Mountain West | KUNR

Mountain West

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.

News brief

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

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.

An image of an all-electric bus
Courtesy / RTC Washoe

Here are the local news headlines for the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021.

An image of a campground overlooking the Sierra Nevada range
Jesse Pluim / Bureau of Land Management

Here are the local news headlines for the morning of Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday in a complicated groundwater case that could have implications for the Mountain West.

The case involves Mississippi alleging that Tennessee is unlawfully taking water from an aquifer that runs beneath both states. It’s also seeking $600 million in damages.

An image of a member from Sparks Fire administering a COVID-19 vaccine.
Lucia Starbuck / KUNR Public Radio

Here are the local news headlines for the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021.

An image of the Tiehm's Buckwheat
Noah Glick / KUNR Public Radio

Here are the local news headlines for the morning of Monday, Oct. 4, 2021.

An image of Senator Catherine Cortez Masto
Screenshot

Here are the local news headlines for the morning of Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021.

A plane is flying over part of the Richard Spring Fire while dropping retardant. The sky is filled with smoke, casting a sepia tone over the image. There are several small structures surrounded by trees toward the bottom of the composition.
Courtesy of Phil Millett / InciWeb

A new report on wildfire risk uses demographic data to highlight counties around the West that may be especially vulnerable.

An image of scientists working in a lab
Courtesy National Renewable Energy Laboratory / U.S. Dept. of Energy

Here are the local news headlines for the morning of Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect Idaho's decision on Thursday to expand "crisis standards of care" statewide.

A couple of weeks ago, Ed Crosby’s brother-in-law suffered a bad fall in North Idaho. He was airlifted to the region’s biggest hospital, the 330-bed Kootenai Health in Coeur D’Alene. He needed intensive care, but when he got there he had to wait.

Higher elevations like mountain tops usually have more moisture, and fires historically hadn’t burned there very often. But that’s changing rapidly.

The Dixie and Caldor fires in California are the first and second wildfires ever recorded to cross the Sierra Nevada crest and burn down the other side, according to Boise State University researcher Moji Sadegh.

Sadegh said fire managers used to let fires moving up mountain sides burn because they’d eventually reach an area wet enough that they stop progressing.

An image of UNR President Brian Sandoval wearing a mask while standing outside with other faculty members.
Courtesy / University of Nevada, Reno

Here are the local news headlines for the morning of Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021.

Two disposable, blue face masks are placed on top of each other.
Tierney / Adobe Stock

Here are the local news headlines for the morning of Monday, Sept. 13, 2021.

An image of a bright orange sun sitting ominously in a dark afternoon sky. The silhouette of a hill with trees on it is visible as a black mass.
Paul Boger / KUNR Public Radio

Here are the local news headlines for the morning of Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021.

Alex Hernandez is talking over Zoom about how hot her apartment in Denver is. But she's not there, because it's too hot. She's across the street at Finley's, where there's air conditioning - and cold beer.

"It's a pub, super teeny weeny, but it's super cute," she says.

This is Alex Hernandez's first summer living in Denver. She moved in the spring from Wyoming, and one of the biggest adjustments has been dealing with the heat.

"I feel like it's just, like, a matter of strategy," she says. "Like you're planning your whole life around these extreme temperatures."

Two Western cities registered the poorest air quality in the world over the last week as smoke from wildfires in northern California turned the skies over the Rocky Mountains into a chalky white abyss. On July 7, Denver’s air was the worst among international cities, according to IQAir.com. Salt Lake City was No. 1 the day prior.

University of Utah atmospheric scientist Derek Mallia says such pollution levels in these Mountain West cities is “unprecedented.”

Cases of the COVID delta variant are surging nationwide, prompting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week to issue new guidance for vaccinated people to mask up in areas with high transmission rates. But if infections continue to rise, some Western states have limited how officials can respond.

Idaho, Montana and Utah recently passed laws softening local or executive authority during a public health crisis.

News Brief

Low vaccination rates make many counties in the Mountain West especially vulnerable to the COVID-19 delta variant right now, according to data from the public health research group PHICOR. That’s prompting tough new action from some state and federal officials.

On Thursday, President Biden announced he’s asking all federal employees to “attest” to their vaccination status. Those who aren’t vaccinated will also need to submit to weekly testing and will be mostly banned from travel. There are roughly 160,000 federal employees living in the Mountain West.

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