July 20th, 2012

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Drought Forces Wyoming Ranchers to Sell-Off Cattle in Record Numbers
Thanks to light snowpack and a dry spring, Wyoming is in the midst of a severe drought. Such dry conditions mean that much of the grass that covers Wyoming’s open spaces isn’t growing. Wyoming Public Radio’s Madison Williams reports that’s bad news for the state’s cattle ranchers, who depend on the grass to feed their livestock.

State Agriculture Deputy Meets With Ranchers To Hear Drought Concerns, Point Them To Resources
The drought across the western states has now been designated the largest natural disaster in U.S. history. As we’ve heard, it’s limited the growth of grass, forcing many cattle ranchers to buy already scarce hay or cull their herds early. The Wyoming Department of Agriculture has been hosting public meetings with ranchers around the state. Wyoming Public Radio’s Rebecca Martinez spoke in with Deputy Director Doug Miyamoto to learn what the department is doing to help.

Yellowstone Superintendent Offers Update on Winter Use Plan
This week Yellowstone National Park has held a series of meetings discussing its new proposed winter use plan.  Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk joins Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck and they discuss the fact that after several years of reduced numbers, more snowmobiles may soon be allowed in Yellowstone.

Lawmakers’ Suggestions for Alternatives to Budget Cut Will Likely Be Ignored
Falling natural gas prices mean the state could have a serious revenue shortfall for the coming fiscal year. As a result, Gov. Matt Mead asked all state agencies to prepare for 8-percent budget cuts. Some agencies say they’ll be able to operate fine with less money, but others are worried. And while a few lawmakers are suggesting alternatives to budget cuts, political experts say it’s unlikely their proposals will be adopted. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.

Could Wyoming’s Retirement System Be Changed?
Ever since the economic downturn of 2008, state retirement accounts have suffered as investment income plummeted.  The downturn forced a number of states to cut back on retirement benefits for state employees.  Wyoming’s state retirement system has always been recognized as one of the best in the country, but its value also dropped substantially following the 08 stock market crash.  It’s led lawmakers to take action to turn things around.  But at least one lawmaker is concerned that Wyoming has not gone far enough.  Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports.

15 Years In: WWAMI Program Produces Wyoming Doctors Who Settle In the State
Rural areas throughout the country often have a difficult time recruiting – and retaining – doctors there, and Wyoming is no exception. In 1997, Wyoming with the WWAMI program. WWAMI stands for Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho, rural states that collaborate to send students to the University of Washington Medical School. It’s part of a plan to produce more Wyoming doctors and keep them in the state. Wyoming Public Radio’s Rebecca Martinez checked back to see how it’s working.

Tribal Law and Order Two Years Later
In 2010, Congress passed the Tribal Law and Order Act, or T-L-O-A for short. The act was intended to tackle crime in Indian Country, and had a number of provisions such as better data sharing and communication between tribes, state and federal officials… and enhanced sentencing capabilities for tribes. This month, a final report on how implantation of the TLOA is due.  Affie Ellis is one of the Indian Law and Order Commissioners responsible for writing that report. Ellis’ job has been to conduct field hearings and operate in a fact finding capacity, and she spoke to Wyoming Public Radio’s Tristan Ahtone about some of the issues and comments she’s heard, coming from tribes she’s met with around the country… and a possible delay on the much anticipated report.

Students flock to University Summer Dance Program
This summer, the Snowy Range Dance Festival is drawing dancers from across the Rocky Mountains and as far away as Florida for a period of intensive dance training. Now in its eighteenth year, the festival has long been an important resource for dancers in the region.