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 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.

Some of the Mountain West's COVID-19 hotspots have been, and continue to be, areas with major ski resorts.


Janet Yellen is President Joe Biden's pick to be treasury secretary. And she's been a big proponent of a carbon tax.


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Rebecca Travers lives in Casper, Wyo. Until late last year, the 42-year-old had been working at a non-profit that helps volunteer organizations across the state.

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."

A Montana Family Speaks Out About Police Violence Against Indigenous People

Jan 16, 2021

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

Cole Stump was a Montanan, through and through. The 29-year-old citizen of the Chippewa-Cree Tribe was raised on the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation in the north-central part of the state and had family ties to the Fort Peck Reservation in the northeast corner. He was a loving father of five and a skilled ranch hand.

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

A windswept valley cuts through the heart of Lethbridge, Alberta, about an hour north of the border. That wind is what the small prairie city has long been known for. The local hockey team is called the Hurricanes.

But these days Lethbridge is known for something else too – crime. The city of 100,000 tops Canada's Crime Severity Index. And as the crime rate has risen, so has the police's use of force.

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.

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

Until recently, Logan Dailey was a deputy sheriff in rural Cherry County, Nebraska. But today, he's the managing editor and reporter for four rural news outlets and a farming business publication based in Wyoming.

The EPA is finalizing a rule that says it’ll prioritize science that publishes raw data to make policy decisions.


A love of apocalyptic horror films may have actually helped people mentally prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic. At least, that's according to research published this month in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.


 

Tribes in the Mountain West reached resolutions in two long standing environmental disputes this week. The victories for the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and the Navajo Nation could signal a shift toward accountability for corporate polluters operating on tribal lands.


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."

 

State lawmakers across the Mountain West are convening for legislative sessions that will focus largely on the fallout of the pandemic. But without significant precautions, statehouses could become hotbeds for COVID-19 spread.

Legislative sessions typically bring together hundreds of lawmakers, legislative staff, lobbyists, journalists, and members of the public. They travel to and from every corner of a given state and gather indoors, sometimes in cramped meeting spaces.

Credit: Greg Sanders / Inciweb

Whether you get the help you need after a wildfire may depend on how wealthy or White your neighborhood is, a new paper suggests.

When the COVID-19 vaccines become more widely available, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will partner with retail pharmacies such as Costco and Walgreen to help distribute them. But a new analysis of rural counties finds that as many as 750 counties don't have one of those pharmacies.

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

 


There are a lot of questions about why the pro-Trump mob was able to breach the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. One pertains to the National Guard: Where were they?


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.

 


Some of the largest and most deadly COVID-19 outbreaks have occurred in our country's prisons. The latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that incarcerated people be included in phase 1B of vaccine distribution. But most states in the Mountain West are breaking with that guidance.

Giving and full of light. That's how family and friends described May Bunjes. The 71-year-old community advocate died of COVID-19 in November. Now her family is using her death as a rallying cry.

In Weld County, Colorado – where officials have dismissed state health orders meant to slow the spread of COVID-19 – she was a court-appointed special advocate for abused children for more than 20 years.

The insurrection in the U.S. Capitol on January 6 stunned the nation and the world. Many lawmakers in the Mountain West played a role in this unprecedented moment in history – whether they have decried President Donald Trump's attempts to overturn a free and fair election or supported his baseless claims.

Prominent Republicans in the region including Sen. Mitt Romney from Utah and Rep. Liz Cheney in Wyoming have condemned the president's conspiracy theories.

Dulce Leyva is a bilingual contact tracer who lives in Reno, Nevada. Her job is to reach out to people who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and make sure they're self-isolating. And she tries to help them remember who they've been around and could have been exposed to the virus.

The Food Bank for Larimer County’s warehouse in Loveland looks like a factory assembly line. People are busy preparing and packing provisions for when the doors open in an hour.

"Cookies, protein bars, coffee – a little of everything," says volunteer Ruben Marez. "I kind of like to mix and match."

Every year Marez travels to volunteer with the Red Cross and help with disaster relief. This year, he decided he was needed close to home and began volunteering at the onset of the pandemic.

Avalanches in the Rocky Mountains killed four people late last week, three in Colorado and one in Wyoming. Drew Hardesty is with the Utah Avalanche Center. He says it's been a fairly dry early season for many states around the West.


Soon after she was elected as one of America's first Indigenous congresswomen in 2018, New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland paid a visit to her constituents at the Pueblo of Sandia, just outside of Albuquerque. 

"She came to the Pueblo for one of our feast days," said Stephine Poston, a tribal citizen and advocate for Native women leadership. "And the young girls, a couple of them were following her around and she stopped to talk to them. It was an amazing thing to see and witness." 

Poston said Haaland may as well have been a celebrity to those girls, but she didn't act like one. 

"She's just that person who will stop and see you," Poston said. 

And she said that's how Pueblo people, and Indigenous people across the country, have been feeling since Haaland was nominated to lead the Department of the Interior: Seen.

The Sony Handycam, of all things, foretold what may soon be a massive mine on public lands in Nevada.

In the early 1990s, the camcorder became the first product to use lithium-ion batteries commercially. Since then, the technology has been used to power our laptops, smartphones, and now electric vehicles and homes.

It's been a tough year for gas and oil prices, but solar power has seen steady growth during this pandemic year. 

USFWS

This week, the northern spotted owl and the monarch butterfly were denied protections under the Endangered Species Act, even though both animals qualify.

Panic buying has slowed down considerably since this spring, but one thing still lingering is higher demand for meat that's easier for people to cook themselves.


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