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 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. Stephanie Serrano is the KUNR reporter for this partnership.

On the heels of a federal judge’s ruling to fully restore DACA, advocates in the Mountain West are hearing from an outpouring of young people hoping to apply for the first time.

Adriel Orozco, an immigration attorney and executive director of the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center, says the majority of calls his law office is receiving are from potential first-time applicants.

He says the ruling brings some measure of relief after the uncertainty of the past few years, which have caused “heartache for our community.”

Anti-mask and anti-lockdown protesters are targeting public health officials and politicians in parts of the Mountain West – sometimes at their own homes.


Marnie Miller Blevins was 49-years-old and a long-time nurse in Garfield County. Friends and family remember her for always joking around with those she loved.

DeAnn Brown first met Blevins through their jobs at Garfield Memorial Hospital in Panguitch, and they grew to be good friends.

People really enjoyed her because she could just kind of get away with saying things to people that nobody else would probably dare say,” Brown, who is a nurse administrator at the hospital, said. “She had a real fun personality, and people really enjoyed her.”

Karen Snyder has never been afraid to use her voice. She learned that from the women who raised her on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming.

"I come from a very long line of strong women. Grandmothers, mothers, a very strong line of women that are very outspoken," Snyder said.

That came in handy in 2016, when she was elected as one of two women on the six-person Eastern Shoshone Business Council.

Exterior of a Baptist church with gothic-inspired architecture.
Steven Martin / Flickr Creative Commons

New Mexico and Colorado put limitations in place back in the spring and summer, respectively. And Nevada recently tightened its capacity restrictions even further to 25%. 

Soil scientists huddled together in a forest listening to an instructor.
InciWeb

Governors across the West are asking for federal support to ensure that wildfire restoration becomes a priority, just like wildfire suppression and mitigation efforts.

States only have a few weeks left to spend federal COVID-19 relief funds, which is spurring lawmakers around the Mountain West to pass major aid deals now.


On Dec. 10, the first COVID-19 vaccine will be evaluated by a Food and Drug Administration advisory group, made of external vaccine experts. They'll say - in a public meeting - whether they think the FDA should give emergency use authorization for the vaccine developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, and why.


An illustration of a person's hand holding a cell phone displaying a virus like symbol with communication signals coming out
kebox / Adobe Stock

COVID-19 contact tracers continue to be in short supply. That’s especially true for bilingual ones.

Despite a drop in confirmed COVID-19 cases across the Mountain West last week, public health officials are warning folks not to breathe a sigh of relief.

"Here [in Utah] a lot of the facilities that were doing testing were closed completely on Thanksgiving," said Utah Department of Health spokesperson Charla Haley. "I think that had a big impact on the smaller numbers of people testing positive as well as people just being tested in general."


When Willow Belden goes holiday shopping she likes to support local businesses. This year, though, it's meant calling stores and asking, "Are you guys wearing masks? But are you really wearing masks? And, like, what else are you doing?"

The Mountain West is facing a hospitalization crisis, and even states that cracked down early are feeling the effects of those that didn't.

In Washington State, the frustration is palpable.


An illustration of different medical professionals.
elenabsl / Adobe Stock

Nevada recently hosted its annual rural health conference, with a particular focus on infrastructure as COVID-19 continues to ravage rural America.

Amid America’s racial reckoning spurred by the killing of George Floyd, a number of controversial historical monuments were torn down by protesters or removed by authorities this year, including some in the Mountain West.

As the pandemic surges across the nation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday advised against families and friends gathering for Thanksgiving. But there is one potentially safe way to see relatives and celebrate the holiday – camping.

The vaccine developed by the pharmaceutical company Moderna may be easier to distribute in the rural West, according to regional public health experts.

It can survive up to a month in a freezer, is shipped in small doses, and it doesn't need a special, ultra-cold freezer to survive – unlike the vaccine developed by the company Pfizer.


Hospitals continue to fill up across the Mountain West, and that means some patients may have nowhere to go.


The Interior Department is facing criticism for putting up barriers to conservation projects nationwide funded through the new Great American Outdoors Act.

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.

Back in 2018, the U.S. Geological Survey and several Western states formed the Corridor Mapping Team, a first-of-its-kind collaboration among state and federal wildlife biologists to map ungulate migrations.

Last week, the team published its first volume of maps, which document more than 40 big-game migration routes in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.

Pages