Mountain West News Bureau

Moody’s Analytics just looked at the economic consequences of a report by Blue Cross Blue Shield on millennial health. And it’s not good.   

Just outside Durango, Colo., archeologist Rand Greubel stands on a mesa surrounded by juniper trees. He points to a circular hole in the ground, about 30 feet across and more than 8 feet deep. There's a fire pit in the center of an earthen floor, ventilation shafts tunneled into the side walls and bits of burned thatching that suggest how the structure once continued to rise above the ground. It's a large pit house from what's known as the Pueblo I period.

"We knew right away that it was highly significant just because of the sheer size of it," Greubel says.

There's been a lot of criticism of the Bureau of Land Management’s plan to move hundreds of positions from Washington D.C. to Western states. But the agency’s acting director is giving a new reason for the move.

William Perry Pendley told the Mountain West News Bureau that it’ll be easier to hire people in the West in part because people want to live here.

Researchers writing in the journal Science found that when kids get measles, it can cause “amnesia” in the immune system. 

In much of the Mountain West, measles vaccination rates are below the recommended 95% level.

Almost two centuries ago, the U.S. government and white hunters began slaughtering bison on the Great Plains. They pushed the animals close to extinction. But now, a wealthy nonprofit is trying to bring them back to the prairies by stitching together a massive, privately funded national park in northeastern Montana.

Many local ranchers loathe the idea, but local tribal councils say this return of bison is a long time coming.

A new report shows youth suicide rates have spiked alarmingly in recent years, especially in the Mountain West.

Chronic wasting disease is continuing to pop up in deer and elk populations around the Mountain West. But researchers have found one way to help prevent hunters from further spreading the neurodegenerative disease: household bleach.

A new study suggests huge fire blankets can help protect homes during wildfires.

As the Bureau of Land Management pilots a new livestock grazing initiative on public lands in six Western states, a conservation group is suing to get the agency to release more information about the program.

We know the climate crisis affects public health. But what do those health impacts cost us?

Wildland firefighters use fire retardant — the red stuff that air tankers drop — to suppress existing blazes. But Stanford researchers have developed a gel-like fluid they say makes fire retardant last longer and could prevent wildfires from igniting in the first place if applied to ignition-prone areas.

Many parts of the Mountain West are news deserts -- and it’s getting worse. More than 20 counties in our region have no local newspaper. The ones that are left are struggling. And research suggests news deserts contribute to low voter turnout and increasing partisanship

It’s no secret that wildfires are getting worse in the West. They’re threatening lives, homes and ecosystems. And they are also threatening our already-precarious watersheds. It’s all becoming a vicious cycle  — especially for the drier parts of our region. 

A pair of scientific reports out this week looked at air pollution and how it’s changed in recent years. The Mountain West looks clean compared to other parts of the country, at first glance.

Outdoor recreation offices in the West are spearheading a national network to promote the industry along with The National Governors Association.  

The Mountain West has disproportionately high rates of depressive disorders and suicide. Researchers are trying to find out why. Turns out, the mountains themselves might have something to do with it. 

People are protesting the U.S.’s treatment of immigrants, with vigils planned across the country for the night of Friday, July 12. Collectively, the national event is called “Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Human Concentration Camps.” 

Update posted June 26, 2019 at 5:48 p.m.: A spokesperson with Clayton Homes says the company has reopened conversations with the Black American West Museum & Heritage Center about the properties they own in Dearfield. "Our hope is to find a way to support their goals while moving ahead with plans to establish affordable housing in the area," said a statement.

The last place you might expect to find a wolf is inside a public library, a place that doesn’t even allow pets in the door. 

But on an early summer day, Shaya, a so-called “wolf ambassador” was pacing the 4th floor of the downtown library in Pueblo, Colorado, surrounded by an enthusiastic crowd.

The law that governs today’s hardrock mines on public lands in the West is nearly 150 years old. New legislation this week from House Democrats would enact significant reforms. 

Michael Osterholm is worried. He directs the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. He's also serving a one-year stint as a "Science Envoy for Health Security" with the State Department. And he told Minnesota lawmakers that when it comes to chronic wasting disease, we are playing with fire.

The backlog in U.S. immigration courts is now over 850,000 cases long. People can wait years for their hearings. And that can be a long time to pay for a lawyer and to make appearances in court. Both of these things can be much harder for immigrants living in rural and mountainous parts of the West.

Researchers first identified chronic wasting disease way back in the 1960s. Soon after, Michael Miller got sucked into working on it.

"Yeah, sucked into it is really right," he said.

Miller is a senior wildlife veterinarian with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Back then, local wildlife scientists were studying captive mule deer at a facility in Fort Collins, Colorado. They were trying to figure out how to help mule deer in the wild survive harsh winters, but the animals kept getting sick and dying.

Heather Swanson and Ryan Prioreschi monitor wildlife with the City of Boulder. They're standing in knee-high golden grass on a slope where the Rocky Mountains start slumping into the plains — the epicenter of a now-international animal epidemic. The ecologists have their binoculars out and they’re staring right at the problem.

A fawn is running circles around the rest of the herd, with the boing of a muscular slinky toy.

Chronic wasting disease is crippling deer populations in the Mountain West, around the country and in bordering Canadian provinces. It's not a bacterium or a virus or even a fungus, but caused by something called a prion, a type of protein that all mammals have in their bodies.

A study in the medical journal BMJ found a strong association between the strength of a state’s gun laws and its rate of mass shootings.

Paul Reeping is an epidemiologist with Columbia University and first author on the paper. He says researchers had already looked at the relationship between gun laws and outcomes like suicide or homicide.

Senators from across the country and on both sides of the aisle have introduced a bill to tackle a problematic illness of deer, elk and moose.

It's called chronic wasting disease. Like so-called "mad cow," it’s a prion disease, meaning that it is not caused by viruses or bacteria, but instead by aberrant proteins in the nervous system.

The Rocky Mountain News. The South Idaho Press. The Lone Peak New Utah.

These long-gone newspapers range from a Pulitzer-winning metro-area daily to small weeklies in rural towns. All are victims of an ongoing trend that’s pummeling the local American newspaper.

A nine-year-old boy in Colorado took his own life on the first week of school this year. The tragedy highlighted a pervasive problem in the state and in the Mountain West region as a whole -- the high suicide rate -- especially among youth. Goal Academy in Pueblo, Colorado is a charter program with high schools around the state that focuses on both academic and mental wellbeing.