Chris Marchion takes a look at the Sapphire Wilderness Study Area in southwestern Montana.
Nate Hegyi / Mountain West News Bureau

Bills Would Ease Protections For Some Public Lands In Montana

Life’s been tough on Chris Marchion. There was the high school football injury and the knee replacement. “Unfortunately I got a hip that’s wore out,” he says. We’re standing alongside a gravel road near a cow pasture. Nowadays, this is about as close as Marchion can get to the Sapphire Wilderness Study Area. It’s a clump of rolling, grey mountains in the distance.

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Mountain West News Bureau

Chris Marchion takes a look at the Sapphire Wilderness Study Area in southwestern Montana.
Nate Hegyi / Mountain West News Bureau

Life’s been tough on Chris Marchion. There was the high school football injury and the knee replacement.

“Unfortunately I got a hip that’s wore out,” he says.

We’re standing alongside a gravel road near a cow pasture. Nowadays, this is about as close as Marchion can get to the Sapphire Wilderness Study Area. It’s a clump of rolling, grey mountains in the distance.

It began in 2014. Doctors noticed a cluster of mysterious cases in Colorado and Wyoming. Children were coming in with weak and paralyzed limbs. Eventually, 120 patients across the U.S. came in with similar symptoms.

A coal train in the Powder River Basin
Jerry Huddleston / Flickr

Editor's Note: In an earlier version of this story Kathleen Sgamma was quoted as saying reducing royalty rates increases revenue for industry and the federal government.  Her point was in fact that reducing regulatory barriers achieves this goal.

On Wednesday, an Interior Department advisory panel will propose changing how the government receives royalties from coal dug up on federal lands. But some critics are calling foul as panel members either come from the energy industry or energy-producing states.


oil well
Montana Public Radio

The vast majority of the nation’s oil and gas wells are located here in Mountain West. But a new report says once those wells run dry it could cost taxpayers billions of dollars to clean them up.

“This is a huge red flag,” says Aaron Weiss with the Center for Western Priorities.

The conservation group says it would cost taxpayers more than six billion dollars to clean up all the wells on federal land.

A fierce debate is taking place across the country right now: What to do about immigrants who came here illegally as children. Up until recently, they qualified for a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which protects them from deportation. But the Trump administration rescinded that Obama-era rule and Congress is debating what will take its place.  

We talked to three people affected by that debate right here in the Mountain West.

Colorado Springs, Colorado

The Last Piece Of Ground

A YPR special about the Northern Cheyenne, the coal industry, and the importance of land

Amid growing questions over the future of Obamacare exchanges, the head of California's marketplace said the nation's largest private health insurer should take responsibility for nearly $1 billion in losses and stop blaming the federal health law.

In Hong Kong's densely packed Causeway Bay district, a red sign with a portrait of Chairman Mao looms over the bustling storefronts and shoppers. The sign indicates that there is coffee, books and Internet on offer inside.

Customers go past a window where travelers can exchange foreign currencies, up a narrow staircase and into a room stacked high with books. The walls are painted red and decked out with 1960s Cultural Revolution propaganda posters and other Mao-era memorabilia. The aroma of coffee and the sound of jazz waft over the book-browsing customers.

When Robert Durst, the subject of HBO's documentary series The Jinx, is back in court in New Orleans on Wednesday, his longtime attorney, Dick DeGuerin, will again defend him. Durst is expected to plead guilty to a gun charge in New Orleans.

DeGuerin will also defend Durst in California this summer, when the heir of a wealthy New York family goes on trial for murder.

WATCH: Super Bowl Ads Already Generating Buzz

Feb 2, 2016

A landmark deal 10 years in the making will protect 9.1 millions acres of Canadian rain forest on the Pacific Coast of British Columbia.

The protected area in the Great Bear Rainforest is about half the size of Ireland.

It's been a month since armed militants took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, and even though the leaders of that occupation have been arrested, the community of Harney County finds itself deeply divided.

That anger erupted on Monday in the form of a huge shouting match on the steps of the county courthouse in Burns, Ore. It's a small town of about 2,700 people, so it's not every day that you see 400 or 500 people out on the street, screaming at each other.

How Much Harm Can The Zika Virus Really Do?

Feb 2, 2016

How much harm can the Zika virus do?

That's the question that is bedeviling researchers in Brazil. It's not just the matter of a possible link to brain damage in babies born to mothers who contracted the virus during pregnancy. There have also been suspected cases of adult patients who suffered temporary hearing loss.

Researchers are trying to make sense of it all, and yet they lack very basic information. Even the number of cases and the degree to which it has spread are unknown.

Saru Jayaraman may be restaurant obsessed, but don't call her a foodie. She's the founding director of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, a national organization that advocates for better wages and working conditions for restaurant workers. She's also published several studies in legal and policy journals as director of the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California-Berkeley.

No games will be played, but tomorrow is still a big day for college football. As per National Signing Day tradition, the best 17 and 18-year-old high school players from around the country are set to officially announce which college they will play for.

Increasingly, the day, and the hype around it, have provided fodder to the critics who say college football is anything but amateur. To discuss the big day, college football analyst John Bacon joins Here & Now‘s Robin Young.

Rogue Drones? Unleash The Eagles

Feb 2, 2016

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Field Days

On this episode of Field Days, rancher Weston Merrill prepares his barn for calving.

Sunday mornings at 11

Resounds: Arts And Culture On The High Plains

Hosts Anna Paige and Corby Skinner bring listeners access to the creators who live in our communities and who tell our stories through their art.

Host Stella Fong shares her personal love of food and wine in this monthly series. Celebrate the bounty of the region with Flavors Under the Big Sky.

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