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.

The coronavirus pandemic has led to a national shortage of personal protection equipment for medical personnel such as face masks and gowns, and crafters are lending a hand.

 


An image of the inside of the Westgate Resorts Superbook.
Westgate Resorts

The COVID-19 pandemic is now threatening the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, following a number of high-profile sporting events that have already been postponed or canceled. These cancelations have some sportsbooks looking for different things to bet on.

San Miguel County in Colorado announced this week it plans to test everyone in the county for COVID-19. And they’ll be using a blood test rather than the usual nose-and-throat swabs. 

The test typically being used at this point involves a method called PCR, which looks for pieces of the virus’ RNA in a person’s nose and throat. It only shows if someone is actively fighting and shedding the virus.

The National Congress of American Indians warned reporters in a press conference Friday that COVID-19 is a “recipe for a disaster” for tribal nations. 

An image of customers checking out at a grocery store.
Paul Boger / KUNR Public Radio

Walk into many grocery stores these days, and you’ll see two things: crowds and empty shelves. You may also notice narrow aisles and checkout lines that make it hard to practice the social distancing recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While many businesses are shutting down to help stop the spread of COVID-19, grocery stores don’t have that luxury. And grocery workers like cashiers don’t make that much - at most, around $15 an hour. But like health care workers, they’re considered essential.

Amid the COVID-19 epidemic, blood drives on campuses and corporate offices across the Mountain West have been cancelled. That's led to a "severe blood shortage."

The Interior Department has announced it’s temporarily waiving entrance fees for recreation areas, national monuments and national parks. Secretary David Bernhardt said he wanted to make it easier for people to recreate on public lands.

An image of the Las Vegas strip with a storm cloud looming overhead.
Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing federal, state and local governments to take drastic measures. And in Nevada, Gov. Steve Sisolak did something never done before: he ordered all casinos in the state to shut down for 30 days.

This story is powered by America Amplified, a public radio consortium.

Beer is big business in the Mountain West.

As the graph below shows, the number of COVID-19 cases reported by public health agencies in the Mountain West is climbing. But what do those numbers actually say? 

An image of a basketball game with a large crowd.
University of Nevada, Reno

COVID-19 is halting sports events around the country. The National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League and Major League Soccer are all suspended. And March Madness is canceled.

That’s affecting one industry particularly hard: sports betting.

New federal guidelines say it's OK to haze a grizzly bear-even with a paintball gun.

A new government watchdog report published Wednesday says taxpayers are shouldering the burden of cleaning up the nation’s thousands of abandoned hardrock mines on public lands.

An image of a dusty parcel of land showing crops completely dried out from drought.
NOAA

Researchers in our region are arguing for new models to better plan for a recent climate phenomenon: flash droughts. According to a new paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change, these events present new challenges for climate predictors.

Our station will increase engagement journalism efforts this year by partnering with other public radio stations and collaborating networks in a regional reporting initiative called America Amplified: Election 2020.

An image of a train hauling large pipes to be used for oil and gas pipelines.
Nate Hegyi / KUER

The deadline is tonight to submit public comment on sweeping changes to one of the nation’s bedrock environmental laws.

An image showing a large, overpass made of dirt that allows widlife to cross Interstate-80 in eastern Nevada.
Nevada Department of Transportation

In today’s partisan political climate, one thing most Westerners seem to agree on is the need to protect wildlife corridors.

Wildlife corridors are historic wildlife migration routes. And sometimes, those routes need protecting. It could be as simple as restoring some native species, or it could involve building a grassy overpass over a busy highway.

The Bureau of Land Management’s plan to move its headquarters out west is costing the agency around half the employees asked to make the move, according to a new report from federal watchdog Government Accountability Office.


New Report Spotlights The Rural West’s Connectivity Gap 

A report published this week by the National Association of Counties found that more than 75% of rural counties had internet and cellular connections that fell well below minimum government standards. The problem is especially acute in the Mountain West. For the most part, only wealthy enclaves like Jackson, Wyoming, have good broadband, the study’s connectivity maps show.

Wild mushroom foragers in the Mountain West may soon have a new and easy way to tell if their pickings are poisonous. 

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