The Mountain West News Bureau

The Mountain West News Bureau team, from left to right: Amanda Peacher, Judy Fahys, Ali Budner, Rae Ellen Bichell, Maggie Mullen, Nate Hegyi and Kate Concannon.

In addition to a full news department serving just Wyoming, Wyoming Public Media is a founding partner in the Mountain West News Bureau, a partnership of public media stations that serve the Rocky Mountain States of Wyoming, Colorado Idaho, Montana, and Utah. Our mission is to tell stories about the people, places, and issues of the Rocky Mountain West.

Many of these stories and issues are regional and affect all people living in the Mountain West. From land and water management to growth in the expanding West to our unique culture and heritage, the Bureau addresses issues that define us as a region. Part of the Bureau’s charge is to submit stories to NPR and other national and global distributors, thus sharing the Mountain West culture more broadly.

Contributing stations include Boise State Public RadioWyoming Public MediaYellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

The editor for the Mountain West News Bureau is Kate Concannon, a long-time NPR regional editor. Maggie Mullen is the lead Wyoming reporter for this partnership, with contributions from all Wyoming Public Media reporters. The partnership is overseen by news directors in all participating stations and networks.

The Mountain West News Bureau is supported in part by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Regional Journalism Center program. Matching or contributing donations for the support of this initiative or for general WPM reporting are welcome. For more information, contact Christina Kuzmych, Wyoming Public Media General Manager at ckuzmych@uwyo.edu.

Public lands facilities around the nation are cutting budgets and staff. But in the Mountain West region, cutbacks at Montana's National Bison Refuge are prompting accusations of a political vendetta by regional U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service managers. 

This month, Colorado became the first state in the nation to allow school nurses to administer medical marijuana to students. But not all nurses may be on board.

A lot of people may not have heard of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, or that it’s in jeopardy.

It's officially Hemp History Week. The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution that recognizes the “full growth potential of the industrial hemp industry.” But at the state level, real progress for the hemp industry is still all over the map.

NPS photo by Neal Herbert

The Trump administration is forcing the head of Yellowstone National Park out of his job. Dan Wenk said the National Park Service will replace him with a new superintendent this August.

Environmental Protection Agency leader Scott Pruitt made a quiet visit to Boise Tuesday, to sign a new agreement between his agency and the state of Idaho.

 


The fossil skeleton of a carnivorous dinosaur recently found in Wyoming was just auctioned off in Paris. Paleontologists are worried the sale is part of a trend that will keep specimens from our region out of the hands of scientists.

Wildfire season is ramping up in the region. Fire teams are now working to quash one outside Durango, Colorado, and Utah recently stopped another. That state is now doing prescribed burns to reduce the chance of a bigger blaze.

Protests and blockades of clinics that perform abortions are up dramatically around the nation, including Colorado, the first state in the union to pass a law legalizing abortion more than fifty years ago.  

Our region ranks in the top ten for suicide. A new study from the University of Utah shows there may be a reason for that.

In the summer of 2012, fiancés David Mullins and Charlie Craig tried to order a wedding cake from a shop in a Denver suburb. The owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop refused to serve the same-sex couple because of his Christian beliefs. Now, the Supreme Court has sided with the baker, but not for the reason you might expect.

Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk
NPS Public Domain

In somewhat of a surprise move, Dan Wenk, the head of Yellowstone National Park announced his retirement Friday amidst speculation he was being reassigned for political reasons. The Mountain West News Bureau’s Nate Hegyi spoke with him over the phone about his retirement and his potential reassignment.

The head of Yellowstone National Park says he plans to retire next March, ending a more than four decade run with the National Park Service. The surprise announcement came after speculation he was being reassigned for political reasons.

Mike Cavaroc

You may not have been to Yellowstone or the Grand Teton but you’ve probably seen photos of Bear 610 and her family. Still, the grizzly hasn’t been spotted this year and some are concerned she’s met an untimely end.

Climate change is expected to exacerbate wildfires, drought and flooding throughout the Mountain West. Some cities are looking at how these changes will affect their town and how they can prepare.

Colorado will be the first state in the country to test out so-called "smart pavement" on a stretch of highway this year.  The goal of these high tech roads is to make drivers safer.

The Colorado Department of Transportation is partnering with Integrated Roadways to install a half mile of high-tech road panels on a mountainous stretch of highway just outside of Denver later this year. Peter Kozinski is the director of CDOT’s $2.75 million “smart pavement” pilot project.

An article published in the journal, Nature, this month explains how a 130 million year old fossilized skull is shaking up scientists’ understanding of how and when the earth’s continents broke apart.

The skull was from a small fur-covered, egg-laying mammal that co-existed with the dinosaurs called the Cifelliodon wakarmoosuch.

Voices continue to mount against the Trump administration's plan to lease land for oil drilling near the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado. The Bureau of Land Management plans to lease more than 20,000 acres of land starting in early September, some of which comes within a mile of the park.

NPS Photo/Ke Qiang Ruan, 2015 Fire Island Photo Contest Entry

Springtime in the Mountain West means newborn animals. And with that comes opportunities for some very adorable wildlife viewing and photography. But officials want to remind visitors and locals alike to hold back from interacting with young wildlife.

President Trump has overturned a rule requiring outfitters to pay river and backcountry guides on public lands a minimum wage.


When you hear about companies like REI or Patagonia, you might think about tents, rain jackets or hikers in puffy coats on a mountaintop. But how about politics? These outdoorsy companies are part of a new wave of business advocates fighting for public lands.


A bipartisan group of Colorado lawmakers kicked off an anti-gerrymandering campaign this month. They want to take redistricting decisions out of the hands of state legislators and put it into the hands of twelve voters.

Willow Pond is like a lot of community fishing holes. It’s in a suburban park beyond the soccer fields and a baseball diamond.

Bikes are off limits in the nation's 100 million acres of wilderness. But a few members of Congress want that to change.

The Interior Department wants to open up a quarter-million acres at national wildlife refuges for hunting and fishing.

The move would impact 21 states. In our region, it would expand hunting at a refuge in Utah  and another in Montana. It would also open Montana’s Swan River refuge to big game hunting for the first time.

Currently the sage grouse is not listed under the Endangered Species Act. And a bill before Congress  would prevent that from happening anytime in the next decade.

Until fairly recently, it was illegal to harvest rainwater in Colorado. Now, as in a number of other Western states, it’s seen as alternative water source in an increasingly dry landscape. But is rainwater safe?

Sybil Sharvelle, an environmental engineer at Colorado State University, is one researcher trying to answer that question.

Conservationists from around the country are opposing congressional legislation to allow a four-lane highway through a desert tortoise preserve in fast-growing southwestern Utah.

Public Domain / Max Pixel

Twenty-eight great plains tribes are demanding two different sites in Yellowstone National Park be renamed. The request says Hayden Valley and Mount Doane are offensive because they memorialize a racist and a murderer. But with local government officials opposing the change, it seems unlikely to happen.

Public Domain / Jean Beaufort

Black bear attacks are extremely rare, but that could be changing. Wildlife officials say with more people coming into contact with wildlife, the chances for conflict will also increase. 

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