Mountain West News Bureau

KUNR Public Radio is a proud partner in the Mountain West News Bureau, a partnership of public media stations that serve Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. The mission is to tell stories about the people, places and issues of the Mountain West. 

Contributing stations include 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.

The editor for the Mountain West News Bureau is Kate Concannon, a long-time NPR regional editor. Noah Glick is the KUNR reporter for this partnership.

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. 

Extremism experts say a fast-growing network of far-right activists could threaten the Mountain West and beyond. It’s called the People’s Rights network and, according to a new report, it includes anti-maskers, militia members and conspiracy theorists.


A new study adds to the growing evidence that cities with more undocumented immigrants don’t see more crime because of them.



Here's a scenario you may have found yourself in recently: You open up Facebook or Twitter, and someone you know is posting about a conspiracy theory. You wonder, Do I say something? Is there any convincing them otherwise?

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.

The Tri-County Health Department in Colorado is a marriage between three counties. But after 55 years together, the pandemic has them on the brink of divorce.

The relationship started with a devastating flood. Lora Thomas remembers it vividly.

“I remember sitting on Ruby Hill in Denver watching this wall of water coming down the Platte River,” said Thomas. “There were actually horses in that water that had come from a racetrack.”

A man in a black shirt and gray shorts stands next to a sign for the Nevada and Washoe County Democratic Party Headquarters as he waits in line to pick up a yard sign supporting Democrats on the ballot in Washoe County.
Paul Boger / KUNR

Campaigning in a normal election year can be difficult even for the most seasoned politicians. But campaigning during a pandemic adds a host of new challenges. The biggest might be how does a candidate connect with voters safely.

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.

Firefighters have long studied how fires behave to figure out where they’re going and how to keep people safe. But wildfires are becoming more unpredictable.


A dispatcher says someone was reportedly walking around a house when the owners were away on vacation. An update says that person appears to be holding a gun.


Antigen testing is expected to become a more common way to test for COVID-19. It looks for the virus’ surface coating, rather than pieces of its genetic material. It’s faster and easier to administer than other tests.


When Joyce Farbe saw how many cars were parked at the Iron Creek Trailhead when she pulled in, she knew it would be a busy day. It was a warm, late summer morning, and her destination – Sawtooth Lake – is one of the most popular day hikes in Central Idaho. Cars were spilling out of the parking lot and lined the dirt road for a quarter mile. Farbe tightened her boot laces and pulled her backpack onto her shoulders. Before she could get going, her work began: She approached two men as they printed their name on a wilderness permit at the trailhead. 

A bipartisan group of Western lawmakers have signed onto a new federal bill that aims to reduce the damages of wildfire.


Winter is coming, and COVID-19 is still here. That means socializing is about to get harder as temperatures drop and activities move indoors.

One potential tactic is to form something called a “social bubble,” also known as a “pandemic pod” or a “quaranteam.” The gist is to join forces with another family, or small group of people, and socialize exclusively with them while maintaining a safe distance from others.

For months it appeared that the Mountain West had COVID-19 somewhat under control. But now the positivity rate is skyrocketing in Wyoming, Idaho, Montana and Utah.

"I feel despair," says Christine Porter, an associate professor of public health at the University of Wyoming.

Large numbers of migratory birds have reportedly dropped dead in New Mexico and Colorado.

There’s still confusion over the deaths, like how many died and what exactly killed them. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service believes the bird deaths in Colorado and New Mexico were caused by an unusual cold front.


Could Japan Offer Lessons For Mountain West Contact Tracers?

Sep 29, 2020

Over the past few months, a number of Japanese health officials have praised their country’s contact tracing approach, saying it’s one of the “secrets” to their early success in containing COVID-19.

Colorado regulators are now requiring oil and gas operators to monitor fracking emissions earlier and more often, and provide that data to local governments. Both industry officials and regulators supported the move. But concerns persist, like the fact that the rules allow oil and gas operators to choose how to monitor their own emissions. Regardless, environmental groups see Colorado as a leader in emission monitoring in the region and hope other states follow suit.

InciWeb

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

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