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
3:12 pm
Fri August 17, 2012

Wildfires Are Impacting Wyoming Wildlife

We’re joined now by Tom Ryder with the Game and Fish Department. He’s here to talk about the how wildlife are affected by the wildfires that have burned this season. He tells Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden that, when fires break out, some animals tend to suffer, while others actually benefit in the long run.

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News
3:12 pm
Wed August 15, 2012

Drought-induced hay shortage drives up prices

The USDA is predicting that this year’s hay crop will be the worst in decades because of the drought.

Platte County Extension Agent Dallas Mount says most Wyoming hay farmers are producing only half as much hay as usual, and some are producing none at all. He says that’s driving up prices.

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Elections
6:31 pm
Tue August 14, 2012

Bleming, a soldier of fortune from Lusk, seeks Barrasso’s seat

Sen. John Barrasso faces two Republican opponents in next week’s primary election. One of them is Thomas Bleming of Lusk.

Bleming is a former soldier of fortune and says what most sets him apart from the incumbent is that he opposes the Patriot Act, which Barrasso voted for.

Bleming says to balance the federal government, he would make sweeping cuts.

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US Senate
5:56 am
Mon August 13, 2012

Democrat Tim Chesnut vies for Barrasso’s seat

Two Democrats are running for the chance to replace U.S. Senator John Barrasso this election season.  One of those Democrats is Albany County Commissioner Tim Chestnut. 

  Chesnut says he has a number of ideas for balancing the federal budget, starting with cutting funding for the military by ten percent.

  “I think we need to stop all the wars and bring the guys home, especially the most costly and longest war we’ve been in – that’s the war on drugs,” Chesnut said. “I think raising taxes and cutting programs are all on the table.”

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Sage Grouse
5:53 am
Mon August 13, 2012

Research shows recreators disturb eagle nests

New research suggests that golden eagles may be more disturbed by people recreating near their nests than by energy development.

  Charles Preston is in charge of the study, which is monitoring eagles in the Bighorn Basin. He says eagles didn’t alter their nesting habits when oil and gas wells moved in, but he says an increase in people riding ATVs, target shooting, and hiking did seem to have an effect on the birds.

News
5:51 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

Veterans group stages cavalry re-enactment

The group Veterans Silent Cavalry is putting on a re-enactment of a cavalry supply patrol. They’ll be going from Cheyenne to Fort Laramie, riding in formation and dressed in cavalry uniforms from the 1800s.

Organizer Doug Gumm says they’re trying to raise money for injured service members. And he says they’ve gotten a lot of support from local businesses already.

“And we’ve had several ranches that are allowing us to camp on their properties as a donation,” Gumm said. “We’ve had a couple ranches give us feed for the horses.”

Open Spaces
5:05 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

Yellowstone raptor study examines impact of human disturbance on eagles

We’re joined now by Charles Preston. He’s the senior curator at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, and he’s overseeing a research project involving golden eagles in the Bighorn Basin. The first goal of the project is to get baseline numbers on eagles in the area. Then, they’re looking at how human disturbances – like energy development, or just people recreating – are affecting the birds.

Open Spaces
5:02 pm
Fri August 10, 2012

Researchers study contraception as a potential coyote management tool

Marjie MacGregor weighs one of the test coyotes
Willow Belden

Talk to almost anyone who raises sheep in Wyoming, and they’ll tell you they’ve had problems with coyotes.  Traditionally, the response has been to kill the coyotes, often by aerial gunning. But researchers at the University of Wyoming are trying to come up with an alternative management tool, which they hope will work better in the long-term and be more  humane. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.

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News
4:23 pm
Thu August 9, 2012

Heart Mountain Pilgrimage kicks off Friday

Japanese Americans whose families were incarcerated at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center during World War II will be gathering in Cody tomorrow and Saturday.

Former U.S. Senator Al Simpson, and former Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta will join the group for panel discussions and documentary film screenings. Shirley Higuchi is one of the organizers, and she says participants will be discussing whether this type of thing could happen again.

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News
6:38 pm
Tue August 7, 2012

Wyoming ranks first in the nation for women owned firms

A new report says that businesses owned by women are doing better in Wyoming than in any other state.

The study by the group Womenable considered the growth in the number of women-owned firms, how many people those firms employ, and the revenue they generate. CEO Julie Weeks says Wyoming’s ranking makes sense, despite the dominance of the energy industry.

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News
12:16 pm
Mon August 6, 2012

Study maps preferred territory for sage grouse

A new study has determined which areas within the Atlantic Rim oil and gas field near Rawlins are most important for sage grouse.

The study’s author, Chris Kirol, was a grad student in the University of Wyoming’s Department of Ecosystems Science and Management. He says they put radio collars on sage grouse to track which areas they liked and which areas they avoided.

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News
4:25 pm
Fri August 3, 2012

Mills officials upset over proposed mud recycling facility

Officials in Mills say they don’t want a proposed drilling-mud recycling facility to be built just outside of the town’s borders.

The plant would take oil-soaked mud from oil and gas wells, and remove impurities before sending it to the landfill.

Mills Mayor Elsie Herbort says she’s concerned that the plant could give off bad odors and use dangerous chemicals.

“Why don’t they put it out closer to the rigs where the drilling is taking place, rather than in a residential and commercial area?” Mills said.

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News
6:43 pm
Wed August 1, 2012

Fire ban leads to drop in park visitors

Wyoming’s state parks are getting fewer visitors than usual, and park officials say it’s probably because of the ban on campfires.

State Parks Chief of Operations Bill Westerfield says the decline in visitors will mean less money will be available for future improvements at parks and historic sites.

“The user fees – camping and day use fees – go into an enterprise account, and we use that money to build new facilities and to conduct major maintenance on the facilities we have,” Westerfield said.

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News
6:27 pm
Tue July 31, 2012

Court Rules In Favor Of Powder River Basin Coal Leases

A federal district court judge in Washington, D.C. ruled against several conservation groups, who had challenged the BLM over new coal leases in the Powder River Basin.

The leases would let Cloud Peak Energy mine more than 400-million tons of coal. Shannon Anderson with the Powder River Basin Resource Council says her group opposes the plan because they feel coal companies haven’t been doing adequate reclamation of mines.

News
5:24 pm
Mon July 30, 2012

Workers inhale dangerous amounts of fracking dust, study finds

A study by the National Institute of Occupational Safety found that workers involved with hydraulic fracturing are often exposed to dangerously high levels of silica.

Silica sand is used in fracking fluid, and breathing dust from the material can cause lung diseases and cancer.

The sites that were monitored for the study were all outside Wyoming, but John Robitaille with the Petroleum Association of Wyoming says companies here still need to take the matter seriously.

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News
6:36 pm
Fri July 27, 2012

USGS study shows gas production can affect stream water

A new report by the U.S. Geological Survey finds that coal-bed natural gas production can affect water quality in nearby streams.

The study monitored water quality over a ten-year period in Wyoming and Montana, and found that in places like the Powder River, sodium levels increased. Other test sites showed little or no change in water quality.

Report author Melanie Clark says the changes occur because water that’s extracted during gas production sometimes flows into the streams and rivers.

But she says the additional sodium in the water isn’t particularly worrisome.

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Open Spaces
6:09 pm
Fri July 27, 2012

July 27, 2012

BAER Teams Check Extent of Damage After Wild-land Fires
Irina Zhorov

BAER Teams Check Extent of Damage After Wild-land Fires

The fire season came early to Wyoming this year. Usually, Wyoming doesn’t see its biggest fires until late July but already there have been 10 fires that have burned over 265-thousand acres of land. Wet weather and the efforts of thousands of firefighters have contained the larger blazes …So what happens after a fire? Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports.

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Open Spaces
5:12 pm
Fri July 27, 2012

U.S. Geological Survey: Coalbed Natural Gas Production Has Minimal Impacts On Waterways

USGS

The U-S Geological Survey released a study examining how coalbed natural gas production affects water quality in nearby streams and rivers. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden spoke with Melanie Clark, the author of the report.

Open Spaces
4:50 pm
Fri July 27, 2012

Former Israeli Olympian And “Munich Massacre” Survivor To Speak In Jackson

Dan Alon was a fencer on the Israeli team in the 1972 Olympics. That year, terrorists broke into the Olympic Village and attacked the Israeli team members, killing 11 of them. Alon was one of the few who escaped. He’ll be speaking in Jackson on August 9, and he talks with Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden now.

News
6:10 pm
Thu July 26, 2012

New invasive species found near Pinedale

The Game and Fish Department has found a new invasive species in Wyoming. It’s an alligator snapping turtle, which is native to southeastern states and can grow to be more than 200 pounds.

Lucy Diggins with the Game and Fish office in Green River says a fisherman caught the turtle on a lake near Pinedale over the weekend.

“He snagged what he thought was a turtle, using a lure, and quickly realized that this huge, armored turtle, with huge jaws and a long tail, probably was not a Wyoming native species,” Diggins said.

News
8:48 am
Wed July 25, 2012

Wyoming ranks 19th in nation for child well-being

Wyoming kids are better off economically than the average American child, according the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s latest Kids Count report, which tracks child well-being. The study found that only 14-percent of Wyoming children live in poverty, compared to 22-percent nationally.

But Marc Homer with the Wyoming Children’s Action Alliance says those numbers can be misleading.

News
3:39 pm
Tue July 3, 2012

Arapaho Fire ranks second highest priority in Rocky Mountain region

The Arapaho fire near Wheatland is the second highest priority fire in the Rocky Mountain Region as of today. It’s burned nearly 88,000 acres and has forced 300 homes to be evacuated.

Public Information Officer Jim Whittington says erratic winds have pushed the fire in multiple directions, and he says it spread fast.

“The first day it was at 5,000 acres and then a couple days later it was at 75,000 acres. You’re talking 25, 30 thousand acres a day,” Whittington said. “This fire still has a lot of potential, and it obviously grew very fast, very quickly.”

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News
12:40 pm
Mon July 2, 2012

Hundreds asked to evacuate as Squirrel Creek Fire triples in size

A fire near Woods Landing in southeast Wyoming has burned 7,000 acres, and hundreds of residents are being asked to evacuate.

The fire has more than tripled in size since this morning. Albany County Sheriff Dave O’Malley says fire officials tell him they’ve never seen fires spread this fast.

“The moisture level is such that it’s low enough that even green grass burns like dry grass," O'Malley said. "In some situations, the fire has moved as fast as five miles in one hour.”

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Health
6:42 pm
Tue June 26, 2012

Mammogram van to travel through Wyoming

Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Susan G. Komen for the Cure and GE are sending a mobile mammography van around Wyoming to provide breast cancer screening to women in rural areas.

Komen’s Vice President of Community Health Lynn Erdman says Wyoming women are less likely to get mammograms than women in almost any other state. She says the mammography van is meant to provide screening to women who lack access to healthcare facilities, or who can’t afford screening.

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News
5:15 pm
Fri June 22, 2012

Project aims to improve heart attack care in Wyoming

A new 7 million dollar project is aimed at improving heart attack care in Wyoming.

The effort is being funded by the American Heart Association and the Leona and Harry Helmsley Charitable Trust. The goal is to better equipWyoming ambulances to diagnose the most deadly heart attacks. It will also provide training for EMS and hospital personnel.

Gordon Tommaselli is the national president of the American Heart Association. He says time is of the essence with heart attack patients.

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Open Spaces
3:54 pm
Fri June 22, 2012

June 22nd, 2012

Yellowstone National Park is worried that visitors take their safety for granted around wild animals. A passenger of this SUV got out of his car to take a close-up photo of this black bear.
Rebecca Martinez
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