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.

The Interior Department is facing criticism for putting up barriers to conservation projects nationwide funded through the new Great American Outdoors Act.

The vaccine developed by the pharmaceutical company Moderna may be easier to distribute in the rural West, according to regional public health experts.

It can survive up to a month in a freezer, is shipped in small doses, and it doesn't need a special, ultra-cold freezer to survive – unlike the vaccine developed by the company Pfizer.


A voting machine company based in the Mountain West has become the center of an unfounded conspiracy theory propagated by the president intended to shed doubt on the presidential election.


Back in 2018, the U.S. Geological Survey and several Western states formed the Corridor Mapping Team, a first-of-its-kind collaboration among state and federal wildlife biologists to map ungulate migrations.

Last week, the team published its first volume of maps, which document more than 40 big-game migration routes in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.

Going to a bar tonight in Boise, Idaho or Reno, Nev.?

There's about a 50-50 chance someone carrying COVID-19 will be there too.

 


Democrats once again lost ground in much of the rural West. That includes Montana, where Republicans swept the election for the first time in at least two decades. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., will soon be the lone progressive holding federal office in the state. He's also the only working farmer in the U.S. Senate and author of a new book, Grounded: A Senator's Lessons On Winning Back Rural America. He spoke about lessons learned from November's election with reporter Nate Hegyi of the Mountain West News Bureau.


Vanessa Chavarriaga loves to be outside, whether it's floating down a river in the desert or ice skating on a frozen alpine lake. And when she posts photos of her adventures, she includes information about where exactly she was.

About a week before Election Day, as the Wind River Reservation was bracing for snow, Wyoming State Rep. Andi Clifford squeezed in some roadside campaigning outside of a community hall in Arapahoe.

"Normally we would've been inside," she said. "But we can't, so we're out here."

The reservation's public health orders prohibit large, indoor gatherings. So as Clifford seeks a second term representing Wind River, she and her team have been spending a lot of time outside in the cold.

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.

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