The Mountain West News Bureau

Matt Frank, Digital Editor, Missoula MT, Rae Bichell, Reporter Greeley CO, Nate Hegyi Reporter Salt Lake City UT, Kate Concannon Managing Editor, Seattle, WA Noah Glick Reporter, Reno, NV Ali Budner, Reporter, Colorado Springs CO, Maggie Mullen Reporter, Laramie WY and Amanda Peacher Reporter, Boise ID
Credit MATT BLOOM, KUNC

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 partnership is overseen by news directors in all participating stations and networks.

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.

Colorado is the latest state in the Mountain West to issue a mask requirement, joining Nevada and New Mexico. 

As the pandemic wears on, leaders across the country are looking at how to economically recover after the COVID-19 pandemic. Some in the Mountain West are calling for more outdoor recreation spending.

The move came without much warning. 

“We were stunned,” Dr. Christine Hahn, the Idaho State epidemiologist, told the radio show Idaho Matters


The coronavirus pandemic has forced small businesses to deal with a lot of challenges they don’t normally confront.

“We have dealt with everything from HR issues, what to do when there are employee furloughs that are required, how to navigate different loan assistance programs, says Tara Malek, with the Idaho law firm Smith + Malek. “We’ve even talked to folks about contracting issues that they have with vendors. How do they negotiate or deal with vendors if there’s no revenue coming in to business?” 


After 27 months of continual decline, the number of Americans falling behind on their mortgage payments is on the rise.

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Some communities in the Mountain West are again facing testing delays and shortages as the number of COVID-19 cases reach record highs across the country. 

Maggie Mullen


The first time Mark Ritchie and Leah Hardy laid eyes on their new camper, it was after they'd bought it.

"It was like, 'Oh my God, it's tiny.' Which was great," Ritchie said recently while standing outside their home in Laramie, Wyo. "It made me feel actually more confident dragging it around. Because when I see people with giant trailers, I go, 'Thank God that's not me.'"


How can congregations safely congregate, if at all?

Places of worship all across the country have been wrestling with the question since the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Lots of wildfire smoke in the summer can lead to more flu outbreaks in the winter, according to a recent study published in the peer-reviewed journal Environment International

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Nearly two-thirds of residents in the Mountain West believe Trump isn't doing a good job handling the pandemic, according to a survey from researchers at Harvard, Rutgers, Northeastern and Northwestern universities released Tuesday.

 



Dr. Bret Frey is an emergency room physician in Reno, Nevada, and he likens working in health care right now to fighting in a war. 

"I always thought that there was a good chance that World War III would happen in some form in my lifetime, I just didn't appreciate it was going to come in the form of a virus," Frey says.

The voting process has long disenfranchised Native American communities. With the COVID-19 pandemic and mail-in voting exacerbating the problem, U.S. senators in the Mountain West and across the country are asking the federal government to make sure voters in Indian Country can cast ballots come November.

Researchers have released a new guide for parents about how to keep their kids from being recruited by extremists online.

 

For some people of faith, gathering together is a central tenet of church. You bolster each other's beliefs, sing communally and feel the transcendence of the moment.

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

As Black Lives Matter rallies continue across the country, some counter protesters and militia members are giving new life to an old racist myth – that white Irish people were enslaved in the Americas just like Africans and Indigenous people.

 


Protests are unfolding across the country over the death of Elijah McClain at the hands of police in Aurora, Colo. Now, frustration is also building over local law enforcement’s use of force this past weekend at a vigil in Aurora honoring him — frustration that was visible at a city council meeting Tuesday night dedicated to the response. 

Tyler Quiring / Unsplash

As humans around the world have limited their movement during the coronavirus pandemic, some animals appear to be changing their behavior. Biologist Christian Rutz may have seen one small example for himself.

Between a global pandemic, the economic downtown and civil unrest across the country, Americans are facing high levels of stress and uncertainty, and many are turning to video games for relief.

This reporter happens to be one of them. But can these virtual experiences help in the real world?

As the country turned its attention toward the pandemic, something else was creeping into the Mountain West: drought conditions.

Dearfield, Colorado, is one of the last standing towns started by Black homesteaders in the Great Plains. Now, property in the ghost town has changed hands, ensuring that key sites will be protected.

This post was updated June 29, 2020 to include comments from Alexis Kalergis. 

A Colorado team says their work on a COVID-19 vaccine is progressing. Other vaccines are much further down the testing pipeline, but none have crossed the finish line yet. 

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

As Native American tribes across the country struggle to contain the coronavirus, the White House has pressured the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe to remove its COVID-19 checkpoints on highways in South Dakota, according to a recording of White House chief of staff Mark Meadows obtained by the Mountain West News Bureau. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the nation to figure out something it's tried to do for years: increase access to telehealth.

That’s true across the nation and in rural Western states like Idaho. 


Two-thirds of Americans think the federal government should be doing more to reduce the impacts of climate change, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.


This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Short-term vacation rental bookings are surging across the Mountain West, even as the region grapples with a growing number of coronavirus cases.

 


As the COVID-19 pandemic wears on, a new survey shows that depression is worsening across the nation and the Mountain West.


Utah Department of Health

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Colorado has been trending downward. Meanwhile, other states in the region are on the uptick.

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

A surge of out-of-staters are fleeing major cities and purchasing homes in Montana, Wyoming and other parts of the Mountain West, according to real estate agents.

 

"These out-of-state buyers are just coming in droves," said D.J. Smith, president of the Missoula Organization of Realtors. 

The Great American Outdoors Act has passed the Senate with solid bipartisan support – but bipartisan doesn’t mean unanimous. A group of 73 voted yes while 25 voted no, including all of the senators from public land-heavy Idaho, Wyoming and Utah.


Protests against racism and police brutality continue in Colorado, but there are many faces and voices that are missing. Here, four Colorado women who are Black activists and scholars share their thoughts on what this moment means to them. They’ve opted out of protests, due to health complications or because they’re participating in other ways. Scroll down for their full bios. 

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