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A docuseries hopes to show environmental changes everyday people are experiencing in the Rocky Mountain West

A fire burns near a body of water, likely a stream
A forest fire rages in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Climate change has increased the intensity of wild and forest fires in the West in previous decades, which often burn longer and hotter than they once were. A Changing Frontier tells the stories of those directly impacted by environmental and climate change.

A University of Wyoming graduate student has created a docuseries that focuses on Wyoming and surrounding regions, telling the story of those who have been affected first-hand by environmental and climate change. The series' creator Taryn Bradley spoke with Wyoming Public Radio's Hugh Cook.

Taryn Bradley: I've always cared a lot about the environment and the impacts of the environment that we've been experiencing. And I think recently, there's become this political divide between, you know, things like climate change and global warming. And I just wanted to take a step back from that and focus more on the environmental changes that individual people are noticing and the impacts of those changes, rather than the broader picture of like, what's happening or what's responsible for that. Just so we can all get on the same wavelength, and level. And I think a lot of people have a lot of great testimonies when it comes to how environmental change affects their livelihood, how it affects their hobbies, their outdoor activities, and things like that. So the goal and how I really came up with this project was coupled with my passion for the environment and for nature and also wanting to communicate that with the rest of Wyoming in this case, or even the Midwest or Rocky Mountain West.

Hugh Cook: So, is the programming primarily focused on climate change, drought type issues? Or are there other areas of focus that you have or would like to feature as well?

TB: The different episodes feature different individuals who talk about different impacts and different changes that they're noticing. So some people talk more specifically about warmer temperatures and how warmer temperatures are affecting things that they love to do like skiing or ranching. There is an aspect of drought as well, that some of the people kind of talk about. There's irresponsible recreation and how that tends to affect the environment as well. So it's a lot of different components and a lot of different environmental changes that various people are noticing.

HC: When was the docuseries launched?

TB: So, I started filming in January of 2022. I started interviewing people traveling across Wyoming and northern Colorado to talk with different people, get some testimonies from them. And then I started moving into the editing process in late February, March, April, and then finalizing things now in May.

HC: Was it just you that's involved with the docuseries? Are there other people that are involved with the production of it?

TB: The docuseries is for my master's thesis and communication and journalism. So mainly, I'm the one working on the project. I've also been working closely with my thesis chair, Dr. Katie Cooper, as well. But yeah, it's basically, I've done most of the editing, all of the filming and things like that.

HC: When you are asking people to contribute to this, what is their reaction?

TB: So I would say overall, the response is positive for most people, they're pretty willing to talk. And I think the great thing about these testimonies is that everyone has, like, their own personal expert, right. So, like, a rancher is going to know about things that are affecting the ranching community and affecting their ability to ranch and get a good yield of their crop or work with their livestock or things like that. Whereas, like, same thing with a skier, they're going to be an expert in skiing, and be attuned to those environmental changes and how that's impacting their sport.

HC: How did you find the subjects for each of the episodes thus far?

TB: A lot of it was personal connection, for sure. So some of the people on my committee linked me up with some people that they've known from their own past. Some of the people were found through like my own graduate cohort people that I work with and are friends with within my program. The other individuals that I've reached out to were journalists who pointed me in directions of maybe people in their communities or people that they've heard of that might be willing to talk to me. So it was a lot of things and a lot of outreach and a lot of work. But yeah, mostly personal connections.

HC: Are you looking to produce further episodes? Or will the four be all that is part of the series?

TB: I would love to produce more videos, but with being a recent graduate, it's kind of difficult, right. Because obviously, this was a master's thesis project. So I wasn't getting paid or anything to do this. So I'm not quite sure of the longevity of this project. I would love to see it continued. And I do have some other footage that I hadn't had the chance to edit just because of the time constraints of the project and deadlines and things like that. So I would love to produce those episodes as well. But I think it really comes down to funding and you know, time to continue the project but I would love to if given the opportunity to.

HC: Are there any kind of specific jobs that you're interested in? You said you were interested in possibly continuing this kind of project for the future. Is there anything specifically that you're looking at right now to be able to do that?

TB: So jobs in science communication is really what I'm hoping for. I think more broadly, when it comes to science, there's a pretty big disconnect between scientific findings and even scientists and the lay population, the general public. So I would love to be a part of kind of bridging that gap and or bridging that gap. Really, I would just like to be a part of bridging that gap between the scientific community and the lay community in whatever job that might lead to.

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
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