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.

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Justin and his buddies look like they're from a special ops team – they're wearing flak jackets and carrying assault weapons. But they aren't military and they aren't police. 

"I see myself as a concerned citizen who happens to be armed," he says.

 


When I was little, my dad and I would walk behind our house in west-central Montana and stare at the ground. And then walk. Stare. Walk. Stare. We'd do this for hours, searching for that tasty, edible and highly prized morel mushroom.


The Mountain West News Bureau is talking to friends and relatives of those who lost their lives to COVID-19. This memorial is for 67-year-old Nancy Heitz who was likely the first person to die in an assisted living facility in Idaho.


An image of a protestor waving an upside-down American flag.
Chase Stevens / Las Vegas Review-Journal

Three Nevadans face terrorism-related charges after allegedly plotting to incite violence at recent protests in Las Vegas over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed while in police custody.

As employers continue to lay off workers at unprecedented levels, every state in the Mountain West has some kind of rent assistance program in place. Low-income housing advocates hope those programs, and their funding, can keep up with the ongoing need.

The inaugural #BlackBirdersWeek kicked off on Sunday. The virtual event came about in response to the racist incident in Central Park last week when a white woman called the police after a Black birder asked her to put her dog on a leash.

As the United States prepares for a general election complicated by the coronavirus pandemic, a new national survey finds that most Americans support making it easier to vote by mail in November.

 


Broken pavement on a path at Yellowstone National Park.
Jacob W. Frank / National Park Service

A bill to permanently fund conservation efforts and reduce maintenance backlogs across public lands will soon be up for a vote in the U.S. Senate.

Weekend protests drew crowds across the country including in the Mountain West, from hundreds in Boise and Reno to thousands in Denver. Some city leaders now worry such gatherings could lead to new outbreaks of COVID-19.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced Sunday that the city will be offering free tests to demonstrators. 

A family portrait with a man and his two daughters, one to each of his sides. They are hugging and smiling.
Courtesy of Luisa Frias

The Mountain West News Bureau is talking to friends and relatives of those who lost their lives to COVID-19.

Luis Frias was an international dancer who took his two daughters wherever he performed on tour. His eldest, Luisa, remembers playing on the beach in Australia and watching packed stadiums from the Superdome in New Orleans to Madison Square Garden.

A state-by-state chart showing the various preparedness levels for each state government.
Moody's Analytics

Forty-two states are not prepared for a pandemic-induced recession. That’s the finding of a recent analysis from Moody’s Analytics. In the Mountain West, the prognosis isn’t as bad as it might seem at first.

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

If you want a hearty breakfast in the small town of Thompson Falls, Montana, Minnie's Montana Cafe has you covered.

 


A graphic showing the U.S. Constitution and a Census questionnaire.
U.S. Census Bureau

The U.S. Census Bureau had just begun field operations when the coronavirus pandemic hit. Now, as the agency is preparing to restart, it’s focusing on rural and tribal communities.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a virtual town hall Tuesday that the reservation hit its peak number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and emergency room visits a few weeks early thanks to social distancing and mask-wearing.

 


Researchers in Utah are in the process of testing about 10,000 people for COVID-19 and antibodies against the virus that causes it.

“People have talked about how we see the tip of the iceberg with the formalized testing that we have,” said Dr. Stephen Alder, a professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of Utah and one of the project’s leaders. “We're trying to look at, ‘All right, how much of the iceberg is underwater?’ This is a good way to do that.”

This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

The number of U.S. airline passengers is creeping up as states begin to relax their stay-at-home orders, according to the latest data from the Transportation Security Administration.

Nursing home residents and workers account for about one-third of all coronavirus deaths in the U.S., as The New York Times reported last week. Testing every resident and worker could help slow the spread in nursing homes – but it's expensive.

A field of wind turbines.
Bureau of Land Management

The Bureau of Land Management is charging back-due rent on renewable energy projects on public lands, as the Department of Interior simultaneously works to give oil and gas operators financial relief.

Everyone knows that living in the Rockies can get expensive. Headwaters Economics wanted to know why. The non-profit published new research this week that examines what causes housing to become so expensive in places where outdoor recreation is a main economic driver.

A few weeks ago, Lesley Dickson, a psychiatrist in Las Vegas, says she started feeling concerned for the hospital workers treating COVID-19 patients. 

Pages