Natural Resources & Energy

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WYDOT

Avalanches can be dangerous and shut down highways on many of the roads going in and out of the Jackson area, especially on Highway 191 through Hoback Canyon. But in the last few years, the Wyoming Department of Transportation has been installing new technology there that’s helped control the problem.

Avalanche technician Jamie Yount said in 2013, they installed the first remotely controlled avalanche exploders in North America. He said the new equipment now allows WYDOT to trigger avalanches on their own schedule and on a closed highway.

USFWS Mountain Prairie

A scientist says more than 6,000 deer are hit and killed on Wyoming roads each year, causing more than $50 million in injuries and damage to cars and wildlife. One scientist is studying the new nighttime speed limits to see if they really work.

Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Radio

A new study from the Wyoming Department of Health suggests gases from a leaky abandoned oil well may have been seeping into the Midwest School for weeks this spring.

Cynthia Lummis

Environmentalists around the West are looking hard at what a Trump administration means for issues like wildlife conservation and federal land takeovers.

National Wildlife Federation President Collin O’Mara said, on the campaign trail, Donald Trump and his son, Donald Trump Junior, both expressed disapproval for the idea of putting federal lands in state control.

Theo Stein / USFWS

Many ranchers around the West are searching for a way to control a recent increase in livestock killed on the range. At the annual Wyoming Farm Bureau meeting this month, members supported a new policy they hope will address the problem. Farm Bureau spokesman Brett Moline said it’s not clear why people are shooting more livestock.

University of Wyoming

Backpacker Magazine has ranked the University of Wyoming as the third best college in the country for hikers. The high ranking was earned in part because of the school’s Outdoor Leadership Development Series, which is a competitive yearlong program that teaches students to be leaders through outdoor activities and wilderness training.

Dan McCoy, the assistant director for campus recreation at the University of Wyoming, said the many opportunities to get outside at UW make for a great recruiting tool.

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Wyoming communities are encouraging holiday shoppers to forego Black Friday and visit their local downtowns on Small Business Saturday instead. American Express initiated Small Business Saturday seven years ago to promote shopping locally during the holiday season rather than buying gifts online. Wyoming Business Council member Tom Dixon said small businesses are part of what makes Wyoming special.

West Virginia regulators have filed a complaint accusing several top executives of the newly-formed coal mining company Contura of committing fraud.

Contura was created as a new company during Alpha Natural Resources' bankruptcy this year. Contura’s main assets are Alpha’s former mines in Wyoming and its leadership team is composed of former Alpha executives.

PUBLIC DOMAIN PICTURES

Despite the snow that Wyoming received this week, the below average snow fall has caused at least one opening day delay for the state’s ski resorts. Grand Targhee Resort was supposed to begin its winter season November 18, but the mild weather and light snow has caused a delay in opening for the first time since 1999. Resort marketing and social media manager, Jennie White, said that she hopes they get more snow soon.

Wyoming Senator John Barrasso will take on a new leadership role in the next Congress, as chair of the Environment and Public Works committee.

The committee has oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency, among other things.

Amy Gerber

A group of federal and state wildlife managers approved the updated management plan for grizzly bear delisting at a meeting in Cody on Wednesday. The Conservation Strategy is a big step toward delisting, since the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recommended delisting. But, Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk voted against it, and a Sierra Club spokeswoman reminded the group grizzly numbers are declining.

Stephanie Joyce

In its largest renewable energy purchase to date, Microsoft has agreed to buy more than 200 megawatts of power from wind farms in Wyoming and Kansas. 

Where do you stand on Standing Rock?

Nov 16, 2016
Standing Rock Sioux

Where do you stand on Standing Rock?  

WPM/NPR Community Discussion Rules

By contributing your comment, you consent to the possibility of having it read on the air. 

(Standing Rock Sioux Tribe)

Daniel Mayer

The man who died in a Yellowstone hot spring last summer was apparently looking for a place to soak in the park. Yellowstone officials released the final report on the accident following a Freedom of Information Act request. The victim’s sister recorded the incident on her cell phone.

The accident happened in Norris Geyser basin on the afternoon of June 7. Deputy Chief Ranger Lorant Veress says it is a very dangerous area with boiling acidic waters.

Daniel Mayer

The National Elk Refuge and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have released a new management plan detailing how the refuge will be managed for the next 15 years.

Stephanie Joyce

Industry groups are already fighting back against a federal rule released Tuesday that would curb methane emissions from oil and gas wells on public lands. 

The rule would restrict venting and flaring from roughly 100,000 wells and the Department of the Interior says it could cut oil and gas emissions by up to 35 percent.

Wyoming Citizen Science Conference

The University of Wyoming Biodiversity Institute will host the first Wyoming Citizen Science Conference in Lander December 1.

Citizen Science programs give regular people the chance to work alongside trained scientists on larger research projects in their own natural areas. Conference organizer Brenna Marsicek said biology and astronomy are especially good fits for citizen scientists, since they can easily gather data by simply looking around their own environment

Credit Wikimedia Commons

The Keepers of the Fire, a Native American organization at the University of Wyoming, is hosting a rally and dance performance on campus Tuesday to educate the community about the pipeline protest in North Dakota. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe has been blocking the completion of the pipeline for months because of fears that leaks would contaminate their water source.

Taylor Albert is the co-chair of the United Multicultural Council, another university group collaborating on the rally. She says Wyomingites could learn a lot from the Standing Rock protests.

Stephanie Joyce

  

Coal country is celebrating Donald Trump’s election victory. Support for Trump was strong from Appalachia to Wyoming, and people have high hopes he can reverse coal’s recent downturn. But can he?

Like most of his co-workers, Jeremy Murphy listened to the election results on the radio in his pickup truck as he worked the overnight shift at the country’s largest coal mine, in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin.

“The two-way radios at work were really quiet,” he said. “Really, really quiet.”

Melodie Edwards

The idea of turning public lands over to the state has raised the hackles of a very diverse group of people. At a recent anti-land transfer rally in Casper, hundreds of hunters and outfitters crowded together with environmentalists and bird watchers. Then on Wednesday, people turned out in droves at a Federal Natural Resources Management Committee meeting in Riverton too.

“They kept bringing in chairs,” said Dan Smitherman, the Wyoming representative for the Wilderness Society. “In fact, there was still standing room only when they got down to business.”

Wikimedia Commons

  

Donald Trump promised sweeping reforms to the energy industry during the campaign. He vowed to bring back coal jobs, boost domestic oil and gas production, back out of international climate change agreements and gut the Environmental Protection Agency.

Photo by Hannah Dunn

Farmers and gardeners will gather in Cheyenne this weekend for a new local food gathering called the Farm to Market Conference, where they will learn how to grow, sell, and process their produce.

Wyoming Department of Agriculture grants manager Ted Craig is helping organize the event. In recent years, he has noticed increasing demand, but also increasing options for selling local food in Wyoming. Craig gives credit to the widespread use of hoop houses, which help producers push the season into the early winter.

Public Domain

A new rule from the U.S. Department of Interior is aimed to spur renewable energy development in areas that have ample wind and solar resources as well as low conflict with wildlife. With the new rule, 700,000 acres of public lands could be used for renewable energy development through a competitive leasing process. 

Alex Daue is the Assistant Director of Energy and Climate for the Wilderness Society. He said public lands should be part of the solution to climate change. 

After a three year, $900,000 investigation, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has concluded fracking did not cause water contamination in Pavillion. But the agency has not ruled out contamination from oil and gas development in general.

Pixabay

A new economic study could help the State Board of Land Commissioners decide on a proposed exchange that could affect as many as 8,000 acres of public lands in Albany County.

Under the Bonander Ranches Exchange, the state would swap 1,000 acres of state trust land in the Laramie Range to a private landowner for less than 300 acres in Crook County. These areas are valued at the same amount, and the smaller parcel could bring revenue to the state in the form of leases and timber sales. 

UNITED STATES GEOLOGICAL SURVEY

This week, a survey will begin to map the underground hydrothermal features of Yellowstone National Park for the first time.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in collaboration with the Aarhus University in Denmark and the University of Wyoming, will use a helicopter carrying electromagnetic technology that resembles a giant hula hoop to record tiny voltage signals.

JAY JOHNSON / ADVENTUREJAY

The public comment period is open on a draft report, which discusses improvements to cycling and pedestrian paths throughout Wyoming.

The Wyoming Bicycle and Pedestrian System Task Force, was appointed by Governor Matt Mead earlier this year, and will rely the public’s input as a guide for the final draft of the report.

Tim Young, the chairman for the task force, said the goal is to hear Wyomingites’ opinions on the different types of trails and paths they would like to see.

Stephanie Joyce

For months, it has been eerily quiet at the Midwest School. Other than the skittering of leaves across the cordoned-off parking lot, the only sounds are the clink of the flagpole and the dog barking across the street.

It’s been this way since May, when health officials closed down the 120-student K-12 school after detecting dangerous levels of toxic gases inside.

Alexis Bonogofsky

For the first time in 130 years, wild bison left their hoof prints on the land on the Wind River Indian Reservation last Thursday.

It’s a goal the Eastern Shoshone tribe say they’ve been working toward for over 70 years. And Wind River Native Advocacy Center Director Jason Baldes has been working toward it his entire career. He said, while only ten young bison were released this time around, the goal is to breed them and eventually grow a larger herd.

Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Media

With a record increase in U.S. crude stockpiles this week as well as increased production from OPEC, it is looking more and more unlikely oil prices will rebound in the near future.

Oil opened November back below $50 a barrel, after spending much of October above that threshold, and analysts are increasingly forecasting the coming year will not bring much improvement.

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