Beau Baker | KUNR

Beau Baker

Mountain West News Bureau Reporter

Beau grew up listening to public radio on the Palouse. He is a former host, reporter, producer and engineer for Montana Public Radio in Missoula. As a reporter, he is interested in stories that address issues and perspectives unique to living in the West.

When not on the air, he is on a bicycle, eating or on the hunt for LPs.

Park visitors gather to watch the sunset at Delicate Arch in Arches National Park
National Park Service

Allegations of negligence are part of a $270 million wrongful death claim against the National Park Service after an accident in Utah’s Arches National Park earlier this year.

A syringe needle filling with a vaccine
Weyo / Adobe Stock

The news of a promising COVID-19 vaccine from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and the German company BioNTech is generating optimism this week.

But in the Mountain West, there will be significant challenges in storing and distributing this type of vaccine in rural areas.

Solar panels in Nevada desert
andreiorlov / Adobe Stock

The U.S. is now officially out of the Paris climate accord

Climate policy is mixed around the Mountain West, but many states are seeing action and a transition to renewable energy regardless of federal leadership. 

Bulldozer helps with firing operation
Inciweb

Scientists say the size and intensity of wildfires that we’re seeing today is alarming because it’s what they were predicting would happen 30 years down the road – not right now. 

Un letrero dirigiendo a un votante a las urnas de votación.
Shane Morris / Adobe Stock

Read in English.

Mientras se aproxima el día electoral, algunos estados en Mountain West se están preparando para una posible violencia e intimidación a los votantes, a raíz de la retórica del presidente Donald Trump.

President Trump standing at a podium during a rally in Bullhead, Arizona.
Still image from CSPAN video / CSPAN

President Donald Trump is finding ways to continue reaching voters in Nevada through rallies, even as COVID-19 cases climb and state restrictions limit crowds.

A pen rests on instructions for signature verification on a mail ballot
Darylann Elmi / Adobe Stock

Legal challenges and accusations of fraud are just a couple of the issues seeding doubt about a clear winner in the presidential race on Election Day. 

“My advice for voters this year is patience,” said Ken Miller, a political science professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Voters line up outside a polling station.
Shane Morris / Adobe Stock

As election day approaches, some states in the Mountain West are preparing for potential voter intimidation and violence following rhetoric from President Donald Trump.

A field of sugar beets ready for harvesting
Matauw / Adobe Stock

The sugar beet harvest is underway across the Mountain West.

It’s a big industry that depends on accurate weather forecasts and a reliable workforce – both impacted by COVID-19. 

An ominous smoke cloud fills the sky in Wyoming
Greg Sanders / InciWeb

Drought, wildfire and record-breaking heat are all part of the current climate landscape in the Mountain West. 

It’s a triple whammy that’s expected to continue into the coming months. 

Urban traffic at night in downtown Boise, Idaho
Alden Skeie / Unsplash

Amid the economic downturn, Idaho and Utah have some of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.

A globe sits on classroom desk with an open book
Frangofoto / Shutterstock

A recent report card on climate change education in public middle and high schools across the U.S. ranked Wyoming at the top of the class with a solid A. The rest of the Mountain West was mixed.

A U.S. map with drought monitor readings from October 6, 2020. The map displays extreme and exceptional drought throughout the west, with the most notable readings in Utah, Nevada and New Mexico.
Brian Fuchs / National Drought Mitigation Center

A few weeks ago, rancher Noah Brooks said what was troubling him most was the weather.

“The fact that it didn’t rain, June, July, August but maybe three times, that this community runs around cattle and feed and if we don’t get some rain, we’re in big big trouble, and I think that we’re drying out,” he said.

Brooks lives in Clark, Colorado. But the conditions he describes are persistent throughout the region.

InciWeb

A new study suggests smoke from wildfires is more dangerous than other air pollutants for asthma patients. 

Darren J. Bradley / Shutterstock

Two states in the Mountain West have some of the country’s highest unemployment rates, including Nevada, which tops the nation. 

A graphic showing a medical professional giving a patient a nasal swab used for COVID-19 testing.
Russell Tate / United Nations COVID-19 Response

Retailer CVS announced plans last week to double its COVID-19 drive-through test sites at locations across the U.S., including in two Mountain West states.

A water tower on top of a hill with leafless trees and a power line behind it.
Michael Cramer / Flickr Creative Commons

Senate Democrats are pushing the Federal Communications Commission to expedite progress on broadband connectivity in Native communities.