Nate Hegyi | KUER 90.1

Nate Hegyi

Nate is UM School of Journalism reporter. He reads the news on Montana Public Radio three nights a week.

The Mountain West is a pretty conservative place. So when Democrats win here… it’s big news. And now two Democratic governors from the region are mulling a run for president.

Colorado’s John Hickenlooper and Montana’s Steve Bullock are both moderate progressives, both won in fairly conservative places, and both are kind of wonky.

“They’re not that person who can command a crowd,” Lee Banville, a political journalism professor at the University of Montana, says.

The ongoing trade war with China is feeling close to home these days. Mounting tariffs on outdoor recreation gear may hit the wallets of folks in the Mountain West who love going outside.

On Monday, the Trump administration announced $200 billion dollars worth of new tariffs on products from China.

“This is going to include backpacks, sport bags, leather ski gloves, bikes and some camping equipment,” Rich Harper, a trade analyst with the lobbying group Outdoor Industry Association, said.

The National Rifle Association has spent nearly $3 million so far in the 2018 election cycle. A big chunk of that change is centered on a race right here in the Mountain West.

Lyle St. Goddard, 56, is running along a dirt trail on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana.

"It takes me about a lap to loosen up," he says.

Being a hotshot is a young man's game and St. Goddard believes he's one of the oldest hotshot crew members in the country.

"I still can do it," he says. "I just got to keep in shape. I'll be okay."

St. Goddard supervises the Chief Mountain Hotshots, one of the big employers of young men and women on the reservation. They only hire Natives and they can promise good pay and the chance to travel all over the country.

A U.S. district court hearing Thursday could decide the fate of grizzly bears living around Yellowstone National Park.

You may not have noticed, but a few months ago the Trump Administration stopped using a century-old law to fine industries when birds are accidentally killed by oil spills, power lines or wind farms.

The head of Yellowstone National Park is leaving his post next month after the Trump administration forced him to either take a transfer to D.C. or retire early.

When our Mountain West News Bureau first broke that news in June, Superintendent Dan Wenk said he felt “abused” by the U.S. Interior Department.

But during a press conference Thursday, he mellowed his tone.

Record-breaking wildfires in California have prompted tweets from President Trump and U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. They blame the fires on “bad environmental laws,” too many dead or dying trees, and not enough logging.

According to The Spokesman-Review, residents in North Idaho are reportedly receiving anti-Semitic robocalls from a prominent neo-Nazi.

Yet another Indigenous woman has gone missing in the Mountain West.

Jermaine Charlo disappeared near a grocery store in Missoula, Montana last month. The 23-year-old is the 13th native woman to go missing in the state since January.

U.S. Senate committees will hold hearings this week on the Trump administration's plan to reorganize the government. It includes a department that manages millions of acres of public lands in our region.

6:30 a.m. is one of the best times to watch wildlife in Yellowstone National Park’s Lamar Valley.

Everything smells like sage. It’s really cold and there are a bunch of retirees staring through hire-powered telescopes at a lush, verdant hill.

Ranking U.S. House Democrats are calling for an ethics investigation into Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. They want to know more about a land deal between Zinke's family foundation and a real estate project with ties to the oil and gas giant Halliburton.

Ranking U.S. House Democrats are calling for an ethics investigation into Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. They want to know more about a land deal between Zinke’s family foundation and a real estate project with ties to the oil and gas giant Halliburton.


A new study published in Science magazine found that many of the world’s trout species are facing extinction due to climate change, overfishing and pollution.

A federal watchdog group said the U.S. Interior Department didn’t give an adequate reason for cancelling a study on the health impacts of coal mining last year.

The Trump administration is forcing the head of Yellowstone National Park out of his job. Dan Wenk said the National Park Service will replace him with a new superintendent this August.

Yellowstone National Park is moving forward with a plan to help create new herds of wild, genetically-pure bison across the country.

Wildfire season is ramping up across our region. There are all sorts of people involved in waiting, watching and fighting them -- people you might not expect. We’re profiling some of them in a series, Faces Behind The Fires.

Lyle St. Goddard, 56, is running along a dirt trail on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana.  

“It takes me about a lap to loosen up,” he said.

Being a hotshot is a young man’s game.

“I still can do it,” St. Goddard, one of the oldest crew members in the country, said. “I just got to keep in shape. I’ll be okay.”

Researchers at Idaho State University said they’ve lost a small amount of weapons-grade plutonium. Federal officials aren’t pleased.

While Colorado and Utah are prepping for a severe wildfire season this year, Montana, Wyoming and northern Idaho have been counting their lucky stars because all three states had a huge snowpack this season.

“We have the best snowpacks in the country,” said meteorologist Michael Richmond.

When all that snow melts, it’ll keep the forest wet and protected from fire.

However that doesn’t mean the region is free and clear.  Richmond said it may get hotter and drier than usual this summer. A lot of heat and no rain can dry out a forest within a week or two.

The U.S. Interior Department wants to repeal an Obama-era rule that reduces the burning of methane gas on federal lands. The public comment period on that plan ended April 23, 2018 and it looks like almost everybody thought it was a bad idea.


Mark Zuckerberg is on the hot seat this week. He’s testifying in front of Congress about Facebook user profiles being mined without permission.  

The data breach prompted a “Delete Facebook” movement that hasn’t really gained any traction.

That’s especially true in the Native American community, where Facebook is much more than sharing cat videos or keeping in touch with friends and family.  

The omnibus spending bill passed by Congress last month earmarked billions of dollars for fighting wildfires.  Many conservationists and politicians celebrated that change.

But the legislation also rolls rolls back some environmental protections and that has split the conservation community.

Over the past decade, the market for Mountain West coal has cooled. Renewables and natural gas in the U.S. are cheaper, stocks are tumbling and some coal companies are even teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.

Ranchers and farmers in the Mountain West ship a lot of products overseas to China. Now the Trump administration is expected to hit China with $60 billion dollars worth of annual tariffs.

Last year China opened its doors to U.S. beef for the first time in more than a decade.

Montana ranchers jumped at the opportunity. They signed a multi-million dollar deal with a large Chinese company to sell beef.

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Wednesday, an Interior Department advisory panel will propose changing how the government receives royalties from coal dug up on federal lands. But some critics are calling foul as panel members either come from the energy industry or energy-producing states.

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The vast majority of the nation’s oil and gas wells are located here in Mountain West. But a new report says once those wells run dry it could cost taxpayers billions of dollars to clean them up.

Family photos cover the walls of a ranch house in eastern Montana. There are pictures of a dad holding a baby and a son playing high school football.

That son, Juan Orozco, sits on a couch next to his mother. He says after his dad came home fromjail a few years ago he just wasn't the same.

"He has bad depression," he says. "He can't sleep, he doesn't want to eat."

On a windy and unseasonably warm winter day in Yellowstone National Park in Montana, spokeswoman Morgan Warthin stands in the middle of a massive, empty valley.

"Yellowstone is so big," she says. "Where do you begin to look?"

She is searching for any of the 52 bison that were set free from two holding pens in mid-January.

Authorities say the bison escaped after somebody used bolt cutters to open up a fence. They soon scattered across an area larger than Delaware, and officials have launched a criminal investigation to find out what happened.

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