Mountain West News Bureau

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In Part 3 of Mountain West News Bureau's series on fentanyl, reporter Madelyn Beck takes a look at what tools are available to help slow fentanyl deaths.

courtesy Boise State Public Radio

In Part 2 of Mountain West News Bureau's series on fentanyl, Madelyn Beck reports on how the legal system is responding and the impacts of the death of a Carbondale man.

Madelyn Beck MWNB

Fatal drug overdoses are skyrocketing, driven by synthetic opioids like fentanyl. And the potentially deadly drug has made it to the region -- the last to face the brunt of the opioid crisis. Mountain West News Bureau’s Madelyn Beck explores the issue in the first of a three-part series. 


At least 19 people have died in tribal jails overseen by the federal government since 2016, according to an investigation by NPR and the Mountain West News Bureau. As part of our ongoing coverage of mistreatment of inmates on reservations, the bureau is highlighting some of the victims and the circumstances around their deaths, which reflect decades of mismanagement, neglect and poor training.

Just weeks into the summer season, extreme heat is suffocating parts of the Mountain West including areas already grappling with historic drought conditions.

Blistering temperatures from Nevada and Utah to Idaho and some parts of Colorado come on the heels of an analysis by the World Weather Attribution linking the recent heatwave in the Pacific Northwest to human-caused climate change.

Zoo Animals To Get COVID-19 Vaccine

Jul 8, 2021

Humans aren’t the only mammals that can contract COVID-19. That’s why a company called Zoetis is donating more than 11,000 doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to zoos, sanctuaries and conservatories around the U.S.

Last fall, as record-sized wildfires burned in the Mountain West and ash fell from the sky, Bryan Shuman, a professor at the University of Wyoming, found himself looking back through old notes and emails from his wildfire research of subalpine forests. What stood out to him was how quickly the conversations he and his colleagues had been having escalated.

He said it went from predicting an increase in wildfires in the high-elevation forests of Wyoming and Colorado in "a few decades" to, "Wow, we just broke 2,000 years of fire records."

Palestinian Diaspora Rallies in Denver

May 29, 2021
Robyn Vincent

With the recent violence in Palestine and Israel, the movement for Palestinian independence has new global momentum. Mountain West News Bureau’s Robyn Vincent spoke with advocates in the region.

We’ve heard a lot about wolf reintroduction in our region, but that’s not the only carnivore environmentalists want to bring back.

Wide open spaces, like much of Wyoming, are known to be strongholds for pollinators like butterflies. They often contain critical habitat and food resources, far away from the disturbance of human civilization. But it turns out even those areas are under threat.

Tom Kuka has been ranching on the Blackfeet Reservation for nearly 30 years. His ranch is about 20 miles east of the Rocky Mountain Front, where jagged peaks meet sprawling prairie. And Kuka, like many on the front, unwillingly shares his ranch with grizzly bears.

"You just have to be aware all the time," Kuka said. "I've run into sows and cubs, but they've seen me first, but one day it might not be that way."

Deb Haaland's road to lead the Department of the Interior has been rocky, with some members of Congress using her confirmation process to air grievances with President Joe Biden's climate change agenda.

On Tuesday, Montana Sen. Steve Daines and Wyoming Sen. Cynthia Lummis, both Republicans, placed a procedural hold on her nomination, citing concerns about her positions on oil and gas development.


There’s high drama in the oil world right now. Last year, we saw prices go negative as a glut took over the world. Annual production fell by record amounts. Last week, though, prices shot up after oil-producing countries decided they would keep production low.

Fight About Guns Derails First HNRC Meeting

Feb 23, 2021

The House Natural Resources Committee is one of the most powerful congressional bodies when it comes to managing the West’s public lands. But as Mountain West News Bureau’s Nate Hegyi reports, the committee’s first meeting of the year devolved into an argument over guns.

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.

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. 

Dystopian Film Fans More Prepared for Pandemic?

Jan 25, 2021
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A love of apocalyptic horror films may have actually helped people mentally prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic, according to research published this month in the journal Personality and Individual Differences. Mountain West News Bureau's Madelyn Beck reports.

Horror Film Fans Were Better Prepared For The Pandemic

Jan 20, 2021

A love of apocalyptic horror films may have actually helped people mentally prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic. At least, that's according to research published this month in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

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Lake Powell, one of the Colorado River’s largest reservoirs, is dropping. While the decline means trouble for the region’s ongoing water scarcity issues, it presents a unique opportunity for a group of Utah-based river runners. As KZMU’s Molly Marcello  reports, hidden rapids are being revealed as the water drops.

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.

Early research out of Yellowstone National Park backs up a working theory that wolf populations may be an effective way to control the spread of chronic wasting disease. The Mountain West News Bureau’s Beau Baker reports.

Vanessa Chavarriaga loves to be outside, whether it's floating down a river in the desert or ice skating on a frozen alpine lake. And when she posts photos of her adventures, she includes information about where exactly she was.


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Thursday removed Endangered Species List protections for the gray wolf in the lower 48 states. Mountain West News Bureau's Madelyn Beck explains what that means for the West.

Here's a scenario you may have found yourself in recently: You open up Facebook or Twitter, and someone you know is posting about a conspiracy theory. You wonder, Do I say something? Is there any convincing them otherwise?

Colorado regulators are now requiring oil and gas operators to monitor fracking emissions earlier and more often, and provide that data to local governments. Both industry officials and regulators supported the move. But concerns persist, like the fact that the rules allow oil and gas operators to choose how to monitor their own emissions. Regardless, environmental groups see Colorado as a leader in emission monitoring in the region and hope other states follow suit.

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

For Dr. Lori Drumm, the trouble began after she cancelled a rodeo in rural Deer Lodge, Mont.

This story is part of a collaboration between the Mountain West News Bureau and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Read about how a U.S. border town is responding to the shutdown here.

Paul Samycia started his fly fishing company two decades ago and has grown it into the largest in Fernie, British Columbia. But these days, Samycia's Elk River Guiding Company is adrift. 

Traditionally more than two-thirds of the company's clients are Americans, and with the border closed, Samycia says the season is almost a write-off.

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

The U.S.-Canada border crossing north of Eureka, Mont., is quiet these days. No buses or vans packed with mountain bikes and vacationing families. Just a single logging truck. 

"No traffic hardly at all," says David Clarke, owner of the First & Last Chance Bar and Duty Free Store.

At a hearing last weekend about a Colorado bill on vaccination, Dr. Reginald Washington had originally planned to make several urgent points in support of the bill. 

First, that diseases like measles are resurging, and they’re serious. (He’d know. He’s treated patients with complications from measles and pertussis.) Second, due to COVID-19, children are missing well-child visits and skipping vaccinations, putting them at risk of outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. 

The pandemic has beef markets on a roller coaster, and Shohone, Idaho's Amie Taber is among the ranchers along for the ride.