Maggie Mullen

Reporter, MOUNTAIN WEST NEWS BUREAU

Phone: 307-766-5086
Email: mmullen5@uwyo.edu

Maggie Mullen reports for the Mountain West News Bureau out of Wyoming Public Radio. She is a fifth generation Wyomingite, born and raised in Casper. Before coming to Wyoming Public Radio, she was a Master’s student in American Studies at the University of Wyoming, where she also earned a BA in English and French. Maggie enjoys writing, cooking, riding bikes, swimming in rivers and lakes, and her Labrador, Jane. She’s also a fervent believer that no meal is complete without hot sauce.

Ways to Connect

Wikimedia Commons

Ski resorts in Wyoming’s western mountains are seeing historic snow depths because of heavy snowfall that first began in early December.

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort spokeswoman Anna Cole said the resort is now 100 percent open after a delayed season because there wasn’t enough snow early on. But Cole said the resort has made up for that delay.

Wikimedia Commons

An updated mitigation policy from the Bureau of Land Management will address inconsistent rules that once created problems for companies trying to operate in western states. Mitigation rules, or how companies are required to lessen or offset negative environmental effects they might cause on public land, will now be the same for all public land.

Eric Holst is the Associate Vice President at the Environmental Defense Fund. He said public land should be able to support both wildlife and energy development, and the new policy addresses the need to create such a balance.

Wikimedia Commons

The United States Department of Agriculture will invest $225 million dollars in conservation projects across the country, including two in northeastern Wyoming that will continue efforts in forest health and enhancing sage-grouse environments.

Maggie Mullen

Last year, the Arizona Final Salute Foundation asked University of Wyoming student Cassidy Newkirk to paint the sinking of the USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Prints of the painting would help raise money to fly the six remaining survivors of the Arizona to Hawaii to be honored at the 75th anniversary ceremony. But as soon as she began the work, Newkirk said strange things started happening.

When Newkirk was commissioned she said she was given certain guidelines. 

Wikimedia Commons

One of President-elect Donald Trump’s biggest campaign promises was to enact stricter immigration policies. That has caused concern for the Jackson community, a town with a large immigrant population. Immigration laws are outside of the jurisdiction of local law enforcement, but Mayor-elect Pete Muldoon said the town could pass a resolution or ordinance to limit its cooperation with federal authorities.

Joshua Doubek / Wikimedia Commons

The Environmental Protection Agency has reversed a previous finding that fracking did not cause “widespread, systemic” harm to drinking water in the United States. In its final report on the issue, the EPA said under certain circumstances hydraulic fracturing poses a risk to drinking water resources.

But because of what the agency calls “data gaps,” it was unable to make a definitive statement on just how risky fracking is.

Maggie Mullen

It was standing room only at the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality’s public meeting Thursday, where the agency discussed the state’s final Pavillion groundwater contamination report.

During the meeting, the DEQ reiterated that it found fracking did not cause water contamination in Pavillion. But because the state has not ruled out the possibility that other parts of the oil and gas development process were responsible, the agency said it will take additional samples from fourteen different wells.

Bureau of Land Management

A new rule proposed by the Bureau of Land Management could cut years off of lengthy land use planning debate. The agency said “Planning 2.0” would streamline procedures that have taken up to eight years in the past.

A major component of the initiative includes more opportunities for early public involvement, rather than later on when the agency has already spent years working on a plan.

December 2nd, 2016

Dec 2, 2016

Listen to the full story here. 

GOP Politicians Won't Keep The Sage Grouse From Listing

Wyoming Republicans were dealt a setback in their efforts to keep sage grouse off the federal endangered species list. Correspondent Matt Laslo has the story from Washington. 

 

Maggie Mullen

 

It’s an unseasonably warm November day in Wyoming, and a small group of Bureau of Land Management employees is out in the Checkerboard, just east of Rock Springs. Like a lot of Wyoming, it’s arid with wide open spaces. They’re looking for wild horses. Leading the way is Jay D’Ewart, who works with wild horses for the Rock Springs field office.

“Besides the paperwork,” says D’Ewart. “I’m the eyes and ears for the wild horses out here on the range.”

Flickr creative commons

Following the election, family planning centers in Wyoming say they saw a sharp increase in women seeking long-term contraceptives. But that surge has not been accompanied by increased funding for the cash-strapped clinics.

Nationwide, donations have poured into reproductive health organizations like Planned Parenthood, but in Wyoming, there is only one Planned Parenthood clinic, in Casper.

Wikimedia Commons

Beginning next fall, the University of Wyoming will have beer and wine available for purchase at its football and basketball games. UW’s Board of Trustees approved the plan on Thursday.

Wyoming Athletics Department spokesman Bill Sparks said drinks will cost between six and eight dollars each, and sales are estimated to make at least $290,000. Most of the funds will be used to offset the Athletic Department’s one million dollar budget cut, while some will be given to the university’s alcohol awareness program and a designated driver program.

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

University of Wyoming

In a message to University of Wyoming students, President Laurie Nichols affirmed her commitment to maintaining an inclusive campus community.

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 some losses in Tuesday’s election, the Wyoming State Legislature’s Democratic count is down from 13 to 12. However, there were a couple of victories over Republican incumbents, like Debbie Bovee’s defeat of Gerald Gay in Casper.

Bouchard

Republican Anthony Bouchard beat Independent Kym Zwonitzer in the race for Senate District 6 by about 300 votes. The seat represents rural Laramie and Goshen Counties.

Zwonitzer entered the race after her husband David lost in the Republican primary. Bouchard leads a gun rights organization and calls himself a fiscal conservative.  He says the state must reduce its spending.   

“I think the biggest problem that we have had since the time that I have been watching the legislature very closely, is that it’s just been a spending spree,” said Bouchard. 

Wyoming State Legislature

Republican challenger Jared Olsen beat Democratic incumbent Mary Throne in House District 11 of Laramie County. It was a close race, with Olsen winning by only 63 votes.

Representative Throne’s loss came despite raising more than $34,000, a remarkably high amount for a local race in Wyoming. It’s also remarkable considering she’s served five terms, most recently as the House Minority Floor Leader.

Jared Olsen has never held elected office, but that didn’t keep him from challenging a five-term incumbent. Olsen said Wyoming’s biggest issue is fixing its economy.

WyoFile

  

Campaign finances have started to look different in Wyoming this election season. An unprecedented amount of money is being spent, often times in smaller, local races, and sometimes that money is being spent anonymously.

American Civil Liberties Union of Wyoming

The American Civil Liberties Union of Wyoming has named Sabrina King as its new Policy Director in hopes of increasing its presence in Wyoming, after financial pressures forced the organization to shrink about a year and a half ago.  

Forward Wyoming

Two organizations the Wyoming Republican party alleged violated campaign finance laws sent official responses to the Wyoming Secretary of State’s office. 

The Wyoming GOP said that mailers sent by Forward Wyoming Advocacy were actually paid for by a progressive political consulting firm, but not marked as such. 

But the Executive Director of Forward Wyoming Advocacy, Sydney Stein said in a press release that while her organization contracts with ELLA Wyoming for data management and web design, they are not one and the same.  

Wikipedia

The Wyoming Republican Party has filed two complaints with the Wyoming Secretary of State’s office, alleging certain mailers broke campaign finance laws. The two complaints were filed on October 20 and 25, and refer to two separate mailers sent to Wyoming residents earlier this month, which expressed support for Democratic candidates in legislative races around the state.

Public Domain

Attitudes toward marijuana use appear to be slightly changing in Wyoming. The Wyoming Survey and Analysis Center’s election year survey revealed an increase in support for legalizing marijuana for both personal and medical use.

However, WYSAC researcher Brian Harnisch said residents view each of those issues differently.

“A majority of Wyoming residents still oppose the recreational use of marijuana,” said Harnish. “While at the same time we have sort of an overwhelming majority of Wyoming residents that support the legalization for medical purposes.”

Wyoming Department of Education

State residents will have the opportunity to give the Wyoming Department of Education input on how they should implement a new federal education law. Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, in December, which gives states more authority over education. 

U.S. Forest Service

A study requested by the Wyoming Legislature has found that transferring management of public lands from the federal government to the state would not be revenue positive. Those who support state management of public lands have argued it would increase revenue for the state by encouraging resource development. 

The state paid the Jackson-based Y-2 Consultants $75,000 to examine land management practices, costs and revenues. Almost half of Wyoming is federal land and resource development and recreation on that land is critical to Wyoming’s economy.

Bob Beck

Candidates for Wyoming’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives met Thursday night at Casper College for this election’s only debate. Like many past elections, candidates argued over the legitimacy of their ties to the state and their abilities to understand its unique challenges.

Wikipedia

The Wyoming Supreme Court heard arguments Thursday in the criminal appeals case of former Albany County prosecutor, Richard Bohling.  

In February, Bohling was found guilty of five charges related to improperly using government money to purchase cameras, photography equipment and other electronics. He was sentenced to two to four years in prison, along with an order to pay $45,000 in fines and more than $3,000 in restitution to Albany County. Bohling’s counsel then filed an appeals case with the Wyoming Supreme Court to overturn all five convictions. 

Keep It Public, Wyoming Facebook Page

The group Keep it Public, Wyoming is hosting a rally November 5 to protest public lands being transferred from the federal government to the state.

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