Ali Budner | KUER 90.1

Ali Budner

Ali Budner is KRCC's reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau, a journalism collaborative that unites six stations across the Mountain West, including stations in Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, and Montana to better serve the people of the region.  The project focuses its reporting on topic areas including issues of land and water, growth, politics, and Western culture and heritage.

Ali came to KRCC from the San Francisco Bay Area, where her award-winning reporting covered the state of California on a range of topics from health and the environment to homelessness and immigration. Her resume includes work with The Kitchen Sisters, KPFA radio in Berkeley, California, and KALW radio in San Francisco, where she served as a managing producer for the daily live public affairs call-in show, "Your Call."

Ali also reported and co-produced an hour-long documentary, "The Race To An Emergency," about the 9-1-1 emergency response system in Oakland, California.  It received several national awards, including the Edward R. Murrow award for best radio news documentary in a large market. Her reporting has appeared on PRI's The World, NPR's Latino USA, and WHYY's The Pulse, among other prominent outlets. 

She is excited now to live in Colorado and report on issues important to the Rocky Mountain West.

 

  

 

As the Bureau of Land Management pilots a new livestock grazing initiative on public lands in six Western states, a conservation group is suing to get the agency to release more information about the program.

As thousands in Denver strike for climate action this week, they may notice conspicuous red and black dresses hanging up along a couple city blocks, intended to call strikers’ attention to the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and children.

For the second time this year, kids around the world are striking from school to demand action around climate change. And it’s happening just before world leaders gather at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York City. There were only a handful of strikes in our region last time but this time there are several dozen.

Our region is leading the way on training helicopter pilots to fight fires at night.  There are costs and hazards involved but the move could also help firefighters get the most threatening blazes under control more quickly.

You might not know it but there’s a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture whose job includes killing wild animals – to the tune of millions each year.  It used to be called Animal Damage Control. Now it’s simply called Wildlife Services. Depending on who you talk to, the agency is controversial and secretive or, well-managed and essential.

A congressional watchdog agency has decided that the Interior Department broke the law by using entrance fees to keep national parks open during the government shutdown this past winter. 

Last month, the Trump administration said it would start deporting gravely ill immigrants here temporarily for medical care. This week, it backtracked a little. But 20 Attorneys General sent a letter to the administration saying they’re not satisfied. 

An archaeological dig in the Mountain West has unearthed several giant sites of Native American ruins. The dig is happening in advance of planned highway construction over the area.

Hundreds of men are hoping to sue the Boy Scouts of America over alleged sexual abuse. Many of those claims are coming out of Mormon communities because, until recently, the LDS church was a huge sponsor of the organization. 

It’s no secret that wildfires are getting worse in the West. They’re threatening lives, homes and ecosystems. And they are also threatening our already-precarious watersheds. It’s all becoming a vicious cycle  — especially for the drier parts of our region. 

Several utility companies in the West have announced they will institute power blackouts in areas with high fire risk when conditions are particularly bad. 

The last place you might expect to find a wolf is inside a public library, a place that doesn’t even allow pets in the door. 

But on an early summer day, Shaya, a so-called “wolf ambassador” was pacing the 4th floor of the downtown library in Pueblo, Colorado, surrounded by an enthusiastic crowd.

The Rocky Mountain region continues to face some of the highest suicide rates in the country. A recent panel of experts in Colorado addressed what they said was one of the biggest hurdles to mental health: social stigma. 

The Islamic Society of Colorado Springs meets in a one-story brick building in a residential neighborhood. No domes or minarets. No eye-level windows either.

The group's president, Kamel Elwazeir, says preparations for weekly prayer are key.

"We try to get in early on Friday just to inspect the building on the outside make sure everything is fine," he says. "Nothing has been broken into or nothing suspicious."

The backlog in U.S. immigration courts is now over 850,000 cases long. People can wait years for their hearings. And that can be a long time to pay for a lawyer and to make appearances in court. Both of these things can be much harder for immigrants living in rural and mountainous parts of the West.

New Zealanders just held a national memorial for the victims of the recent terror attacks there.  Muslim communities are still reeling from the tragedy – including here in the Mountain West.  


Soil erosion in the West is getting worse. And that’s creating more dust – which isn’t good for ecosystems, human health or the economy.

A new study out of our region shows that when more women are involved in group-decision making about natural resources, conservation gets a boost.

A bacterial infection that infects Canada geese called "new duck disease" has turned up in the Mountain West.

Last year the nation was shocked when a 9-year-old Colorado boy took his own life. A recent report says youth suicide is a public health crisis in Colorado and the numbers in the Mountain West as a whole are staggering, with some of the highest rates in the nation. At the same time, there’s a significant shortage of mental health professionals -- at crisis levels in some communities. Often, it’s mental health workers in schools who work on the front lines of this crisis.

The 2019 State of the Rockies report says 70 percent of western voters identify as "outdoor enthusiasts." The annual bipartisan poll surveys how voters across the Mountain West feel about public lands, water, wildlife, and energy expansion. 

The Mountain West has some of the fastest aging populations in the country, which could have some serious implications for the region's economy. 

Suicide is currently the second leading cause of death for adolescents in the country. And in the Mountain West, youth suicide rates are double, and in some cases triple, the national average. Now, a new study shows parents are often unaware that their kids are struggling.

The ski industry is an important economic driver in our region, but it's facing a lot of changes. Climate change, for one, is transforming ski resort leaders into activists and lobbyists.

The ski industry is one of the most important contributors to the economy in the Mountain West. And it's dealing with some pretty big changes right now. Probably the biggest one is climate. Winters are getting shorter and mountain resorts are having to adapt. 

The Mountain West region has the first airport in the country to pilot a new kind of security screening machine. The most obvious feature of Denver International’s new body scanner is that it allows travelers to keep their arms down at their sides while being scanned. 

The United States has a grim history when it comes to our indigenous people, from the multiple massacres of native men, women and children to Indian boarding schools where native children were taken from their families and in many cases physically and sexually abused. For the most part, this history isn’t taught in our public schools; neither is indigenous culture. But that’s changing, and the Mountain West is on board.

In the Mountain West, we love our rivers, our mountains, our forests, deserts and wildlife. They’re part of our economies, our lifestyles and our identity. But that very connection makes us vulnerable to a growing mental health problem -- climate anxiety.

Our region has an especially high rate of suicide. Now Colorado is taking a unique approach to deal with it, at least for kids. Attorney General, Cynthia Coffman, just allocated $2.8 million for a state-wide pediatric mental health initiative.

Vicki Christiansen was sworn in this morning as Chief of the U.S. Forest Service. She’s only the second female to serve in this role in its 113-year history.

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