Mountain West News Bureau | KUNR

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 and Wyoming. The mission is to tell stories about the people, places and issues of the Mountain West. 

Contributing stations include KUNR in Nevada, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, Nevada Public Radio, the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana and Wyoming Public Media, 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.

A new survey shows that the majority of people around the Mountain West are worried about the health of our democracy.

Commissioned by the Frank Church Institute at Boise State University, research firm Morning Consult surveyed nearly 1,900 people total from Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.

The Hidden Valley south of Las Vegas is an open, dry stretch of desert scrub and craggy, beige mountains. It’s public land. For some, it might look like a landscape from the movie Dune. But Kyle Roerink, executive director of the Great Basin Water Network, sees it as part of an iconic, and fragile, ecosystem.

“We are looking out at a beautiful tract of the Mojave Desert,” he says.

Roerink says it's vital that this swath of land is protected. It's adjacent to the Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area and home to threatened species.

It’s mid-morning at Gwendolyn Woolley Elementary School in North Las Vegas and principal Joseph Uy is walking the hallways. He greets kids and is wearing a mask with a picture of the school mascot on it – a woolly mammoth. He’s a jolly guy and he puts on a good face for his students and staff. But behind the scenes he’s exhausted.

“Honestly, I’m tired,” Uy says.

News brief

Unseasonable wildfires fueled by high winds over dry ground resulted in two deaths in the Mountain West this week.

NGOs help light prescribed fires on public lands

Nov 15, 2021

Federal agencies aim to conduct more prescribed burns in the years ahead to reduce fuels that feed extreme wildfires and restore landscapes that depend on fire. But with so many of their resources used to protect communities from fires, private organizations are stepping in to help.

That includes the Idaho branch of the Nature Conservancy. The nonprofit partnered with the U.S. Forest Service and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and, in October, sent its own five-person team out to the Caribou-Targhee National Forest.

Despite the Biden administration’s promise to reduce carbon emissions, a new federal report shows oil, gas and coal production in the U.S. is increasing. The U.S. Energy Information Administration says the rise is expected to last for at least another year and it’s fueled, in part, by high energy prices and extreme temperatures.

Illegal drugs packaged in brown paper, tape and plastic wrap are stacked on a table bearing the logo of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Courtesy U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration

Sheriff’s deputies in Washoe County, Nev., responded to two fentanyl overdoses in a 12-hour span earlier this month.

News Brief 

New research published in the journal Ecology is the first to use GPS-tracking data to look into the effects of wildfire smoke on bird migrations. But researchers say the study was a lucky accident.

"It was really a stroke of luck, a lot of things had to happen, all at the right time, in order for us to see this," said Cory Overton, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and lead author of the paper.

News Brief

Racial disparities are deeply pronounced in state prisons across the nation – and some Western states top the list.

A new report from the Sentencing Project shows Montana and Idaho have some of the highest rates of Black incarceration. Idaho also has one of the highest incarceration rates of Latinx people, along with Wyoming and Colorado.

News brief

Camping on public lands in the West has skyrocketed in recent years, according to a new analysis from the conservation nonprofit Center for Western Priorities.

News brief

The family of human-made chemicals known as PFAS are in all kinds of household products, including rain jackets and nonstick pans, but they also turn up in industrial products, such as firefighting foam. They stick around for a very long time - which is why they're often referred to as "forever chemicals" - including in the human body, and they can cause health problems. And there may be a disproportionate amount of them in the Mountain West.

Charles Sams is on track to become the nation’s first Indigenous leader of the National Park Service after facing lawmakers this week during a committee hearing.

A pink figure on the left side of a teeter-totter has fewer gold coins than a blue figure on the right.
Andrii Zastrozhnov / Adobe Stock

An annual report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the gender wage gap in the United States held steady during the pandemic, with women working full-time jobs only making, on average, 82.3% of what their male counterparts do.

A wide-angle image of an examination room. There are multicolored floor tiles, medical equipment to the right, and an exam table and storage cabinets lining the left wall.
Courtesy Brin Reynolds / UNR Med

For the last three years, the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine has been sending its recent graduates to the Elko Family Medical and Dental Center, a single-story brick building that serves a county whose total population is less than 54,000 people.

News brief

A Pew Research analysis of census data shows that growth in U.S. households during the last decade slowed to its lowest pace in history.

The researchers found that during the 2010s, there was only a 9% growth in occupied households, or about 10 million more. It’s the lowest rate in recorded U.S. history and the lowest number of new households since the 50s.

News brief

When Navajo Nation saw its first cases of COVID-19 in March 2020, Jourdan Bennett-Begaye started a spreadsheet. She's the managing editor of Indian Country Today, and the spreadsheet was a way to track coronavirus cases across Indigenous communities. At the time, that data was incomplete.

Monday was Indigenous People’s Day: a day to celebrate Native American history, resilience and sovereignty and recognize the continuing legacy of colonization.

For some institutions, that can mean acknowledging that its land once belonged to Native peoples, but experts say some well-intentioned statements can actually do harm.

That's why the Association of Indigenous Anthropologists wants a hiatus of “land acknowledgements.”

News Brief

Many American towns and metropolises have initiated unions with international locales – “sister cities,” where citizens travel to each others' hometowns and build cultural bridges. Rarely have local leaders considered such an arrangement with tribal nations, until now.

Longmont, Colo., and the Northern Arapaho Tribe recently became sister cities — a partnership for which tribal leaders hold high hopes. For one, they say it could offer Indigenous youth a window into life outside the reservation.

Despite being scooped on his own announcement Thursday afternoon by Utah elected officials, President Joe Biden has officially restored Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments to at least their originally designated boundaries. Biden also restored protections for the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument off the coast of New England.

News brief

Home care workers in Nevada petitioned the state government Tuesday to help improve pay and other benefits.

“We deserve a livable wage,” says Safiyyah Abdulrahim, a caregiver in Las Vegas.