The Mountain West News Bureau is a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise 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.
Public lands have been in the news a lot this year. They
comprise much of the Mountain West, from around 30 percent of land in Montana and Colorado to more than 60 percent in Utah and Idaho. This summer, we’re taking you on a tour of some of our favorite public lands.
Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument has made headlines as
one of the monuments the Trump administration announced it would whittle down by more than a million acres each.
As the public radio show 1A has
reported, “It’s not clear if the executive orders the president has signed will improve access to the land or jeopardize it.”
Lots of people use public land for recreation, including those who practice an extreme sport called
canyoneering, which involves descending through narrow canyons using a variety of techniques from rappelling to scrambling to swimming.
We’ll take you on an audio adventure with one group of canyoneers as they descend through public land that treads the line between Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Utah.
Getting there requires a bone-shaking ride down
a dirt road dubbed Hole-in-the-Rock Road, after an expedition of Mormon settlers that used blasting powder and picks to cut a path down the cliffs for their carriages back when this area was one of the last blank spots on the contiguous U.S. map.
A sign at one trailhead leading to a number of slot canyons warns: “You are about to descend into wilderness frontier, a place that demands dependence on self.”
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a 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.
Rae Ellen Bichell is a reporter for NPR's Science Desk. She first came to NPR in 2013 as a Kroc fellow and has since reported Web and radio stories on biomedical research, global health, and basic science. She won a 2016 Michael E. DeBakey Journalism Award from the Foundation for Biomedical Research. After graduating from Yale University, she spent two years in Helsinki, Finland, as a freelance reporter and Fulbright grantee.
I cover the Rocky Mountain West, with a focus on land and water management, growth in the expanding west, issues facing the rural west, and western culture and heritage. I joined KUNC in January 2018 as part of a new regional collaboration between stations in Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming. Please send along your thoughts/ideas/questions!