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Mountain West News Bureau

Support for news stories from Mountain West News Bureau comes from Kalamaya – Goscha, a boutique mountain law firm specializing in family law, criminal law, and personal injury.

While there's an insect named after Lady Gaga, and a lichen named after former President Barack Obama, a lot of the time species get named after scientists - especially white men.

The Senate confirmation hearing for Deb Haaland, nominated to lead the Interior Department, began Tuesday. If confirmed, she'll be the nation's first Indigenous cabinet secretary and oversee federal public lands management and tribal affairs.

@potus via Twitter

The Biden administration reopened enrollment for the Affordable Care Act this week. But enrollment details aren't the same everywhere.

Most states are part of the federal health insurance exchange through the ACA. That means most uninsured people can now sign up on HealthCare.gov through May 15.

But some Mountain West states have their own exchanges, and their own ways to sign up.

In the Mountain West and across the country, states are rolling back COVID-19 restrictions like mask mandates and allowing more people to gather. While this was largely a response to reduced infection numbers, new strains of the virus are on the move.


Health Experts Urge Double-Masking As Coronavirus Mutates

Feb 16, 2021

As highly contagious coronavirus variants spread, health experts in the Mountain West and beyond are urging people to upgrade and double up their masks.

Gun sales have spiked during the pandemic, and retailers are running low on ammunition all around the country.


It's a Wednesday evening in December. Five o'clock means the end of my work day, and the start of Wampanoag language class.

"Wunee wunôq," my language teacher, Tracy Kelly, greets me as I join the Zoom call from my kitchen table in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

As the pandemic continues to slow down the court system around the U.S., the situation in Idaho stands out.


 

 

New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland is poised to become our nation's first Indigenous cabinet secretary. As some prominent Mountain West lawmakers oppose her confirmation to lead the U.S. Department of the Interior, many of their Indigenous constituents are pushing back.

The Biden administration is considering an increase in royalty rates on oil, gas and coal development on public lands for the first time in more than a century.

 


The number of hate and extremist groups declined last year, but that doesn’t mean the threat from these groups is diminishing.

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s annual report “The Year in Hate and Extremism” counted 838 active hate groups in 2020, an 11% decline from the previous year. Despite a decrease in the number of hate groups, the report notes that overall they are still at “historic highs.”

Three known members of anti-government group the Oath Keepers were the first to be charged with conspiring to commit violence after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. 

But this group didn't start in Washington, D.C. or somewhere else on the East Coast. Rather, Elmer Stewart Rhodes created the Oath Keepers in Montana in 2009. 


 

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden ordered a temporary suspension of new leasing and permitting for oil and gas development on public lands. But the order will not apply to tribal lands.

Colorado Congresswoman Lauren Boebert stunned political observers last summer when she beat five-term incumbent Congressman Scott Tipton in the Republican primary.

"She was able to pull off an upset that, by the way, had not been done in Colorado since 1972," said Dick Wadhams, a former chair of the Colorado Republican Party. He points out that Boebert's opponent was endorsed by former President Donald Trump. So how did she pull it off?

"A lot of it was style," Wadhams said.

The U.S. Federal Reserve has created its first committee to research the financial risks posed by climate change.


As soon as President Joe Biden stepped foot in the White House, he signed numerous executive orders, including one that calls on Congress to pass the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021.

Some of the Mountain West's COVID-19 hotspots have been, and continue to be, areas with major ski resorts.


Janet Yellen is President Joe Biden's pick to be treasury secretary. And she's been a big proponent of a carbon tax.



Rebecca Travers lives in Casper, Wyo. Until late last year, the 42-year-old had been working at a non-profit that helps volunteer organizations across the state.

This is the fifth story in the Mountain West News Bureau series "Elevated Risk," a project powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Until recently, Logan Dailey was a deputy sheriff in rural Cherry County, Nebraska. But today, he's the managing editor and reporter for four rural news outlets and a farming business publication based in Wyoming.

This is the fourth story in the Mountain West News Bureau series "Elevated Risk," a project powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Moses Lake is a hard-scrabble, working-class community out in the dry, flat scablands of eastern Washington. Ywhna Bin Wahid is taking me on a tour downtown.

This is the third story in the Mountain West News Bureau series "Elevated Risk," a project powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

A windswept valley cuts through the heart of Lethbridge, Alberta, about an hour north of the border. That wind is what the small prairie city has long been known for. The local hockey team is called the Hurricanes.

But these days Lethbridge is known for something else too – crime. The city of 100,000 tops Canada's Crime Severity Index. And as the crime rate has risen, so has the police's use of force.

This is the second story in the Mountain West News Bureau series "Elevated Risk," a project powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Cole Stump was a Montanan, through and through. The 29-year-old citizen of the Chippewa-Cree Tribe was raised on the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation in the north-central part of the state and had family ties to the Fort Peck Reservation in the northeast corner. He was a loving father of five and a skilled ranch hand.

This is the first story in the Mountain West News Bureau series "Elevated Risk," a project powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Last summer, parks and streets across the country filled with the sound of violins. They were played by people protesting the death of 23-year-old violinist Elijah McClain. The young black man was walking home from a convenience store in Aurora, Colo. when he was stopped by the police after someone called saying he looked "sketchy."

Matthew Frank / Mountain West News Bureau

The insurrection in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 stunned the nation and the world. Many lawmakers in the Mountain West played a role in this unprecedented moment in history – whether they have decried President Donald Trump's attempts to overturn a free and fair election or supported his baseless claims.

Prominent Republicans in the region including Sen. Mitt Romney from Utah and Rep. Liz Cheney in Wyoming have condemned the president's conspiracy theories.

Lauren Boebert for Congress

Updated 1:50 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 10

A newly elected congresswoman from Colorado says she’ll carry a handgun on Capitol Hill.

"Even though I now live in one of the most liberal cities in America, I refuse to give up my rights – especially my Second Amendment rights," said Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., in a slickly produced video posted to Twitter Sunday.

Courtesy Nevada Public Health

Dulce Leyva is a bilingual contact tracer who lives in Reno, Nevada. Her job is to reach out to people who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and make sure they're self-isolating. And she tries to help them remember who they've been around and could have been exposed to the virus.

 

The Food Bank for Larimer County’s warehouse in Loveland looks like a factory assembly line. People are busy preparing and packing provisions for when the doors open in an hour.

"Cookies, protein bars, coffee – a little of everything," says volunteer Ruben Marez. "I kind of like to mix and match."

Every year Marez travels to volunteer with the Red Cross and help with disaster relief. This year, he decided he was needed close to home and began volunteering at the onset of the pandemic.

The Sony Handycam, of all things, foretold what may soon be a massive mine on public lands in Nevada.

In the early 1990s, the camcorder became the first product to use lithium-ion batteries commercially. Since then, the technology has been used to power our laptops, smartphones, and now electric vehicles and homes.


Soon after she was elected as one of America's first Indigenous congresswomen in 2018, New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland paid a visit to her constituents at the Pueblo of Sandia, just outside of Albuquerque. 

"She came to the Pueblo for one of our feast days," said Stephine Poston, a tribal citizen and advocate for Native women leadership. "And the young girls, a couple of them were following her around and she stopped to talk to them. It was an amazing thing to see and witness." 

Poston said Haaland may as well have been a celebrity to those girls, but she didn't act like one. 

"She's just that person who will stop and see you," Poston said. 

And she said that's how Pueblo people, and Indigenous people across the country, have been feeling since Haaland was nominated to lead the Department of the Interior: Seen.

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