Pine and spruce beetles have killed millions of trees across Wyoming and the West. To many, the dying forests are visually unattractive. But there’s a bigger issue. Researchers in the Medicine Bow National Forest are finding that beetle kill has had a major impact on how the forest processes carbon dioxide. Wyoming Public radio’s Willow Belden reports.
More than 40 million acres of trees have been killed by bark beetles in the Rocky Mountain West over the last two decades. Those trees are an eyesore, and as we heard in the last story, a source of carbon dioxide. But a new project is trying to find an upside to the epidemic. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has given researchers at five western universities, including the University of Wyoming, $10 million to see if those dead trees can be converted into gasoline.
In the governor’s budget last week, one area that didn’t get a lot of attention is a proposal to increase funding to communities and counties by $175 million. That would be a $40 million increase over his previous proposal. 40 percent of that money would go for infrastructure, such as roads, but the rest would go into operations. If approved, it would come at a time when most local governments are dealing with less revenue. Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports.
Anew exhibit offers three painters’ views of protected private lands in Jackson Hole. Wyoming Public Radio’s Micah Schweizer reports on the first-ever collaboration between the Jackson Hole Land Trust and artists, called View 22.
Adrian Shirk was born in a now-defunct Manhattan maternity ward. Her nonfiction has appeared in Wilder Quarterly, The Airship, Owl Eye Review, 7Stops Magazine, and Packet. Currently, she's at work on a book of epistolary essays with poet Amber Stewart and is finishing an MFA in creative nonfiction at the University of Wyoming.
A version of "The Disoriented Express" recently appeared in Packet.
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission conditionally approved a request from Idaho Power to upgrade the Jim Bridger Power Plant in Rock Springs, Wyoming.
The upgrades will reduce nitrous oxide emissions from the plant, but some environmental groups say the $130 million investment isn’t cost-effective because stricter regulation of coal-fired power is likely in the near future.
On a snowy and cold Thursday morning, the British a cappella vocal ensemble the King's Singer's warmed up the Morning Music studio. The King's Singers are on tour of festive performances across the United States. One of their stops includes a performance in Laramie at the University of Wyoming's Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts Concert Hall.
The Gala Holiday Concert at the University of Wyoming on Saturday and Sunday feature performances by the Bel Canto Women’ Choir, Civic Chorus, Singing Statesmen, Symphony Orchestra and Wind Symphony. Orchestra director Michael Griffith previewed a portion of the concert with Wyoming Public Radio’s Micah Schweizer.
The federal royalty rate for trona was recently reduced from 6-percent to 4%. Industry has been pushing for royalty reductions for over a decade. But Powder River Basin Resource Council’s Jill Morrison says if anything, the royalty should be increased.
“Our position has always been that minerals are a finite resource. Once they’re removed they’re gone and we have that one chance to tax those minerals and get that fair market value because that’s what’s going to help balance our budget, both at the state and national level,” says Morrison.
A smartphone app that’s trying to raise awareness about conflicts between wind turbines and birds saw a spike in downloads after a settlement over eagle deaths at wind farms in Wyoming was announced last week.
The game is called WingWhackers, and the premise is pretty simple. You’re a protected bird of some kind -- an eagle, an owl, a hawk, and you need to make it home with dinner, through a field of spinning wind turbines.
It would cost at least $4.5 million dollars for Wyoming to take over regulatory control of the uranium and thorium mining industries from the federal government, according to a new feasibility study from the Department of Environmental Quality.
Deputy Director Nancy Nuttbrock says that estimate only takes into account the six years it would take to get the program running -- not it’s actual operations.
Tom Duncan grew up in Lander. He comes from a family of Scottish immigrants that settled in Wyoming in the 1880s. In 1900, Duncan’s grandfather trailed 5000 sheep to Fremont County, where he began a ranch along the western border of the Wind River Indian Reservation. Duncan tells the family story of their Native American neighbor, Togwotee, for whom Togwotee Pass is named.
The University of Wyoming is moving forward with its effort to replace football coach Dave Christensen who was fired Sunday. U-W Athletics Director Tom Burman said at a news conference that the school is prepared to make a competitive offer and he says the U-W Trustees and Acting President Dick McGinity are behind his efforts to drastically improve the football program.
“I feel good that we all know that this is an extremely important hire for the University and for me. I need their support and I feel that I absolutely have it.”
Rebecca Golden is a candidate for the Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction at the University of Wyoming. She's the author of a memoir, "Butterbabe: The True Adventures of a 40-Stone Outsider" (Random House UK) and has contributed to Salon, Nerve and the Times of London. Rebecca's current project is a collection of essays about the city of Detroit.
After five seasons Wyoming football coach Dave Christensen has been fired. Christensen had 27 wins and 35 losses in his tenure and his teams were only 16 and 23 in the Mountain West Conference. He did take Wyoming to two bowl games, winning one. The last appearance was in 2011.
U-W Athletics Director Tom Burman said the football program“ has not achieved at the level of success we expect.”
The Wyoming chapter of the U.S. Small Business Administration is asking shoppers to think local and think small this Saturday. Wyoming District Director Amy Lea says they’re hoping that state residents will consider purchasing holiday gifts from local merchants first.
"These are our friends and our neighbors, when we live in small towns in Wyoming, and even the larger ones," Lea said. "And we want them to be able to stay in business."
Wyoming Governor Matt Mead is recommending that the legislature not expand Medicaid services to the some 16-thousand low income people in the state who cannot afford health insurance. Mead says he will not support any form of Medicaid Expansion because of problems the federal government has had in implementing the Affordable Care Act.
“Even if it was gonna work it still seems to me that the ACA is more bent on how to pay for medical costs
rather than the questions of how do we lower costs and how do we get more medical care to more people?”
The Governor is recommending two-point-five percent pay raises for University of Wyoming and state employees, for each of the next two years.
Governor Matt Mead is also proposing one-time two percent pay hikes for Community College and K-12 Education employees. The governor made the recommendations in his proposed two year budget for the fiscal year that begins in July. Mead says it’s been several years since state and U-W employees have received a raise.
Government estimates of methane emissions from the Rocky Mountain region might be low.
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that’s produced by agriculture, natural gas drilling and coal mining, among other things. Knowing how much of it is being released is important because of its potential effects on climate.
The co-ownership of a parcel of land, or land fractionation, on a dozen Indian reservations has doubled from 1992 to 2010. That’s according to a recent study which compared 2010 statistics on land fractionation to a government study from 1992, the only publicly available study of fractionation.
Fractionation happens when several heirs inherit undivided interests in the same allotment of land. Over generations, allotments can end up being shared between dozens of owners.
Almost five years ago, the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes submitted an application to the federal government asking for the Wind River Indian Reservation to be treated as a separate state for monitoring air quality. They're still waiting on a response.
Eastern Shoshone tribe chairman Darwin St. Clair says it’s a matter of tribal sovereignty as well as stewardship of their land. He says with a coal power plant and oil and gas fields nearby, air quality is a high priority.
What if the vast stands of beetle-killed trees in the west could be turned into gasoline? A recently-announced federal project involving several University of Wyoming researchers is trying to answer that question.
Most biofuels are made of crops, like corn and sorghum, but this five-year, $10 million project will study whether dead trees might work just as well -- while avoiding competition with food sources.