A bacteria found naturally in the soil around uranium deposits may become a powerful tool in cleaning up old mine sites. A group of University of Wyoming scientists are collaborating with Cameco, a uranium mining company in Converse County. They’re experimenting with the bacteria’s ability to convert soluble uranium that can contaminate groundwater into less harmful solid form.
The Center for Western Priorities has started a new campaign to show political candidates how important land conservation is to voters.
The campaign is called “Winning the West” and includes paid advertisements, a website, and a series of public events across several western states.
Greg Zimmerman is the policy director at the Center. He says the campaign was started after a Colorado College poll showed that voters across the political spectrum voted for candidates who support land conservation.
With winds and low precipitation causing fire danger to escalate in rangelands around the state, the Bureau of Land Management is keeping a close eye on sage grouse habitat. Senior Resource Advisor Pam Murdock says they’re working hard to control the fires.
"I know that there are a few going on currently," she says. "We have one, I was just informed of yesterday, that did get ignited over the weekend that was in sage grouse core area up in the Bighorn Basin."
She says it isn't easy juggling conflicting priorities.
Seven school districts in Wyoming are arguing that the state has underfunded K-12 schools in the past several years by failing to adjust for inflation.
The coalition says the state owes Wyoming’s school districts $151 million dollars for the last three years.
State Representative Tim Stubson of Casper is on the Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee. He says the Legislature does account for inflation in school funding—and granted an external cost adjustment—or ECA—this year.
The federal government has released new rules for trains transporting crude oil. They come in response to a number of dramatic crude train derailments over the last year, including one that destroyed the town of Lac Megantic, Quebec.
The draft rules make a number of recommendations, the biggest of which is phasing out a type of tank car called DOT-111s over the next two years. Those cars have been disparagingly called "Coke cans" because they're thin-walled and often rip open in derailments, but they're the most common way to transport crude oil by rail.
On Tuesday, park personnel recovered the body of Will Cornyn, a hiker in Grand Teton National Park who had been reported missing on Monday. Cornyn was found at the foot of a steep drop near Inspiration Hill after a six-hour search. He is the fifth visitor to die in the park this year.
Most fatalities that occur in the park are caused by risky activities such as rock climbing, white-water rafting, and hiking in the backcountry.
Park official Jackie Skaggs says that planning ahead, understanding one’s own physical limitations, and being prepared makes for a safer trip.
The face of Wyoming is changing, slowly but steadily, according to Wyoming’s Principal Economist Wenlin Liu, who says the state will continue to see ethnic diversity as people move here to work. There has been a 17-percent increase in all ethnic groups between 2010 and 2013. Meanwhile, white population growth was only a little over one percent.
Liu says minority populations are also keeping the median age lower than the national average by as much as a year.
The special legislative committee investigating Wyoming schools Superintendent Cindy Hill has released a final report sharply criticizing her performance.
The report released Wednesday concludes Hill failed to follow legislative budget directives and intentionally violated the law by requiring permanent Education Department employees to certify she could fire them at any time.
Wyoming is seeing an increase in cases of whooping cough, or pertussis, according to numbers released by the state Department of Health.
Pertussis begins with cold-like symptoms but then progresses to a violent, uncontrollable cough within a few weeks. So far this year 43 cases have been reported, which is higher than this time in any of the last four years.
Kim Deti with the Department of Health says the agency is particularly concerned with several cases in and around Gillette.
The Wyoming Air National Guard will send two military air tankers to Boise, Idaho to help fight wildfires burning in the Pacific Northwest.
The planes are equipped with a special fire-fighting device called a MAFF –which stands for Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System and can drop up to 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than five seconds.
Deidre Forster with the Wyoming Military department says that sending the planes to the northwest will not impact Wyoming’s own fire-fighting abilities.
Wyoming has dropped several spots in its ranking in a national report on children’s well-being.
The 2014 Kids Count Index ranked Wyoming 19th in the country, down from 15th last year. The report weighs several factors. Wyoming earned a sixth place ranking for children’s economic well-being, but ranked 45th in health.
Some of the factors contributing to that low ranking include rates of teen alcohol abuse, the number of children without health insurance, and the number of babies born underweight.
A small town in northeastern Wyoming is now on the market.
The town of Aladdin is home to 15 people, and sits on thirty acres near Devil’s Tower. Judy Brengle and her husband Rick bought the town in 1986.
She says being the mayor, store manager, chief of police, and cleaning person over the years has been tough, but rewarding.
‘There are a lot of people who don’t understand how much work it is to keep everything going. But it is a great place to live and a great place to raise kids and living in Wyoming is pretty wonderful.”
Stephanie Joyce, Wyoming Public Media's Energy & Natural Resources Reporter, will moderate a discussion on Wyoming's raw commodity exports, primarily focused on coal and natural gas. Speakers with a diversity of perspectives will be invited to participate in the conversation.
Panelists include Dr. Roger Coupal, UW Professor of Agricultural & Applied Economics, Shawn Reese, CEO of the Wyoming Business Council, and Wyoming Representative Thomas Lubnau, House District H31 (tentative).
The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations has approved a budget for the Interior and Environment for 2015, and Wyoming Representative Cynthia Lummis says, if passed into law, the bill would have a huge impact on Western states like Wyoming.
Wyoming regulatory officials have cited Denver-based Western Sugar Cooperative for hazards at its Torrington and Lovell facilities.
The department of Workforce Services and Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined the company almost two hundred thousand dollars. The fines were for inadequate safety standards and failure to guard equipment, among other problems.
The Laramie City Council is discussing whether or not it wants to regulate e-cigarettes. They have held one informational meeting so far, and are expected to decide in the coming weeks whether or not to add vaporizing and electronic cigarettes to the citywide public smoking ban or to develop a separate ordinance.
The city regulates where smoking can occur. Councilwoman Vicky Henry says that the council is trying to decide if it wants to regulate electronic cigarettes and how to go about it. E-cigarettes and vaporizers produce a liquid vapor, rather than smoke.
A computer error has left the Wyoming Game and Fish with nearly 700 leftover hunting licenses. The agency reported today that the error only affected a small percentage of online sales.
Jennifer Doering with Game and Fish says that website visitors who attempted to reserve group licenses didn’t see a confirmation screen after making their purchase. The result was that many people thought their sale had not gone through—so they tried again.
A group in Cheyenne hopes to reverse a city ordinance that bans backyard chickens in the city limits. The group calls itself CLUCK, which stands for Cheyenne Local Urban Chicken Keepers. They have scheduled meetings with Cheyenne city council to write a new ordinance to allow as many as four hens to be kept. Laramie County horticulturalist Catherine Wissner is working with the group. She says the fresh eggs and garden compost that chickens provide is great. But they also make wonderful pets.
Wyoming state legislators want more communication and coordination with the University of Wyoming.
The UW Board of Trustees met with several House and Senate members in Casper this week to discuss the relationship between the Legislature and the school. Senate President Tony Ross says the meeting was a good first step, but lawmakers need to play a bigger role in the future.
Thanks to a bill passed in the last budget session, it may soon be legal to use artificial light and out-of-state live bait when fishing in Wyoming. Dave Zafft with Wyoming Game and Fish says its long been against the rules to use lights to draw fish to the lure. Now it could be allowed for nearly all kinds of fishing.
Jeff Clune, a UW associate professor of computer science, and Jingyu Li, a recent Laramie High School graduate, pose with a copy of the paper they wrote that was published in the Proceedings of the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference.
University of Wyoming Computer Science Professor Jeff Clune saw his research published this week showing that robots’ problem-solving skills can be improved by encouraging ‘creative thinking’ in artificial intelligence.
The research was accepted in ‘Proceedings of the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference,’ a peer-reviewed publication.
The robots Clune and his team experimented with were rewarded when they ‘had ideas’ they never had before—basically when their simulated neurons displayed new patterns.
Rhetoric is heating up in Wyoming over new proposed rule from the Environmental Protection Agency. Governor Matt Mead and Senator John Barrasso both claim it will have a huge impact on Wyoming farmers, ranchers and businesses and will give the EPA jurisdiction over more water than ever before.
But Professor Mark Squillace of the University of Colorado School of Law disagrees.
A coalition of science advocacy groups have launched what they’re calling a Climate Science Bill of Rights to push for climate change to be taught in schools around the country. The campaign says all students deserve to explore the causes and consequences of climate change, free from political interference.
The groups behind the bill include Climate Parents, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the National Center for Science Education and the Alliance for Climate Education.
The state says it will release both the draft and final versions of reports investigating water contamination in Pavillion. The clarification comes after landowners wrote a letter to Governor Matt Mead protesting the state’s plan to release the draft to Encana, the oil and gas company some accuse of polluting the water, before releasing it to the public.
Mead's spokesperson, Renny MacKay, says by releasing both copies, and the comments provided by Encana, the Environmental Protection Agency and an independent expert, the public will be able to see the evolution of the document.
The construction of a new Rawlins High School is delayed—and some in the community are angry—after recent bids by subcontractors put the project $7 million dollars over budget.
The State’s School Facilities Department oversees school construction projects in the state. The Department says the high bid is the result of construction labor shortages and adds that it will work with Rawlins to cut costs.
Climb Wyoming says it will discontinue its Sweetwater County program due to a decrease in public funding and other considerations. The non-profit organization trains and places single mothers into career-track jobs.
Climb Wyoming’s Shannon Brooks Hamby said that the Sweetwater County Operation will shut down on October first despite the fact that the program was very successful.