Dan Boyce

Dan Boyce moved to the Inside Energy team at Rocky Mountain PBS in 2014, after five years of television and radio reporting in his home state of Montana. In his most recent role as Montana Public Radio’s Capitol Bureau Chief, Dan produced daily stories on state politics and government.

John Sellers / Loveland Ski Area

Areas all across the Mountain West, from Colorado's Front Range to Eastern Idaho, have seen their first real snowfall of the 2018-2019 season in the last week.

Dan Boyce

About 170 greater sage grouse gather on Wes McStay’s ranch in northwestern Colorado.  They're here to mate in an open field of recently-planted rye.

Biologists call such a gathering a lek, where male grouse perform an elaborate mating dance that involves inflating two yellow air sacs in their chests and then releasing the air with a bubbling pop. 

The national sage grouse coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service watches the spectacle, her gloved hands holding binoculars tightly to her face.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2015 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.mtpr.org.

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Arun Rath.

A Friday night at J Dub's Bar & Grill in Williston, N.D., begins and ends with multicolored flashing lights, thumping dance music and crowds of young men with money to spend.

"A lot of testosterone being thrown around in this town," says Nathan Kleyer, 24, a Williston native who's at J Dub's with some friends for a few drinks.

And he's seen it all over town, he says: "These scantily clad women walking in, and they will hop tables until they find a john to take them home."

He's seen it in bars, and he's even heard about it at a nearby chain restaurant, he says.

A red pickup rolls into a 1,000-acre pasture of dry grassland on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in northern Montana. Mark Azure, director of the reservation's fish and wildlife department, is out looking for buffalo when he spots about two dozen of the furry beasts gathering around a watering hole.

The animals are "grazing, wallowing, drinking, checking us out," Azure explains. He says the tribes have been working to see these bison here for years.

"This is their home, this is where they came from," he says.

A year ago, Montana opened the nation's first clinic for free primary healthcare services to its state government employees. The Helena, Mont., clinic was pitched as a way to improve overall employee health, but the idea has faced its fair share of political opposition.

A year later, the state says the clinic is already saving money.

Pamela Weitz, a 61-year-old state library technician, was skeptical about the place at first.