The Mountain West News Bureau

Left to right: 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

The Mountain West News Bureau is 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 MediaBoise 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.

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.

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?” 


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

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


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

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


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.

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. 

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. 


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.'"

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.

 


There’s significant evidence that the novel coronavirus can spread through tiny particles that linger in the air. Thanks to a University of Colorado chemistry professor, now there’s a free tool to measure those risks.

Millions of Americans have been relocated due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a recent survey from the Pew Research Center.

The survey, conducted in early June, shows that 22% of Americans either have moved or know someone who has because of the pandemic. That translates to more than 72 million people.


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.

 

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.

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.

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?

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

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.

 


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.

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. 

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.

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

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. 


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. 

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.

 


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