Mountain West News | KUER 90.1

Mountain West News

The Mountain West News Bureau is a journalism collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana,  KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

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.

Our region has attracted the attention of the Terminator.

“I’m right now on a campaign to terminate gerrymandering,” said Arnold Schwarzenegger in a video from Budapest, where he’s shooting his latest film.  

Schwarzenegger is raising money for efforts in four states, including two in the Mountain West, to end the political practice.

We hear about gerrymandering a lot these days, but not necessarily an explanation for what it is. It’s complicated, but not impossible to explain.

iStock

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came out in cautious support of medical marijuana last month but now says the legislature should decide how it’s legalized in Utah, not the voters in a citizen’s initiative this November.

The National Park Service is giving museums and universities across the country grants to return ancestral artifacts and human remains taken from Native American tribes over the years.

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.

An outbreak of an untreatable viral disease in horses is being blamed on one horse from Colorado. Other horses across the country may have been exposed.    

If you’re poor and you get really sick in Idaho, your health care options might be really different than say, if you live in Colorado or Montana.

 


Warmer temperatures across the region from climate change are making insect pests hungrier. That’s according to a new study published in the journal Science.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife just announced they’ve discovered a species of cutthroat trout previously thought to be extinct. They also said the species was threatened again this summer.

Walking through forests across the Mountain West, you might not realize you’re walking past historical artifacts big enough to crush you. These artifacts are pine and cedar trees that have had their bark peeled off in a special way. The trees are a bit of a mystery to archaeologists, and one they’re running out of time to solve.

A federal appeals court is siding with several homeless people in Boise who have sued the city for prosecuting them for sleeping outside.


Utah Fire Info / Twitter

A series of small forest fires that started this week in northern Utah and southern Wyoming are being investigated as arsons.

It's no secret that water is a problem in the West. Historically, the humble beaver helped maintain wetlands and ponds across the arid landscape but their populations were decimated during the fur trade and their numbers dropped dramatically from 400 million to just 100,000 by the turn of the twentieth century. But Canada's national animal is making a comeback and scientists think they have an important role to play as our region fights drought.

The Trump Administration has finally nominated a director for the National Park Service. The new director will manage a public lands system facing record-breaking visitation and $11 billion in maintenance backlog.

 


Football season kicks off soon with the sport still mired in controversy over whether players should stand for the national anthem. A new NFL policy that would force them to do that is now in limbo while the league negotiates with its players. But the underlying debate over whether political protest belongs on the football field is a familiar story to the University of Wyoming.

A new study reveals how much water the U.S. uses in energy production. The answer is a lot – 58 trillion gallons. The data breakdown may be critical information for the Mountain West, where energy industries are big, but water can be scarce.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has released more details about his plan to reorganize the Department of Interior. The plan could have big impacts for public lands in the west.

 


Colorado is called “the mother of  rivers” for a reason: it’s one of the most popular states for river rafting in the country.  But like the rest of our region, unprecedented growth, a changing climate, drought, and wildfires are taking their toll on this multi-million-dollar industry.

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

A new report out of Idaho shows the number of children without a permanent roof over their heads is increasing.  This trend is mirrored across much of the Mountain West. 

Western firefighters were working the biggest wildfire in California’s history when they encountered a surprising obstacle: slow internet.

Erik Neumann / KUER

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) may be the most successful, and little-known, conservation program. That obscurity could contribute to it's downfall. 

With wildfires burning through much of the West, there’s high demand for big aircraft to come in and battle the flames from above.

marijuana in a prescription pill bottle.
iStock / thegoodphoto

Representatives from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are becoming more active in their opposition to a medical marijuana initiative in Utah this November.

The Trump administration announced a new rule on greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants, called the ‘Affordable Clean Energy Rule.’ It would put regulatory power in states’ hands.

The Obama administration had previously tried to enact something called the Clean Power Plan, which was considered the country’s primary strategy for lowering emissions to meet its 2030 target under the Paris climate agreement.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported record drug overdose numbers in 2017, but a handful of states saw a decrease last year including here in the Mountain West.

People for and against abortion rights are watching what happens with President Trump’s nominee to fill an empty seat on the Supreme Court.

Anti-abortion groups including March for Life and National Right to Life Committee have commended the president’s choice, Brett Kavanaugh, whose Senate confirmation hearings are set to begin in early September. Abortion-rights advocates worry that adding a perceived conservative justice like Kavanaugh will tip the court’s scales when it comes to views on abortion, opening up the possibility that a 1973 Supreme Court case protecting that right might be overturned.

Over the last 30 years, the West has seen an uptick in the size and frequency of forest fires. Scientists have typically attributed the change to low snowpack and high summer temperatures. But researchers writing in the journal PNAS say the trend could have more to do with rain.

Researchers pulled up maps of forest wildfires from 1979 to 2016 and compared those maps against data on snow, rain, temperature and humidity.

Erik Neumann / KUER


Measles is making a comeback in the U.S. as more parents choose not to vaccinate their children. The childhood disease is a major killer in much of the developing world, but now the public health community is trying to re-educate families about the importance of childhood vaccinations. That includes a new program in Utah.

Pages