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 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.

Enoch Leung / flickr CC BY-SA 2.0


There's a lot to consider with schools reopening this fall. That's especially true for teachers and other staff members. Take Ken Hilton—he's a middle school counselor in Laramie, Wyoming. He also has a daughter going into the seventh grade. He says he's not sure what the best approach is. This piece was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau's Maggie Mullen and was made possible with the support of America Amplified.

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park is asking for the public's help in addressing its non-native mountain goat problem. The park announced Thursday, August 6, it is now accepting applications from qualified volunteers for a culling program. Culling is set to begin mid-September and wrap up by the middle of November.

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

The U.S. Census Bureau has announced it's ending the 2020 count a month early, a move that's likely to have a big impact on Indigenous communities in the West.

 


Jacob W. Frank / NPS

President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed the Great American Outdoors Act, a bipartisan bill being hailed as the biggest public lands and conservation legislation in a generation.

Yale School of Public Health researchers created a simulation: a hypothetical campus of 5,000 students where 10 are asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19. They found the safest way to reopen a campus like that was to enforce strict guidelines like distancing and mask-wearing. But that wasn't enough.


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

Tourism to Yellowstone and Glacier national parks is humming along this summer despite the pandemic, but it appears that out-of-staters are bringing more than just their money with them.

 


National parks in the Mountain West are seeing a surge in visitors. And while tourism can spell good news for struggling local economies, some are worried not only about spikes in COVID-19 cases but also added pressure on the landscape.

New leadership is cutting costs at the U.S. Postal Service in a way that's backing up mail around the country, and many are concerned that could impact mail-in ballots ahead of the election on November 3. In the Mountain West, how your ballot could be affected depends on where you live.


It all started at Dr. Sanjeev Arora's clinic in New Mexico.

"One Friday afternoon, 18 years ago, I walked into my clinic in Albuquerque to see a 42-year-old woman who had driven five hours with her two children," Arora said before a recent Senate committee hearing.


A vaccine against the virus behind COVID-19 offers the only certain return to normalcy. Even so, misinformation and conspiracy theories abound – and a vaccine hasn’t even been developed yet. It’s an issue people have been trying to combat for other vaccines that do exist. Colorado researchers are taking an interesting approach to bridge the gap.

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

For Dr. Lori Drumm, the trouble began after she cancelled a rodeo in rural Deer Lodge, Mont.

Democrats are pushing to turn the Senate blue this November, needing just four more seats to gain control of the chamber. Two key races are in the Mountain West.


Neal Herbert / NPS

In 2019, there wasn't a single human injury caused by a grizzly bear throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. But the number of injuries has already reached eight in 2020 - a new record for the first half of the year, as the Jackson Hole News&Guide reported last week.

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

Fake news and misinformation about the pandemic run rampant these days. One of the culprits is the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns more than a dozen popular television stations across the Mountain West.

 


Three visitors and two concessions employees at Yellowstone National Park have tested positive for COVID-19, the park reported on Tuesday.

"Some of these visitor cases had symptoms prior to entering the park," Superintendent Cam Sholly said in a statement. "If you have symptoms as your visit is approaching, do the responsible thing and don't come to the park. You end up putting our employees, health care providers, and other visitors at risk."

 


Meatpacking plants across the Mountain West and the country are under intense scrutiny as they continue to face COVID-19 outbreaks.


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

A physician based in Missoula, Mont., has a message for libertarian-minded skeptics of the pandemic – cowboy up and mask up.

 


Tami Peay's husband is incarcerated in a Utah state prison for an illegal drugs conviction, and she hasn't seen him in more than four months. She used to see him at least once a week. But that was before visitations were nixed due to COVID-19.

Nationally, the domestic abuse hotline has seen an uptick in calls since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and that trend is reflected across the Mountain West.

In Idaho, for example, the Women and Children's Alliance saw a 194% increase in calls to its domestic violence hotline in April, according to the group's communications director, Chris Davis.

The economy may be on life support due to COVID-19, but housing sales across the nation soared in June, according to a report released Wednesday from the National Association of Realtors. It found that housing sales jumped about 20% nationwide compared to sales in May – the largest single-month recovery since the organization began collecting data. 

The U.S. Census is underway, and many communities of color across the nation are vulnerable to being undercounted this year.

According to a new analysis from Headwaters Economics, more than 700,000 people of color are at risk of being undercounted in the Mountain West alone.

The president’s controversial nominee to head the Bureau of Land Management is facing renewed pushback from Western lawmakers.


A large group of outbreak specialists say there’s been a problematic silencing of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during this pandemic. 

COVID-19 cases are still increasing around the Mountain West, and wait times to get test results are getting longer for many.


This story is part of a collaboration between the Mountain West News Bureau and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Read about how a U.S. border town is responding to the shutdown here.

Paul Samycia started his fly fishing company two decades ago and has grown it into the largest in Fernie, British Columbia. But these days, Samycia's Elk River Guiding Company is adrift. 

Traditionally more than two-thirds of the company's clients are Americans, and with the border closed, Samycia says the season is almost a write-off.

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

The U.S.-Canada border crossing north of Eureka, Mont., is quiet these days. No buses or vans packed with mountain bikes and vacationing families. Just a single logging truck. 

"No traffic hardly at all," says David Clarke, owner of the First & Last Chance Bar and Duty Free Store.

Imagine if your state health department put out a press release specifically naming your family, and listing the number of your family members with COVID-19. 

That, says Ken Lucero, is exactly how it felt in April when New Mexico announced a coronavirus hotspot in his community, the Pueblo of Zia. 

The Department of Interior is proposing a rule change that could open the door for more private companies to operate within national parks.

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.

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