Open Spaces

Open Spaces
3:40 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

The Budget Committee Sen. Enzi Disdains

Republican Senator Mike Enzi

Wyoming’s senior Republican Senator Mike Enzi is on a special budget conference committee that he says has already become a moot point. Matt Laslo reports from Washington on why he’s given up on the group before its really gotten to work.

MATT LASLO: Senator Mike Enzi, along with seventeen Senate Republicans, voted against the final deal to reopen the federal government and avoid a potential default on the nation’s debt.

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Open Spaces
3:36 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

Pollution spikes in Converse County spark concerns over oil and gas expansion

Energy development in Converse County has led to concerns about air quality.
Credit Willow Belden

Converse County is seeing an increasing amount of energy development, and some residents worry that air quality could suffer as a result. The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality and researchers from the University of Wyoming are now monitoring air quality in the area.

On the whole, they’ve found that the air is pretty clean. But they’ve also documented times when pollution levels have spiked. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.

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Open Spaces
3:32 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

Seismic testing rattles surface owners in Carbon County

Ladder Ranch in Savery, Wyoming
Credit Ladder Ranch

For most of Wyoming's history, mineral rights have clearly taken precedence over surface rights. But in 2005, the Legislature passed a split estate law which, for the first time, gave surface owners some say over how their land could be used to access the minerals below it. It was a big change, but many have argued since that it didn’t go far enough.

As Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce reports, a case heard by the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission this week tested the limits of the law, and the rights of surface owners.

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Open Spaces
3:28 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

UW Stages Ambitious Performance of Carmina Burana

One of classical music’s most famous pieces is not normally performed the way the composer conceived it. But next week (Nov. 19-24), the University of Wyoming is staging Carmina Burana the way Carl Orff intended—with dancers and actors alongside the orchestra and chorale. That’s 150 performers onstage at once. Wyoming Public Radio’s Micah Schweizer spoke with UW dance professor and choreographer Lawrence Jackson.

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Open Spaces
3:23 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

“Lessons of the Lost” author Scott Hammond advises readers how to find their way home

“Lessons of the Lost” author Scott Hammond.

Wyoming’s quiet, wild spaces attract adventurers from near and far, but we also hear frequently about adventures gone wrong. Throughout the Mountain West, we hear stories of people who go missing.

By day, Scott Hammond is a management professor at Utah State University, but in his free time, he is a volunteer search-and-rescuer with Rocky Mountain Rescue Dogs. Hammond’s spoke with Wyoming Public Radio’s Rebecca Martinez about his new book “Lessons of the Lost,” which details his experiences with the search and rescue organization.

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Open Spaces
4:11 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

UW President Bob Sternberg responds to criticism

University of Wyoming President Bob Sternberg

It’s been a rough week for UW President Bob Sternberg.  He’s been taken to task by several UW faculty on University list serves over his handling of a number of issues, but people have expressed the most concern over the turnover of some U-W administrators. 

Most recently the dismissal of the College of Education Dean and the resignation of the Law School Dean.  Sternberg gives Bob Beck his perspective on the controversy.

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Open Spaces
4:08 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Lawmakers still worried about Wyoming’s revenue picture

Cheyenne Capitol Building
Credit Bob Beck

The main revenue forecasting arm for the state of Wyoming called 2013 a solid year economically.  Thanks to investments it means the state raised almost 350 million dollars over projections.  But the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group or CREG says while this is great news, problems may be on the horizon. The legislative committee tasked with developing the state’s budget wants to be cautious.  Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports…

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Open Spaces
4:05 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Sinclair’s struggles: A conversation with OSHA

A few weeks ago, the Sinclair Wyoming Refining Company got a $707,000 fine for safety violations. Wyoming’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration, or OSHA, found that Sinclair had willfully violated various safety regulations and failed to fix hazards that could have resulted in death or serious physical harm.

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Open Spaces
4:01 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Converse County wrestles with development planning

An existing natural gas processing facility north of Douglas
Credit Stephanie Joyce

Converse County is one of six counties in Wyoming with no land use regulations. When a proposal to develop zoning came up a decade ago, it went nowhere. But as development associated with the oil and gas boom in the Niobrara explodes, the county is struggling with questions of how to make sure it happens responsibly. And as Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce reports, some residents are starting to question the costs of not planning.

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Open Spaces
3:50 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Grand Teton Superintendent Mary Gibson Scott leaves her post with issues remaining

Mary Gibson Scott
Credit NPS

In her nine years as Superintendent of Grand Teton National Park, Mary Gibson Scott has overseen a number of park improvements from Transportation to a new Visitors Center.  But issues from funding for Parks to protecting wildlife continue to be a concern.  Gibson Scott retires this weekend, so we asked her about a few key issues, such as reforming the Endangered Species Act.

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Open Spaces
3:46 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

StoryCorps: Vietnam veteran talks about his time as a POW

Ted Gostas
Credit StoryCorps

For Veteran’s Day we have a StoryCorps segment of veteran Ted Gostas telling his wife Jody Gostas about being taken as a prisoner of war in the Vietnam War and his years in solitary confinement. Gostas remained a P-O-W for 5 years, 5 months, and 15 days. Of those captured in Northern Vietnam, he was one of only four POWs to stay in solitary confinement for more than four years. 

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Open Spaces
3:38 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Upstarts: Company revolutionizes process for identifying unknown substances

The devices that Snowy Range Instruments makes are used to identify unknown substances
Credit Willow Belden

In our occasional “Upstarts” series, we’re going to visit a company called Snowy Range Instruments. It’s based in Laramie, and it makes devices that can identify mystery substances. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.

WILLOW BELDEN: In a large warehouse-like room, Tony Eads sits hunched over a workbench. He’s holding a soldering iron, and working on the control board for a high-tech instrument. At this stage, the device looks kind of like what you might see if you took apart a computer: basically, a green board with a maze of tiny copper-colored components.

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Open Spaces
3:33 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

Historic Laramie dance hall is a unique treasure

Micah Schweizer

Several times a year, Laramie hosts square dances that attract dancers from hundreds of miles around. Part of the draw is the hall, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Wyoming Public Radio's Micah Schweizer has a postcard from Laramie's Quadra Dangle Square Dance Club.

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Open Spaces
4:09 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Yellowstone’s new winter use rule appeases sportsmen and conservationists alike

Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk
Credit Erik Petersen / For The Washington Post

Warm weather tourist traffic is winding down in Yellowstone National Park, and they’re getting ready for winter tourists. The National Park Services bans over-snow vehicles in all national parks, unless individual parks pass rules permitting and regulating them.

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Open Spaces
4:03 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

UW’s WyCEHG program could help Wyoming get the most out of its water

Hydrogeophysicist Steve Holbrook marks the GPS coordinates of points where he and his team will seismically measure the subsurface. Holbrook co-directs the Wyoming Center for Hydrology and Geophysics, which hopes to better understand snowpack and aquifers in the state.
Credit Rebecca Martinez

In such an arid state as Wyoming, water is precious. Last year, the University of Wyoming created the Wyoming Center for Hydrology and Geophysics, combining field experts and state-of-the art technology to better understand where water goes in after it falls from the sky, since much of it ends up in snowpack or underground.

There isn’t too much information available about that, but it’s important to state and local water managers, who need to know just how much water they have to work with. Rebecca Martinez reports.

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Open Spaces
3:59 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

An unlikely pastime: in pursuit of alternative nuclear power

Dave Earnshaw, in front of one of the sites he envisions could house a liquid fluoride thorium reactor someday.
Credit Stephanie Joyce

Many retired people take up a hobby -- knitting, bird watching, bingo. But two Laramie retirees have decided to spend their days in pursuit of a decidedly less mainstream pastime: solving the energy challenges of our time. Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce has the story.

STEPHANIE JOYCE: It’s a sunny fall day, and Dave Earnshaw is standing outside the central energy plant at the University of Wyoming, staring out over the empty field that sits next to it.

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Open Spaces
3:55 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Thru hiking the Continental Divide Trail

Marc Koeplin
Credit Marc Koeplin

The Continental Divide Trail is a hiking path that runs from Canada to Mexico, along the great divide. It’s more than 3,000 miles long, and only a handful of people hike the whole thing in a single year. Marc Koeplin of Cheyenne is one of them.

He and his hiking partner finished the trail a few weeks ago, and joined Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden to talk about the trip. He says his first long-distance hike was the Appelachian Trail, which he did 12 years ago.

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Open Spaces
3:52 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

New conservation tools help WY ranchers stay sustainable

Snake River Ranch
Credit Snake River Ranch

Ranchers have always planned for the next season and the next generation…and as such have been natural conservationists. But new management tools in the conservation toolbox are making it easier for land owners to be successful stewards of their land. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports that ranchers are up for the challenge. 

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Open Spaces
3:48 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Wyoming Wine project creates new opportunities for academics and landowners to work together

Undergraduate student Braxton Tyree, professors Dan Bergey and Sadanand Dhekney, and graduate students Ali al Hassan and Raju Kandel check their research grape vines on the edge of Sheridan College.
Chelsea Biondolillo

Wyoming might not be the first choice for grape growers and aspiring vinters, but a group in Sheridan is working to change that. Professors, graduate and undergraduate students at UW and Sheridan College are using advanced techniques to identify traits in different grape varieties that make them well suited to Wyoming. Wyoming Public Radio’s Chelsea Biondolillo reports.

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Open Spaces
3:42 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

UW theatre premier puts philosophy of Ayn Rand on trial

Playwright William Missouri Downs says Ayn Rand’s rational, objective philosophy helped him through college. But in Downs’ newest play, certainty is lacking. Writer and philosopher Ayn Rand is put on trial, and the audience is the jury. Wyoming Public Media’s Micah Schweizer spoke with William Missouri Downs.

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Open Spaces
3:37 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

“Cowboys and East Indians” author Nina McConigley shares about her own life as an Indian American

Nina McConigley

Nina McConigley is a lecturer in the University of Wyoming’s English Department. Her new book is a collection of short stories called Cowboys and East Indians.

Her book tells the stories of a variety of Indian characters living in Wyoming, and explores what, often, reads as an unusual combination. McConigley’s father is an Irish-born petroleum geologist, and her mother, Nimi McConigley, was the first Indian-born person to serve in the Wyoming Legislature.  Nina tells Rebecca Martinez she grew up in Casper.

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Open Spaces
3:32 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Wyoming Stories: Learning to see at age 38

Pat Logan and Dave Stratton
Credit StoryCorps

We’re going to hear now from a woman who was blind for the first 38 years of her life. At that point, a doctor told her he could make her see. After four surgeries, she finally gained her vision.

The woman’s name is Pat Logan, and we’ll hear a conversation she had with Dave Stratton, the chaplain for the Program for All Inclusive Care for the Elderly, in Cheyenne. The interview was recorded as part of StoryCorps, a project that records conversations between loved ones.

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Open Spaces
5:57 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Groundwater testing near oil and gas wells: how much data is enough?

Geologicresources monitoring

A proposal to test water quality at oil and gas wells before and after drilling is making its way through the rulemaking process. The governor’s office and industry hope it will answer some of the questions surrounding groundwater contamination near oil and gas development, but as Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce reports, the rule may not actually be able to answer the question of who’s responsible, if contamination occurs, and that has some people questioning whether it’s valuable at all.

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Open Spaces
5:49 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Author of “Coal in Campbell County” talks about her motivation for writing about coal

Mary Kelley

Mary Kelley is the author of Coal in Campbell County, a book that traces the lineage of each of Gillette’s major coal companies in the area. It’s her second book about the coal industry in Gillette. She and her husband both worked for the AMAX coal company for many years. Kelley told Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov that she wanted to preserve the history of the coal companies, but also show how they helped create a good life for people like her in Campbell County.

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Open Spaces
5:46 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Inaugural Women’s Antelope Hunt a success, despite snow

Left to right, Tara Heaton, guide Fred Williams, and Crystal Mayfield pose with their antelope on the second day of the hunt.
Fred Williams

Women still only make up a small percentage of all hunters, but that number has increased significantly in recent years. Now, organizations like the Wyoming Women’s Foundation want to encourage more growth through mentorship. The group says hunting is an important way to teach self-sufficiency and economic independence. Wyoming Public Radio's Irina Zhorov tagged along on the state's inaugural Women's Antelope Hunt and filed this report.

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Open Spaces
5:36 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Researchers seek to determine behavioral effects of contraception on coyotes

Marjie MacGregor is researching birth control for coyotes
Willow Belden

Last year, we reported on research that’s being done at the University of Wyoming regarding coyote contraception. The idea is to use birth control to reduce coyote numbers, and in particular, to keep coyotes from killing livestock. The project now has some preliminary results, and Marjie MacGregor, who’s leading the study, joins us now to talk about what they’ve found, and what’s next.

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Open Spaces
5:31 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Fossils on private lands find collectors and critics

JP Cavigelli looks for small fossils on a private ranch, near Lusk.
Irina Zhorov

Wyoming was once wet, balmy, and full of creatures like dinosaurs. Today, their fossils are slowly weathering out of the ground. If the bones happen to be on public land, researchers are granted permits to dig for them and the fossils have to end up in a public repository. But on private land, anyone can dig and they can do whatever they want with the specimens. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports that commercial, or independent collectors, are sometimes eyed warily.

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Open Spaces
5:24 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Hot Springs County High School is hoping that technology will lead to better results

As schools look at new ways to improve education, in Thermopolis they are hoping that new technology and the access it brings to data bases, videos, and better access to the outside world will improve learning and teaching.  Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck has more. 

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