Willow Belden


Phone: 307-766-5086
Email: wbelden@uwyo.edu 

Willow Belden joined Wyoming Public Radio after earning her masters degree at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Prior to grad school, Willow spent a year in the Middle East on a Fulbright grant, conducting research in a Palestinian refugee camp, and writing for the Jordan Times and JO Magazine. Upon returning to the U.S., she became a reporter and editor at the Queens Chronicle in New York City and received the Rookie Reporter of the Year award from the New York Press Association. This spring, she received the Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship from Columbia University. When she’s not working on stories, Willow spends her time bicycling, hiking, kayaking and traveling. She can occasionally be spotted on a unicycle. And she has a habit of swimming in the ocean with the Polar Bear Club on New Years Day.


Open Spaces
12:08 pm
Thu January 5, 2012

December 16th, 2011

Open Spaces
12:04 pm
Thu January 5, 2012

December 9th, 2011

Open Spaces
11:53 am
Thu January 5, 2012

November 4th, 2011

Open Spaces
11:49 am
Thu January 5, 2012

October 21st, 2011

Open Spaces
10:56 am
Thu January 5, 2012

September 30th, 2011

6:00 am
Thu January 5, 2012

Mead promises to improve workplace safety

Gov. Matt Mead says he will implement recommendations from a new report focused on improving safety for workers.

Wyoming has one of the nation’s highest rates of workplace fatalities, and the governor recently commissioned a study to figure out why.

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5:26 pm
Tue January 3, 2012

St. Johns to connect stroke patients with specialists via video

Stroke patients in Jackson will soon be able to consult with out-of-state specialists via video technology.

Gary Trauner, Chief Operating Officer at St. John’s Medical Center, says specialists used to make occasional trips from Idaho and Utah, but now remote doctors will constantly be available to meet with patients over video.

Trauner says the new technology will help St. John’s diagnose patients and determine whether to transfer them to other facilities. He says it’s almost as good as having the specialist in the room with the patient.

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5:22 pm
Tue January 3, 2012

Study shows wolves benefit Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

Associated Press

A new report indicates the reintroduction of wolves has benefited the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The study found that the wolves have kept the elk population in check, which in turn has allowed aspen, willow and cottonwood trees to re-grow in some parts of the park.
 Study author Bill Ripple of Oregon State University says those types of trees are crucial to maintaining a vibrant ecosystem.

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7:27 am
Tue January 3, 2012

New party head seeks to give Democrats more clout

The Wyoming Democratic Party has chosen a new executive director: Robin Van Ausdall. 

Van Ausdall has worked on several Democratic political campaigns in Colorado and was the Democratic National Committee field officer for northeast Colorado for three years.

She says she’s excited about returning to her native Wyoming, and she hopes to make the Democratic party more competitive in the state. She says she hopes to provide more support to party officials at the county level and to raise more money than in the past.

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2:09 pm
Thu December 29, 2011

Winter storm brings avalanches to western Wyoming

The winter storm in northwest Wyoming has caused avalanches in Jackson Hole, Teton Pass, and Hoback Canyon. And the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center says more slides are likely to come.

An avalanche warning is in effect through Friday night. Forecaster Jim Springer says that doesn’t just mean there’s a risk of avalanches; it means they’re already happening.

“If you venture out right now, you’re going to have avalanche problems,” Springer said.

He added that conditions are ideal for slides right now, because early-season snow has been sitting for so long.

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Sage Grouse Plan
5:55 pm
Wed December 28, 2011

Wyoming exempt from federal sage grouse plan

Associated Press

Wyoming is exempt from new Bureau of Land Management policies regarding sage grouse.

The policies require local BLM offices to ensure that new oil and gas leases come with measures that prevent loss of sage grouse habitat. BLM officials will have to assess how sage grouse would be affected by proposed roads and power lines in sage grouse territory.

The BLM’s National Technical Team had recommended even more stringent sage grouse conservation measures, such as flat-out banning new oil and gas leases in core sage grouse areas.

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6:39 pm
Tue December 20, 2011

Wyoming Hopes To Battle Pneumonia In Bighorn Sheep

M. Noonan

Wyoming is hoping to start vaccinating bighorn sheep for pneumonia within the next few years.

A working group dedicated to curbing the spread of sheep diseases met last week in Casper, and participants said inoculation research is yielding promising results.

Doug McWhirter, a wildlife biologist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, is a member of the working group. He says bighorn sheep are doing well in many parts of Wyoming but that diseases are still a big threat.

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Open Spaces
9:58 am
Mon December 19, 2011

Wyoming parents create an App to ease road trips with the kids

Listen to the story

This week, a new iPhone app came out which lets you search for child-related amenities when you’re on the road. Jen Sieve-Hicks of Buffalo is one of the app’s creators. She says the app gives parents a lot more information than they would get from a Google search.

Open Spaces
9:30 am
Mon December 19, 2011

Reality TV show aims to draw young people to hunting

Kyle Thomas, 14, and his mom, Mary Billier, pose with an elk Kyle killed at Wagonhound Ranch near Douglas. A TV crew recorded his experience for an upcoming reality show called “Call of the Wild” intended to entice young people to take up hunting.

Listen to the story

HOST INTRO: Each year, fewer and fewer Americans go hunting. That trend worries the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, because they get the bulk of their funding from hunters. So they’re beefing up their efforts to recruit new hunters. The latest plan is to recruit kids through a reality TV show. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.

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6:28 pm
Thu December 15, 2011

Christmas Bird Count Begins

Wyoming's State Bird: The Western Meadow Lark

The Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count starts this weekend in Wyoming.

The counters are volunteers who go out in various locations across the state and document the number and types of birds they see.

Longtime participant Jane Dorn says the count started in response to the popular tradition of Christmas bird hunting.

“The purpose of the bird count originally was to give people something else to do other than go out and hunt birds on Christmas day,” Dorn said.

Since then, the count has become an important tool for tracking bird population trends.

5:58 pm
Mon December 12, 2011

Buffalo residents create iPhone app for parents on the road

A couple from Buffalo has created a new iPhone app meant to help parents find kid-friendly amenities.

Jen Sieve-Hicks is one of the app’s creators. She says the program, which is called KIDzOUT, lets parents search for specific things when they’re on the road. For example, you can search for restaurants with kids menus or gas stations with family restrooms.

“This is an app that actually has on-the-ground value for parents, so that when those interruptions occur in your travel day, it’s not as difficult as it could be,” Sieve-Hicks said.

Filthy Power
4:24 pm
Wed December 7, 2011

Wyoming is home to one one of the country's "filthiest" power plants

Basin Electric Laramie River station
Basin Electric Power Cooperative

Wyoming is home to one of the nation’s dirtiest power plants, according to a new study by the Environmental Integrity Project.

The report examined emissions reports from power plants around the country and found that Basin Electric’s Laramie River station is one of the top 10 emitters of arsenic, chromium, nickel and selenium. Those are all toxic heavy metals.

Ilan Levin, associate director of the Environmental Integrity Project, says exposure to those chemicals can be harmful.

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5:07 pm
Thu December 1, 2011

Methodist Church to apologize for Sand Creek Massacre

This week marks the 147th anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre, in which nearly 200 members of the Arapaho and Cheyenne tribes were murdered.

The soldiers who carried out the atrocity were led by a Methodist minister. This spring, the Methodist Church plans to formally apologize.

The apology is part of a string of “Acts of Repentance,” in which the church is acknowledging wrongdoing to indigenous peoples around the world.

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National Parks
5:45 pm
Wed November 30, 2011

Advocates say more national parks would boost economy

Grand Teton National Park

More than 100 economists and academics have written a letter to President Obama, calling for more national parks as a way to help the economy.

Their research indicates that protected public lands help create jobs.

Ray Rasker, one of the people who signed the letter to Obama, heads up a nonpartisan research group called Headwater Economics. He studies how environmental quality affects economic prosperity, and he recently researched the Yellowstone area.

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6:13 pm
Tue November 29, 2011

Grand Teton elk harvest down

The number of elk harvested in Grand Teton National Park this year is down nearly 30 percent from this time last year.

Park spokesperson Jackie Skaggs says warm fall weather and plentiful vegetation led the animals to migrate later than usual.

“We had such a good year for growth of native vegetation that the elk have remained in their summer ranges,” Skaggs said.

More elk are coming to the park now, though, and hunters have one more week to pursue the animals as part of the annual elk reduction program.

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7:19 pm
Fri November 25, 2011

Mead: Brace for budget cuts

Governor Matt Mead is telling state agencies to prepare for budget cuts.  The governor claims that Wyoming’s future revenues are expected to flatten out or even decrease in the next few years. Mead says the budget he’s preparing for next two years takes that prediction into account.

“The fact is over the last decade our spending on the standard budget has more than doubled," the governor said. "Over that period of time, the state of Wyoming has done some tremendous things, but we can’t continue to double it every ten years.”

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11:06 am
Fri November 25, 2011

Forest Service Proposes New Planning Rule

TheU.S. Forest Service has proposed a new national planning rule, which would govern how individual forests around the country draw up land management plans.

Under the current rule, forests draw up new management plans every 15 years. With the new system, they would re-assess and tweak their plans on an ongoing basis.

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5:28 pm
Wed November 23, 2011

Shoshone goat ban disturbs goat pack owners

Forest officials have banned domestic goats from parts of Shoshone National Forest. Officials say they're concerned about goats spreading diseases to wild bighorn sheep. But some goat owners say the Forest Service is over-reacting.

Charles Jennings with the National Pack Goat Association uses goats to carry gear for fly fishing trips and other outings, and he says his animals are closely monitored.

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