Mountain West News Bureau

As the Mountain West grows and hunter numbers decline, states are finding ways to bring in more revenue to fund conservation.

Colorado and Utah are two of just six states nationwide that have laws allowing political campaign funds to be used for childcare expenses. But that number’s likely to climb, potentially freeing up more parents to run for office.

Back in mid-December, three children were hospitalized with measles after passing through the Denver airport and the emergency department of Children’s Hospital Colorado. The concern was that others might have picked up the disease at those locations. 

Feral pigs cause an estimated $1.5 billion in damage each year, especially to crops. Now concern is mounting they could be at the doorstep in parts of the Mountain West.

The pigs — which an expert at the USDA has called "one of the most destructive and formidable invasive species in the United States" — could come across the Canadian border into Montana, or traipse into Colorado from the feral pig stronghold of Texas.

Four women from the nation's second largest Indian reservation have turned to the federal court system after they were banished by tribal leadership last year.

"It changed our lives," Ute tribal member Angelita Chegup said. "One moment, I had a job, the next moment I didn't."

Banishment is a severe and rare form of punishment in Indian Country. It has its roots in pre-Colonial America, when tribes would banish murderers, thieves or mutineers from their community and into the wild.

Heat pumps offer one of the best ways to cut carbon in homes and commercial buildings, energy and climate experts say in a new report.

A group of chemicals called PFAS are common in firefighting foams, as well as household products like rain jackets, pizza boxes and non-stick pots and pans. They've been in use since the 1940s and have come to be known as "forever chemicals" because they persist in the environment.

PFAS, which stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, have made their way into watersheds around the world, and as a recent study found, even into raindrops. Some are considered a threat to human health. 

Researchers including Jens Blotevogel, an environmental engineer at Colorado State University, are studying ways to get rid of the compounds. 

Colorado's poised to put the question of wolf reintroduction on the November ballot. One unanswered question is how the predators might affect the spread of chronic wasting disease, if at all.

CWD is a fatal neurodegenerative disease that currently infects deer, elk, moose and reindeer. Critics of wolf reintroduction argue that more predators on the landscape could further spread CWD.

Three children are being treated at a Denver-area hospital for measles, adding to the more than 1,200 cases of the disease reported this year nationwide. Some Mountain West states have already seen measles cases this year, including Colorado, Idaho, and Nevada.

Measles is very contagious, so when a case is identified, it kicks local health officials into high gear, rapidly searching for anyone the patients may have come into contact with. 

This post was updated at 8:30 p.m. with additional information.

About 60 people gathered at the Colorado Capitol Monday for the third and final day of a summit on vaccination. It featured a series of presentations full of reasons why people should not get their children immunized.

Michele Ames says that's a problem.

"The world consensus is that vaccines are safe and effective and they save lives. Period," said Ames, a spokesperson for Colorado Vaccinates, a coalition of groups including Children's Hospital Colorado and the local chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics aimed at increasing vaccination rates in the state.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a new director. The Senate on Thursday confirmed Aurelia Skipwith, making her the first African American to lead the agency.

As Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso made clear to fellow lawmakers on Thursday, he believes Skipwith is well qualified.

Nationwide, more and more people are surviving childhood. But researchers found those improvements might not be as big in rural areas. 

A report last year found that child mortality rates had improved. In fact, nationally, it looked like the country had met its 2020 goals. But then researchers took a closer look.

The House’s newly passed defense bill will establish a new armed services branch, the United States Space Force, which will be headquartered in Colorado Springs.

Researchers from a number of states, including Idaho, Colorado and Nevada, have found that grazing does not help get rid of cheatgrass, a highly flammable weed. 

An extraordinary discovery in the backyard of Colorado Springs has created a window into an evolutionary period we previously knew very little about.

A report out this week found that people seeking mental health treatment go out-of-network more than they do for primary care. Essentially, that means that for consumers, it’s often more expensive to treat mind than body, and the disparity seems to have gotten worse in recent years. 

Senators from Colorado and Nevada are among those sponsoring a bill aimed at reducing firefighters’ exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. 

Earlier this month the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee unanimously approved the bill, which aims to protect firefighters from being exposed to a group of chemicals known as PFAS that are found in firefighting foams and gear.

A new study shows that global wind speeds have increased in the last decade, and that may allow wind turbines in the Mountain West to generate more clean energy.

Update November 15, 2019 at 3:30p.m.:  

According to Travis Duncan with Colorado Parks and Wildlife: "The commission voted to dismiss both citizen petitions on allowing atlatls and stone broadheads for use in hunting big game at today's meeting. The Commission noted there are no quality standards on sharpness of blades, weight or design on stone projectiles which can lead to inconsistent performance and more injured animals on the landscape."

The original story continues below.

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.

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