environment

A large pile of rubbish sits only a stone's throw away from a sign that says "No Dumping Allowed."
Paul Boger / KUNR Public Radio

Love it or hate it, Burning Man has become an institution in Northern Nevada. The annual counter-culture festival in the Black Rock Desert draws tens of thousands of tourists every year, bolstering the area's economy and arts scene. However, critics are concerned about the amount of trash and refuse left behind. KUNR's Paul Boger took a look around town to see the trash post-burn.

Electric, dockless scooters are showing up across the region, especially in bigger cities like Denver and Salt Lake City. But a new study suggests they may not be as environmentally friendly as you think.

For the first time ever, a congressional committee held a field hearing on the climate crisis. And it happened this week right here in the Mountain West — in Boulder, Colorado. 

High Wild Horse Numbers Have Ranchers Concerned

Jul 24, 2019
A band of wild horses lopes in the distance on public lands in Butte Valley.
Kathleen Masterson / KUNR

For decades, ranchers and wild horse advocates have traded barbs. Yet now that Nevada’s wild horse population has reached an all-time high, most agree that some herds have too many horses. The eastern side of the state in particular has thousands more horses than the Bureau of Land Management says the area can sustain, and many ranchers say the horses are overgrazing, which is costing them big.

 

 

 

 

A volunteer with a darting gun used to treat horses with fertility control walks toward a band.
Kathleen Masterson / KUNR

Wild horses roaming in the Virginia Range made national news when they were photographed on the campus of the Tesla Gigafactory. Though the photos are idyllic, the state says there are currently about 2,500 more horses than the land can sustain. Because this population is more accustomed to humans, that actually makes it a good place to try fertility control for managing the herd.  

Nevada Wild Horse Population Skyrockets To New High

Jul 22, 2019
Kathleen Masterson / KUNR

Nevada’s wild horse population has exploded to an all-time high of more than 43,000 horses. That’s 60 percent of all the wild horses roaming the West — and it’s nearly quadruple the 12,800 equids the Bureau of Land Management says that Nevada’s land can sustain. There's long been controversy over just how to manage wild horses in the West, and some would say the result has been no management at all.

Sage and wildflowers bloom along a section of rangeland in Northern Nevada.
Paul Boger / KUNR Public Radio

As fire season begins to ramp up across the American West, firefighters in Nevada will have more money this year to battle those blazes. That's due, in part, to new legislation passed by lawmakers during the 2019 session, but that's one of the many environmentally-related bills to come out of the legislature. KUNR's Paul Boger spoke with Daniel Rothberg with the Nevada Independent to break it all down.

two firefighters hold hose in front of blaze
Unsplash

Firefighters work in high-stress, high-stakes environments, constantly making choices in the face of cascading uncertainty. They’re putting their lives on the line and taking into consideration everything that’s in the path of a blaze, including people, property, animals, and even environmental resources, like water.

men running toward helicopter in flight
Kathleen Masterson

Nevada’s bighorn sheep are under threat from disease. To grow the population, biologists have been relocating sheep to new habitat. The bighorn are captured with a net gun, then airlifted by helicopter, medically evaluated, and then driven to their new mountain home. KUNR’s Kathleen Masterson recently attended a relocation in Northern Nevada and she talked about her reporting experience with Bree Zender.

two bighorn sheep dangle from helicoptor
Kathleen Masterson

Nevada’s state animal has been afflicted by disease for more than a century. The die-offs began when European settlers brought over domestic sheep that carried a bacteria that causes pneumonia in wild sheep. But in recent decades, Nevada’s bighorn population has been slowly rebounding, thanks in large part to efforts by conservationists. Much of the success comes from relocating healthy animals to good habitat to start a new herd. 

Kathleen Masterson / KUNR

Across the globe, more and more people are buying electric cars. That has spurred the need for lithium, which is used to make the car batteries. Financial analysts project that demand will double between 2015 and 2025.

All this has driven the Canadian-owned company Lithium Nevada to go after a massive deposit in Northern Nevada. 

An aerial shot of the Camp Fire in Paradise, California.
NASA

A recent climate change report finds wildfires will only grow more destructive and longer lasting. In fact wildfires could burn up to six times more forest area annually by 2050 in parts of the U.S. Even before this climate report, UNR's Graham Kent has been working on expanding the footprint of his Alert Wildfire System to tackle this rapidly growing problem.

Courtesy Kirk Peterson / Friends of Nevada Wilderness

Washoe County drafted a resolution that would remove more than 350,000 acres from wilderness study areas. If passed, then the approximate 550 square miles would revert to Bureau of Land Management open space. That would open up the land for various potential activities, such as mining and energy transmission. 

Some environmental groups are concerned that key habitat and archeological sites would be put at risk. KUNR's Kathleen Masterson reports. 

Paul Boger

2017 was the hottest year on record for most of Northern Nevada. And while the warmer weather has created complications across the region, nowhere may be as impacted as Lake Tahoe. The delicate ecosystem of the continent’s largest alpine lake has been under assault for decades from invasive species, algae growth and decreasing clarity. But area leaders are now concerned that wildfires may pose an even greater threat to the lake.

KUNR Goes to Fly Geyser

May 2, 2018
image of fly geyser
Joey Lovato

The infamous Fly Geyser, situated on the private land north of Gerlach, has been closed to the public for nearly two decades. But now, the land's new owners – the Burning Man Project – are opening the geyser for public viewing. Reporters Joey Lovato and Bree Zender got a rare chance to check out the Geyser. Take a virtual road trip to see the landmark that has been popular for nature photographers but rarely seen by the public.

Nonprofit Beautifies Reno's Riverwalk

Nov 22, 2017
Frankie Wenson

Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful is an environmental non-profit, and its members recently planted 10,000 flower bulbs in downtown Reno. Our student contributor Frankie Wenson visited the crews and had this audio postcard. 

More than 80 people came out early on a chilly, Saturday morning to beautify the city’s Riverwalk. I talked to program manager Matthew Salazar, volunteer Jeff Bidwell and director Lindsay Panton on why they came. 

Using Ultraviolet Light To Kill Invasive Species At Tahoe

Jul 21, 2017
Courtesy of Inventive Resources

Engineers have been testing out a new method for killing off invasive aquatic plants in Lake Tahoe using ultraviolet light — and the results are promising. Our contributor Annie Conway of the Northern Nevada Business Weekly reports.

parks.nv.gov

Governor Brian Sandoval has announced his proposal to create two new state parks, including the Walker River State Recreation Area. Reno Public Radio's Michelle Billman explores what this could mean for Lyon County.

For the first time in generations, this park would provide public access to more than 12,000 acres of ranch land, specifically 28 miles of the East Walker River. The area is home to deer, mountain lions, and sage grouse, and it's filled with juniper and pinyon trees.

Trevor Bexon / Flickr, CC BY 2.0

A federal water bill that includes $415 million for Lake Tahoe restoration passed Congress late last week, and is now on President Barack Obama’s desk.

Reno Public Radio’s Noah Glick reports.

Airwolfhound / CC BY-SA 2.0

A national conservation group has been collecting petition signatures in Nevada encouraging President Obama to permanently ban uranium mining in areas surrounding Grand Canyon National Park.  Reno Public Radio’s Steve Shadley spoke to an environmentalist who fears mining could contaminate Colorado River water that’s sent downstream to millions of people south of Las Vegas.

Pages