The Mountain West News Bureau

Left to right: Kate Concannon, Maggie Mullen, Madelyn Beck, Robyn Vincent, Matthew Frank, Savannah Maher, Stephanie Serrano-Escoto, Nate Hegyi, Amanda Peacher.

Boise State Public Radio is the founding partner of the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration of public media stations that serve the Rocky Mountain States of Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. Our mission is to tell stories about the people, places and issues of the Rocky Mountain West.

From land and water management to growth in the expanding West to our unique culture and heritage, we'll explore the issues that define us and the challenges we face.

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.

Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

After more than three years, Vicky Chavez took her first steps of freedom outside the church that gave her sanctuary.

Chavez is an undocumented immigrant who fled political unrest and an abusive relationship in Honduras back in 2014. Her initial request for asylum was denied in January 2018.

Wide open spaces, like much of Wyoming, are known to be strongholds for pollinators like butterflies. They often contain critical habitat and food resources, far away from the disturbance of human civilization. But it turns out even those areas are under threat.

Bob Wick / BLM

Last week, the Biden administration unveiled its budget plan for managing federal public lands, and it contains big funding increases that reflect the administration's priorities around conservation and climate change.

Visitors have flocked to Western communities during the pandemic to soak in the region’s public lands. But how many visitors? While the National Park Service closely monitors visitation, national forests and the Bureau of Land Management lack an efficient and cost-effective way to measure foot traffic.

NPS


Tom Kuka has been ranching on the Blackfeet Reservation for nearly 30 years. His ranch is about 20 miles east of the Rocky Mountain Front, where jagged peaks meet sprawling prairie. And Kuka, like many on the front, unwillingly shares his ranch with grizzly bears.

"You just have to be aware all the time," Kuka said. "I've run into sows and cubs, but they've seen me first, but one day it might not be that way."

The U.S. hasn’t contained COVID-19, but all of these public health precautions have certainly done a number on the flu.

A conservation group in San Juan County is suing the Bureau of Land Management over tens of thousands of acres of public land it leased to oil and gas developers in 2018.

The land lies between Bears Ears and Hovenweep national monuments. The lawsuit claims drilling there could cause irreparable damage to cultural sites.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland met with tribal leaders as well as Utah state leaders Wednesday in San Juan County to talk about Bears Ears National Monument. They toured the monument together Thursday morning.

Robert Avgustin / Shutterstock

The White House recently announced that it would not create a federal “vaccine passport” requirement, or proof that you’ve gotten the COVID-19 vaccine. Even so, leaders in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Utah have rejected such requirements, using everything from denunciations to executive orders to planned legislation.


Jacob W. Frank / NPS

As more Americans get vaccinated, they're finally preparing for long-delayed vacations. But if they want to visit some big-name national parks in the West, they may need a reservation.

 

Last month, Deb Haaland made history as the first Indigenous person ever confirmed by the Senate to serve in a president's cabinet. In her first official trip as secretary of the Interior, she visited the Mountain West with a focus on tribal issues.

Amid a national rise in COVID-19 cases, Colorado is the latest Mountain West state to ease its mask mandate.

Democratic Gov. Jared Polis said in a statement issued April 2 that the loosening of a mask order is “a step toward the light at the end of the tunnel.” It eases restrictions for Colorado counties with low transmission rates. The change comes as the state opens up vaccinations to all people over 16.

Heat waves induced by climate change will threaten future agricultural crops at a faster rate than gradual global warming, according to a new study published in the Journal of the European Economic Association. Steve Miller, a UC Boulder assistant professor of environmental studies, was a lead researcher in the study.

PhotoTrippingAmerica / Shutterstock

New research published in the journal Nature Climate Change finds that snow is melting earlier – often in the winter. That’s a bad sign for the Mountain West. 


Interior Department

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has created a new unit to confront the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous people, reflecting the first Native American Cabinet secretary's prioritization of the issue in leading an agency that once sought to "civilize or exterminate" Native people.

This week, federal officials issued dire warnings of a potential fourth wave of coronavirus cases and deaths if Americans let their guards down. President Joe Biden urged governors to maintain or reinstate mask mandates to ward off a surge.

Madelyn Beck / Mountain West News Bureau

Spring bird migration is underway and will continue in the Mountain West for the next few months. 


The pandemic prompted a ton of people who were stuck at home to explore the world of gardening for the first time, and an upcoming webinar series aims to cultivate even more budding backyard growers.

Taylor Berge / Shutterstock

Many oil, gas and coal-dependent communities around the Mountain West are concerned about the Biden administration's aggressive stance on climate change. But a recent survey of hundreds of economists around the world suggests that reducing emissions now will save us financially in the long run. 

Madelyn Beck / Mountain West News Bureau

Parts of the Mountain West are still seeing snow and frost and sleet – but there's one sure sign that spring is actually here: the songs of migrating birds. 

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