Nate Hegyi

Nate is UM School of Journalism reporter. He reads the news on Montana Public Radio three nights a week.

Last week, the Biden administration unveiled its budget plan for managing federal public lands, and it contains big funding increases that reflect the administration's priorities around conservation and climate change.

As more Americans get vaccinated, they're finally preparing for long-delayed vacations. But if they want to visit some big-name national parks in the West, they may need a reservation.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has created a new unit to confront the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous people, reflecting the first Native American Cabinet secretary's prioritization of the issue in leading an agency that once sought to "civilize or exterminate" Native people.

Many oil, gas and coal-dependent communities around the Mountain West are concerned about the Biden administration's aggressive stance on climate change. But a recent survey of hundreds of economists around the world suggests that reducing emissions now will save us financially in the long run. 

Montana's newly-elected Republican governor violated state hunting regulations when he trapped and shot a collared wolf near Yellowstone National Park in February, according to documents obtained by the Mountain West News Bureau.


The Mountain West saw a dramatic increase in white supremacist propaganda last year, according to a new report from the Anti-Defamation League. 

A Democratic firebrand in Congress has a new role overseeing the oil and gas industry.

California Rep. Katie Porter is known for her hard-hitting style. In her first two years in Congress, she grilled bank executives as a member of the powerful House Financial Services Committee. Now, as chair of the Natural Resources Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, she's doing the same to oil executives. 

A Senate committee vote Thursday brought Deb Haaland one step closer to becoming the nation's next Interior secretary. If she's confirmed she'll face myriad big decisions, including whether to move the Bureau of Land Management headquarters from Colorado back to Washington, D.C.

The Senate confirmation hearing for Deb Haaland, nominated to lead the Interior Department, began Tuesday. If confirmed, she'll be the nation's first Indigenous cabinet secretary and oversee federal public lands management and tribal affairs.

The House Natural Resources Committee is one of the most powerful congressional bodies when it comes to managing the West's public lands. But the committee's first meeting of the year devolved into an argument over guns. 

The Biden administration is considering an increase in royalty rates on oil, gas and coal development on public lands for the first time in more than a century.

 


The Mountain West is home to dozens of far-right extremist groups. In the wake of the U.S. Capitol riots on January 6, lawmakers are mulling how to protect the nation from domestic terrorism. Some have pushed for Congress to create a new domestic terrorism charge.

 

But this week 135 civil rights organizations came out in opposition to expanding terrorism-related legal authority.

This is the first story in the Mountain West News Bureau series "Elevated Risk," a project powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Last summer, parks and streets across the country filled with the sound of violins. They were played by people protesting the death of 23-year-old violinist Elijah McClain. The young black man was walking home from a convenience store in Aurora, Colo. when he was stopped by the police after someone called saying he looked "sketchy."

This is the fourth story in the Mountain West News Bureau series "Elevated Risk," a project powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Moses Lake is a hard-scrabble, working-class community out in the dry, flat scablands of eastern Washington. Ywhna Bin Wahid is taking me on a tour downtown.


Last summer, I met up with Ben Barto outside the small town of Dubois, Wyo. He's a huge Trump supporter and we were having a conversation about where he thought America was headed. 

"Revolution," he said. "I think it's headed there."

A newly elected congresswoman from Colorado says she’ll carry a handgun on Capitol Hill.

 


The U.S. saw its highest number of COVID-19 deaths this week. Meanwhile, in Montana, the newly elected governor is planning to rescind its statewide mask order.

 


Despite a drop in confirmed COVID-19 cases across the Mountain West last week, public health officials are warning folks not to breathe a sigh of relief.

"Here [in Utah] a lot of the facilities that were doing testing were closed completely on Thanksgiving," said Utah Department of Health spokesperson Charla Haley. "I think that had a big impact on the smaller numbers of people testing positive as well as people just being tested in general."

As the pandemic surges across the nation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday advised against families and friends gathering for Thanksgiving. But there is one potentially safe way to see relatives and celebrate the holiday – camping.

The vaccine developed by the pharmaceutical company Moderna may be easier to distribute in the rural West, according to regional public health experts.

It can survive up to a month in a freezer, is shipped in small doses, and it doesn't need a special, ultra-cold freezer to survive – unlike the vaccine developed by the company Pfizer.


Going to a bar tonight in Boise, Idaho or Reno, Nev.?

There's about a 50-50 chance someone carrying COVID-19 will be there too.

 


Democrats once again lost ground in much of the rural West. That includes Montana, where Republicans swept the election for the first time in at least two decades. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., will soon be the lone progressive holding federal office in the state. He's also the only working farmer in the U.S. Senate and author of a new book, Grounded: A Senator's Lessons On Winning Back Rural America. He spoke about lessons learned from November's election with reporter Nate Hegyi of the Mountain West News Bureau.

While President Donald Trump's accusations of widespread voter fraud are based on no evidence, they are gaining some traction in the region. 

Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., is asking his supporters via text to help fund the president's legal fight, saying, "Dems are stealing the election." 

Montana has long prided itself as a purple state, handing wins to both Democrats and Republicans over the past few decades. 

But on Tuesday night, conservatives won every key race in the state, nabbing a hotly contested U.S. Senate seat, Montana's lone congressional seat, and the governorship.

For months it appeared that the Mountain West had COVID-19 somewhat under control. But now the positivity rate is skyrocketing in Wyoming, Idaho, Montana and Utah.

"I feel despair," says Christine Porter, an associate professor of public health at the University of Wyoming.

Nate Hegyi, rural reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau, is embarking on a 900-mile cycling trip crisscrossing the continental divide in August and September, interviewing and listening to Americans ahead of the 2020 election. You can follow along on social media, an online blog and this "Where Is He Now?" map.

Nate Hegyi, rural reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau, is embarking on a 900-mile cycling trip crisscrossing the continental divide in August and September, interviewing and listening to Americans ahead of the 2020 election. You can follow along on social media, an online blog and this "Where Is He Now?" map.

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