A report by the National Park Service indicates that parks are major economic drivers for surrounding communities.
The report shows that park visitation generated more than $700 million in Wyoming in 2012 and supported thousands of jobs and local businesses. Nation-wide, tourists spent more than $26 billion when visiting parks.
Wyoming Republican John Barrasso is leading a fight in the U.S. Senate to change regulations on timber harvesting in national forests. Matt Laslo reports from Washington that environmentalists and foresters are suspicious of his idea.
Walt Niekamp and his wife, Dorothy, lived in Casper years ago where they taught in the Natrona County schools. He has never forgotten Wyoming’s hospitality and landscape. Walt describes how his love for Wyoming, as well as his own career in media, inspired him to support Wyoming Public Media.
A number of speakers asked the Legislature's Joint Labor and Health Committee to pass a bill that would expand Medicaid services in the state. However the committee adjourned and did not return to vote on the bill.
The measure would use federal money to provide insurance well over 17-thousand uninsured people in Wyoming. Supporters ranged from Laramie County who's concerned about raising taxes to make up for 12 million dollars in uncompensated care to those who can't afford health insurance.
The State Senate approved additional funding for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, but not without discussion.
The bill provides $14 million for the department to pay for health insurance and grizzly management. It’s intended to address financial issues within the Department, after a hunting license fee increase was defeated last year.
Senator Phil Nicholas says the fee hike was defeated because the Game and Fish has incurred the wrath of those who pay the fees.
Wyoming lawmakers are voting on the state budget this week and are considering proposals to strengthen the energy industry in the state.
15 million dollars is proposed for a facility to study the capture, sequestration, and management of carbon emissions from a coal fired power plant. Senator Jim Anderson of Glenrock says it’s important to the future of Wyoming Coal.
“Perhaps bring Wyoming into a new era and it would certainly in regard to our reliance on coal and other things that are carbon based be a blessing if in fact we could do this.”
Becky and Aaron Maddox own the Snowy Range Ski Area west of Laramie. Becky is a fourth generation Laramie resident, and Aaron grew up in Steamboat Springs.
The couple grew up skiing, and their love for the sport motivated them to invest their lives in Snowy Range. Becky and Aaron describe how the ski area is not only their business, but is their passion, their family, and their life.
For over a decade the state has struggled with making sure all citizens had access to health care. Much of this had to do with the fact that many Wyoming citizens can’t afford health insurance. The federal affordable care act was supposed to help.
The National Park Service named a new superintendent for Grand Teton National Park this week. David Vela will replace former superintendent Mary Gibson Scott, who retired last year.
Vela is currently an associate director for the Park Service in Washington DC. He has worked at parks and historic sites in Texas, Virginia, and Pennsylvania and directed the Park Service’s southeast region for four years. He says one of his goals is to listen to visitor feedback.
The spread of mountain pine beetles is slowing in Wyoming, according to a survey from the U.S. Forest Service.
Beetles killed 180,000 new acres of trees in 2012, but only 82,000 acres in 2013.
The Forest Service’s Aaron Voos says it’s not surprising.
“They’ve kind of eaten themselves out of house and home,” Voos said. “All of the trees that were susceptible to attack … have been either eaten and are now dead and dying, or they were able to fend off the epidemic and have developed some sort of resiliency.”
Wyoming singer-songwriter Doug Balmain blends genres from Americana, rock, blues, to red dirt country. With a personal fusion of styles and honest lyrics, Doug performs his tune "Home" at the Wyoming Public Media studios.
Wyoming lawmakers killed a number of high profile bills Tuesday that failed to meet the requirement that legislation receive two-thirds support before it can be considered.
One of those bills would have decriminalized marijuana. Casper Representative Steve Harshman strongly opposed the bill.
"What’s going on south of us with an all cash business, and with cartels moving in, this is a real serious issue," Harshman said. "I’d vote no on this, I’d say no on this, I’d send the right message to our kids. "
Governor Matt Mead said that Wyoming is strong and getting stronger. During his annual State of the State address before the legislature, Mead urged lawmakers to invest in Wyoming.
"This investment should include increased support for local government, funding to complete a unified network, increased funding for school and courtroom security, for the elderly and those with developmental disabilities and for upgrading state institutions and facilities. Pay raises for teachers,UW, and other state employees."
Sixteen sled dog teams are racing more than 300 miles this week across western Wyoming and neighboring states. This is the nineteenth year for the International Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog Race. This weekend is the end of the 8-day race that started in Jackson and finished in Evanston. Wyoming Public Radio's Rebecca Huntington caught up with one of the racers, Bruce Magnusson.
Major crimes committed on the Wind River Indian Reservation end up in federal court. But federal courthouses in Wyoming are really far from the reservation, which leads to logistical, constitutional, and social problems. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports.
IRINA ZHOROV: John Crispin’s son was murdered in 2011. He told me about it on a snowy night in the parking lot of a convenience store in Ethete, Wyoming, on the Wind River Indian Reservation.
The common story behind the murder of Matthew Shepard is that he was targeted in Laramie’s fireside bar because he was gay and was the victim of a robbery. Law enforcement authorities say that Shepard was driven to the edge of Laramie and tied to a fence by Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney.
He was then pistol whipped and left for dead. But for years some say there was more to the crime then that and author Steve Jimenez has explored those rumors. His book called “The Book of Matt. Hidden Truths about the murder of Matthew Shepard” paints a different narrative.
The Government Accountability Office released a report earlier this week that outlined problems in the federal coal leasing system. The report called the Bureau of Land Management’s process ‘out of date.’
If you’ve been out snow shoeing or cross country skiing this winter, you may have noticed bicycle tire marks on the trails. That’s because of a new sport called snow biking. It’s gaining popularity fast, and cyclists and bike shops are thrilled. But some skiers feel the bikes present safety risks. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.
Governor Matt Mead talks about his Jackson roots, family influences as the grandson of Senator Cliff Hansen and life in the governors mansion. His conversation is light-hearted as he talks about his Mom and her run for governor in 1990, how he met his wife, Carol and raising their two children.
Governor Matt Mead and other elected officials made the case during a Jackson forum Wednesday that Wyoming's future depends on energy. They said that tapping state's energy resources, from coal to natural gas, is what pays the bills when it comes to building schools and other vital infrastructure.
But the governor said that doesn't mean producing energy should come at the cost of the environment. And that impressed Paul Hansen, who moderated the forum.
Wyoming Republicans aren’t too happy with the vision President Obama laid out in his State of the Union address. The President laid out an ambitious agenda. He wants to invest to increase the minimum wage, spur investments in infrastructure, and continue taking steps to address climate change.
Democrats are cheering on that agenda while Republicans are bristling because the president says he’ll use executive orders whenever possible to bypass G-O-P opposition. Senator John Barrasso says the president missed an opportunity to reach across the aisle.