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.

The U.S. Interior Department wants to repeal an Obama-era rule that reduces the burning of methane gas on federal lands. The public comment period on that plan ended April 23, 2018 and it looks like almost everybody thought it was a bad idea.


  

This is about two very different visions of how we should use land in the American West.

On the Great Plains of Montana, conservationists and tribes want to rewind the clock and return wild bison to the shortgrass prairie. But cowboys and ranchers say if that happens, their way of life – their very culture – will disappear.

The nasty strain of E. coli that’s sickening people across the U.S. has turned up in Idaho and Montana, and health officials remain on alert.

Environmental groups want to stop sheep grazing on public lands in the region. The issue is playing out in the courts in Idaho and Montana.  

Members of Congress are pushing to seal the deal on the status of immigrants who came to this country illegally as children.

The decision was supposed to be made by March 5, but that didn’t happen.

A new Bloomberg analysis looks at the widening gap between the rich and the poor in cities across the nation. 


Coastal communities across the country are suing oil companies for contributing to climate change. Now, a lawsuit in the landlocked interior joins the list.

At the heart of the lawsuit is this realization: Climate change is expensive. Just look at worsening wildfires and floods nationally. 

National Park Week is an annual celebration of what many people call America’s best idea, beginning with a fare-free day, April 21.

It’s International Dark Sky Week, a time to look up and enjoy the night sky across the globe.  Our region is home to many dark sky parks and communities. We’re also home to lots of growth and that means growing light pollution.  

CREDIT JOHN MCCOLGAN, BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT, ALASKA FIRE SERVICE

When it comes to being prepared for an emergency, much of our region lags behind the rest of the country. That's according to a new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

A new report from the American Thoracic Society shows how tightening federal air-pollution standards would pay off in better health and longer lives.

If you’re sneezing a bit more this year, well you’re in good company. At least 50 million Americans suffer from allergies every year. But that number is climbing, and it may be related to climate change.  

The Federal Communications Commission starts dismantling net neutrality regulations on April 23, 2018. That could mean when you’re watching that next episode of ‘The Crown” it could buffer endlessly or not. No one really knows yet.  

Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke has backed off a decision to dramatically hike entrance fees to some National Parks. Since many of these iconic parks are in the Mountain West, this change may have an outsized effect on our region.

Democrats on Capitol Hill are calling for an investigation into the National Park Service, pointing to a report they say follows a "pattern" of censoring scientists who study climate change. So I checked in with the scientist who wrote the latest report and is now worried about her future.

The dry and arid climate of the Western U.S. is marching eastward, thanks to climate change.

That’s the conclusion of a set of studies from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Institute. 


Maggie Mullen

The University of Wyoming is the latest college to launch a new app aimed at preventing sexual assault. 

The tamarisk plant, also called saltcedar, is infesting waterways across the West. The scaly-leafed shrub can grow taller than a person. It sucks up a lot of water and spits out salt, making the soil around it too salty for other plants to grow.

“It’s very bad, yes,” says Alex Gaffke, a graduate student in land resources and environmental science at Montana State University.

Daniel Mayer Via CC BY-SA 3.0

Bison carry brucellosis which causes miscarriage in cattle. Slaughtering bison who wander out of Yellowstone National Park to protect livestock has been a controversial management practice for decades. Superintendent Dan Wenk spoke out on the issue this week.

States like Colorado and Wyoming require that new oil and gas wells be built at least 500 feet away from existing homes. But new research shows that might not be far enough away to protect people’s health.

Now that a National Parks entrance fee hike is on hold, competing legislation is floating through Congress that would permanently pay for the multi-billion dollar maintenance backlog using federal mineral revenues.

Mark Zuckerberg is on the hot seat this week. He’s testifying in front of Congress about Facebook user profiles being mined without permission.  

The data breach prompted a “Delete Facebook” movement that hasn’t really gained any traction.

That’s especially true in the Native American community, where Facebook is much more than sharing cat videos or keeping in touch with friends and family.  

The Union of Concerned Scientists released a report this week saying that the Department of Agriculture has "sidelined science" and "betrayed farmers.” The group is particularly concerned about antibiotics.

Department of the Interior

Too many decisions about the West get made in Washington, D.C. At least, that's what the Secretary of the Interior thinks. Ryan Zinke plans to move thousands of the department’s employees out west to manage water, public lands and energy from there. How might this seemingly dull, bureaucratic plan affect the West in interesting ways? Here's how people with a vested interest responded–starting in Wyoming.  


Jimmy Emerson via Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Mountain West states like Montana, Colorado and Utah are seeing unprecedented population growth right now. In fact, Idaho is the fastest growing state in the nation. But that’s not the case in Wyoming where the population is shrinking. 

 

Denver just became the first city in the region to offer an Uber-like rideshare service focused on kids. And the business model seems to be gaining some traction.

Animal rights advocates are asking the federal government to protect certain wild horses as an endangered species. It’s not their first attempt, but this time it’s a specific herd.

The Patagonia website recently took another swipe at the Trump administration over its decision to shrink national monuments in Utah. This political activism may be the new norm for the outdoor recreation industry.

The Trump administration is proposing a major rule that could potentially weaken Endangered Species Act protections.


U.S. Conference of Mayors

A new question on the 2020 census about citizenship is heading to court.  The U.S. Conference of Mayors is filing a suit contesting its inclusion. But not everyone in the region is on board.  

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