legislature as females. That’s because many women find that serving in office, while also holding down a job and raising a family, is just too difficult. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.

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Open Spaces
3:24 pm
Fri August 17, 2012

Drought Stunted Hay Crop Takes Heavy Toll On Ranchers

The drought this season has taken its toll on farmers growing hay. The U-S Department of Agriculture is predicting that Wyoming’s hay crop this year will be the worst since the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s. Platte County Extension Agent Dallas Mount joins us now to talk about that. He tells Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden the situation is ALREADY very bad.

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