The Mountain West News Bureau

In addition to a full news department serving just Wyoming, Wyoming Public Media is a founding partner in the Mountain West News Bureau, a partnership of public media stations that serve the Rocky Mountain States of Wyoming, Colorado Idaho, Neveda, New Mexico, and Utah. Our mission is to tell stories about the people, places, and issues of the Rocky Mountain West.

Many of these stories and issues are regional and affect all people living in the Mountain West. From land and water management to growth in the expanding West to our unique culture and heritage, the Bureau addresses issues that define us as a region. Part of the Bureau's charge is to submit stories to NPR and other national and global distributors, thus sharing the Mountain West culture more broadly.

The Mountain West News Bureau is a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico with support from affiliate stations across the region.

The editor for the Mountain West News Bureau is Kate Concannon, a long-time NPR regional editor. Maggie Mullen is the lead Wyoming reporter for this partnership, with contributions from all Wyoming Public Media reporters.

The Mountain West News Bureau is supported in part by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Regional Journalism Center program. Matching or contributing donations for the support of this initiative or for general WPM reporting are welcome. For more information, contact Christina Kuzmych, Wyoming Public Media General Manager at ckuzmych@uwyo.edu.

The Biden administration will restore the White House Council on Native American Affairs, an interagency initiative that coordinates federal services and policies that impact tribal nations. The council was first launched under former President Obama, but went dark for most of the Trump years.

Courtesy photo from family

Samantha Frias met her husband, Alonso, back in 2003. It was at a Halloween party. Alonso wasn't dressed up, but Samantha wore a Morticia Adams costume. She said they were inseparable from the very start.


After more than three years, Vicky Chavez took her first steps of freedom outside the church that gave her sanctuary.

Chavez is an undocumented immigrant who fled political unrest and an abusive relationship in Honduras back in 2014. Her initial request for asylum was denied in January 2018.

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.


Tom Kuka has been ranching on the Blackfeet Reservation for nearly 30 years. His ranch is about 20 miles east of the Rocky Mountain Front, where jagged peaks meet sprawling prairie. And Kuka, like many on the front, unwillingly shares his ranch with grizzly bears.

"You just have to be aware all the time," Kuka said. "I've run into sows and cubs, but they've seen me first, but one day it might not be that way."

Federal health officials are recommending a “pause” in the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after six women who received it reported developing a rare blood clotting disorder.

Visitors have flocked to Western communities during the pandemic to soak in the region’s public lands. But how many visitors? While the National Park Service closely monitors visitation, national forests and the Bureau of Land Management lack an efficient and cost-effective way to measure foot traffic.

The U.S. hasn’t contained COVID-19, but all of these public health precautions have certainly done a number on the flu.

A conservation group in San Juan County is suing the Bureau of Land Management over tens of thousands of acres of public land it leased to oil and gas developers in 2018.

The land lies between Bears Ears and Hovenweep national monuments. The lawsuit claims drilling there could cause irreparable damage to cultural sites.

The White House recently announced that it would not create a federal “vaccine passport” requirement, or proof that you’ve gotten the COVID-19 vaccine. Even so, leaders in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Utah have rejected such requirements, using everything from denunciations to executive orders to planned legislation.


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 met with tribal leaders as well as Utah state leaders Wednesday in San Juan County to talk about Bears Ears National Monument. They toured the monument together Thursday morning.

New research published in the journal Nature Climate Change finds that snow is melting earlier – often in the winter. That’s a bad sign for the Mountain West. 


 

Last month, Deb Haaland made history as the first Indigenous person ever confirmed by the Senate to serve in a president's cabinet. In her first official trip as secretary of the Interior, she visited the Mountain West with a focus on tribal issues.

Amid a national rise in COVID-19 cases, Colorado is the latest Mountain West state to ease its mask mandate.

Democratic Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement issued April 2 that the loosening of a mask order is “a step toward the light at the end of the tunnel.” It eases restrictions for Colorado counties with low transmission rates. The change comes as the state opens up vaccinations to all people over 16.

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.

Heat waves induced by climate change will threaten future agricultural crops at a faster rate than gradual global warming, according to a new study published in the Journal of the European Economic Association. Steve Miller, a UC Boulder assistant professor of environmental studies, was a lead researcher in the study.

This week, federal officials issued dire warnings of a potential fourth wave of coronavirus cases and deaths if Americans let their guards down. President Joe Biden urged governors to maintain or reinstate mask mandates to ward off a surge.

Spring bird migration is underway and will continue in the Mountain West for the next few months. 


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. 

The pandemic prompted a ton of people who were stuck at home to explore the world of gardening for the first time, and an upcoming webinar series aims to cultivate even more budding backyard growers.

Parts of the Mountain West are still seeing snow and frost and sleet – but there's one sure sign that spring is actually here: the songs of migrating birds. 


Not enough jurors showed up for a trial last week in a case that could have implications for avalanche safety in the Mountain West.


This is the second in a two-part series about the vaccine rollout in Indian Country. Part one looks at the success of the rollout on rural reservations.

 

 

This is the first in a two-part series about the vaccine rollout in Indian Country. Part two looks at the challenges of vaccinating our region's urban Native population. 

 

It's been a traumatic year. The pandemic. Social justice protests in response to police brutality. An insurrection at the nation's capital. Now our nation is dealing with two mass shootings.

At least one extremism expert is sounding the alarm about far-right actors using the mass shooting at a Boulder King Soopers to sow division and propagate misinformation.

Eric Ward, executive director of Western States Center, which focuses on extremism movements, hate crimes, and ways to strengthen democracy, says far-right figures have weaponized the tragedy after reports emerged that the suspect is Muslim.

A new study shows that listening to nature could have significant health benefits.  


As health officials battle vaccine hesitancy and a reluctance to follow safety guidelines, they could turn to employers for help. 


Stephanie Joyce


The last time the state of Wyoming executed someone was in 1992.

"When that execution actually occurred, I felt it," said Sen. Cale Case. "And people all over Wyoming felt it, 'cause we were part of it."

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