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.

Beef prices are on the rise while live cattle prices are falling. One reason for that is COVID-19 disrupting meat processing plants. There are more cattle and less product because some cows can’t get processed. But many suspect there's more to the story.


At the end of April, the national unemployment rate hit 14.7% – the highest rate since the Great Depression. On CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday, White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett predicted the rate will exceed 20% when the Department of Labor issues May's numbers.

Depending on the estimate, the U.S. needs between 100,000 and 300,000 contact tracers to help fight COVID-19. Some say these new jobs could be an opportunity for some of the millions of Americans who've been laid off or furloughed.

The rough map of Pacificorp's transmission expansion throughout the Mountain West
Pacificorp

A large western utility with customers in 10 western states including Wyoming is preparing to make its largest request for new renewable energy ever. It's a step towards executing its October 2019 Integrated Resource Plan.


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

It's Cinco de Mayo in Sandpoint, Idaho, and a downtown pub is giving away free meals to families in need. Not many people are out. A few are wearing masks. Outside the pub, a teenager is playing the Beatles' song "Yesterday" on his violin.

A recent study shows that humans have been living in a specific temperature "niche" for at least 6,000 years, but climate change could force billions of people to live in areas outside of the niche by 2070. That could be intolerably hot, even lethal, for many of them.  

Savannah Maher

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

For the past 140 years, the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes have both called the Wind River Valley home.

They didn't choose to share this reservation - and it's no secret that the two tribal governments don't always agree. But since the start of the pandemic, they've been on the same page about one thing.

As the pandemic decimates local budgets across the Mountain West, another threat looms large at local fire stations across the region: wildfires. That has lawmakers and firefighters demanding more federal support.

Communities across the globe are trying to understand what percent of their population has been exposed to COVID-19 by searching random samples of residents for antibodies against the virus. 


Sound Wave Events in Boise, Idaho, is usually busy with weddings and graduation parties this time of year. But with most gatherings now canceled, the business has pivoted to block parties.

"If you told me a month ago that we would be DJing out of the back of a truck I would not have believed you," said Sound Wave owner Kristin Cole.

Every state is wrestling with the tension between reopening economies and protecting communities from COVID-19. Some industries have remained open all along. There are the obvious ones, like grocery stores and hospitals. Then there are others, like mining.

Chris Descheemaeker ranches black angus, red angus cross with her family outside of Lewistown, Montana. The coronavirus pandemic, she says, comes after a few tough winters and an already tough market.


This week the governors of Colorado and Nevada joined West Coast states in something called the Western States Pact. Its stated aim is to bring together states with a “shared vision for modifying stay at home orders and fighting COVID-19.” 

The U.S. now has at least three such regional collaborations. 

Libraries across the Mountain West may be closed, but that doesn't mean librarians are idle. 

Many libraries these days have 3D printers. And that means anyone with a blueprint and the right ingredients can become mini manufacturers of, say, plastic face shields. 

The Mountain West News Bureau is taking questions from listeners across the region about the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have a question, email us at mountainwestnewsbureau@gmail.com or give us a call at 208-352-2079 and leave us a message. This service is powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Many big cities are seeing the number of COVID-19 cases fall, but rural counties are seeing the opposite, according to a new analysis by the Daily Yonder, a rural nonprofit news outlet.

 


Public Domain

Recent statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis interpreted by The Wall Street Journal show the downturn in the energy sector is affecting Mountain West states very differently.

This post was updated May 1 with additional information

It's World Immunization Week, but there's evidence that vaccinations are down as checkups get postponed or skipped due to worries about getting exposed to the new coronavirus.

More than a dozen football players from universities around the Mountain West are headed to the NFL. They were drafted over the weekend as a record number of fans tuned in.

The Mountain West News Bureau is taking questions from listeners across the region about the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have a question, email us at mountainwestnewsbureau@gmail.com or give us a call at 208-352-2079 and leave us a message. This service is powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

A National Wildlife Federation report published this week says new oil and gas leases on public lands could harm existing hunting economies in the West.


Neal Herbert / NPS


You might have seen it on social media - Italians on lockdown stepping out onto their balconies to sing together, or New Yorkers applauding health care workers at the same time each night.

In much of the West, snowpack levels have historically been one of the more reliable ways to determine whether a drought was coming. But a new study says climate change could soon make snowpack data much less reliable.


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

It's a sunny, spring afternoon and Holly Spriggs and her teenage son, Sawyer Michaud, are digging around in her giant garden outside of Lander, Wyo.

"We're working on planting some potatoes and onions before we get some moisture here," she says. 

Spriggs is having a great time, but Sawyer would rather be snowmobiling.

Testing is considered a major requirement on the path back to normal, and as the president has made clear, it's largely up to the states to find the way. Are states in the Mountain West up to the task? By multiple measures, Utah and New Mexico are leading the way, while other states are still lagging behind. 

Your Questions About COVID-19, Answered 

Our reporters are working hard to answer your questions about COVID-19. These responses are curated by the Mountain West News Bureau and our public media partners at America Amplified. (Updated 4/23/20)

The Mountain West News Bureau is taking questions from listeners across the region about the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have a question, email us at mountainwestnewsbureau@gmail.com or give us a call at 208-352-2079 and leave us a message. This service is powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

A federal report out this week shows that the Bureau of Land Management has more than halved the time spent reviewing oil and gas drilling permits, a reflection of how the agency's priorities have shifted under the Trump administration.

The Mountain West News Bureau is taking questions from listeners across the region about the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have a question, email us at mountainwestnewsbureau@gmail.com or give us a call at 208-352-2079 and leave us a message. This service is powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Hoan Nguyen lives in Salt Lake City and he's concerned his wife may be immunocompromised, making her more vulnerable to COVID-19. So Nguyen and his family have taken self-isolation very seriously.

Idaho State University has accepted more students for next year than it did for this year, but that doesn't mean it'll have more students enrolling.


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