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.

Testing is considered a major requirement on the path back to normal, and as the president has made clear, it's largely up to the states to find the way. Are states in the Mountain West up to the task? By multiple measures, Utah and New Mexico are leading the way, while other states are still lagging behind. 

A federal report out this week shows that the Bureau of Land Management has more than halved the time spent reviewing oil and gas drilling permits, a reflection of how the agency's priorities have shifted under the Trump administration.

The Mountain West News Bureau is taking questions from listeners across the region about the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have a question, email us at mountainwestnewsbureau@gmail.com or give us a call at 208-352-2079 and leave us a message. This service is powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Hoan Nguyen lives in Salt Lake City and he's concerned his wife may be immunocompromised, making her more vulnerable to COVID-19. So Nguyen and his family have taken self-isolation very seriously.

As so many telecommuters, teachers, college students and children work and learn from home, there have been fears that the Internet wouldn't be up to the task. But so far, it seems to be largely coping with the increased traffic.


A new study in the journal Science says that human-driven climate change is pushing the American West into a megadrought, and into its driest period in more than 400 years.

 


There’s been too much oil on the market since well before the coronavirus outbreak. But a recent agreement to cut production won’t be enough to prevent states in the Mountain West from taking a big hit.

 


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

Shelby, Mont. is home to a lot of wheat and barley fields, a decent high school football team, and an Amtrak train that passes through town twice a day. It's a place where almost everyone knows everyone. 

"The people here are fantastic," says William Kiefer, CEO of the only hospital in the county that offers 24/7 emergency medical services. "There's a huge sense of community."

So when people began getting sick and even dying from COVID-19, it hit hard. 

There was the hiker who broke his leg, then refused to put on a mask before the alpine rescue team helped him down the mountain. There were the snowboarders and skiers packing together into cars to drive up to a closed ski area. Or the people howling at the full moon, over open flames.

Bruce Snelling, undersheriff with Clear Creek County in Colorado, said all of these incidents have happened in recent weeks. And until Saturday, there wasn’t too much he could do about it. But now, the county’s public health order lays out some harsh penalties for non-residents using county roads to get to the backcountry: a fine of up to $5,000 or up to 18 months in the county jail.  

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

Americans have faced world wars, economic recessions, and even other pandemics. Some people have lived through all three. I sought out senior citizens to see how the COVID-19 pandemic compares to other crises – and what we might be able to learn from them.

San Miguel County, Colorado, is one of few places in the world where testing has been offered to an entire community. As the Mountain West News Bureau has reported, a biomedical company is offering blood tests for free to all residents there over 8 years old. 

As the nation continues to lag behind on testing for the new coronavirus, Utah and New Mexico rank among the states that have administered the most tests per capita. 


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

On a recent rainy day in Rockville, Utah, cars roared down the highway as Dutch cyclists Marica van der Meer and Bas Baan huddled together underneath the awning of a post office, trying to fix a flat tire.

A new study has found that long-term air pollution increases COVID-19 mortality rates.

 


Most states have issued stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of COVID-19. Wyoming and Utah are two of the very few remaining without statewide orders.

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

Sitting at his desk within the small office of the Sandpoint Reader, a weekly newspaper in northern Idaho, publisher Ben Olson is exhausted. 

A few weeks ago, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak encouraged all nonessential businesses to close their doors. Then, a few days later, on March 20, he ordered them to do so.

“If your business is nonessential to providing sustenance and for the everyday safety, health and wellbeing of Nevadans, you must shut down,” Sisolak said.

But what’s an essential business? Beyond obvious ones such as hospitals and grocery stores, there’s no simple answer.

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