MountainWestNews

Andy Smetanka holds a sign protesting the closure of Montana's only alternative weekly newspaper.
Nate Hegyi / Mountain West News Bureau

Freelance writer Sarah Aswell leans against a big rock near downtown Missoula, Montana.

She’s surrounded by people holding signs and protesting the abrupt closure of the state’s oldest alternative weekly newspaper.

“It feels weird to think about anything except our loss today,” she said .

The federal agency overseeing the Lake Powell Pipeline license application issued a key ruling on Tuesday which some critics are saying will delay the project. But supporters insist that now they're actually a step closer to getting final approval.

It may be autumn in a couple of days but wildfire season isn't slowing down. People living in parts of Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah remain evacuated from their homes because of nearby wildfires. And the flames are fueling another thing-private firefighting companies.

The outdoor recreation industry is growing faster than ever, especially in our region. In fact, new statistics show this sector grew faster than the overall U.S. economy.

The Trump administration just relaxed Obama-era industry regulations for methane leaks from oil and gas operations on federal lands. But reactions to the change in the Mountain West are mixed.  

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The Mountain West is a pretty conservative place. So when Democrats win here… it’s big news. And now two Democratic governors from the region are mulling a run for president.

Colorado’s John Hickenlooper and Montana’s Steve Bullock are both moderate progressives, both won in fairly conservative places, and both are kind of wonky.

“They’re not that person who can command a crowd,” Lee Banville, a political journalism professor at the University of Montana, says.

Simon Hunt / Flickr

The ongoing trade war with China is feeling close to home these days. Mounting tariffs on outdoor recreation gear may hit the wallets of folks in the Mountain West who love going outside.

On Monday, the Trump administration announced $200 billion dollars worth of new tariffs on products from China.

“This is going to include backpacks, sport bags, leather ski gloves, bikes and some camping equipment,” Rich Harper, a trade analyst with the lobbying group Outdoor Industry Association, said.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came out in cautious support of medical marijuana last month but now says the legislature should decide how it’s legalized in Utah, not the voters in a citizen’s initiative this November.

Wildfires are still burning across much of the Mountain West. In Colorado, heat and drought are pushing fires into new areas. In Utah, evacuations are still in place for two blazes.

Meanwhile, new information is out about what caused the death of one Utah firefighter last month during California’s Mendocino Complex Fire.

Our region has attracted the attention of the Terminator.

“I’m right now on a campaign to terminate gerrymandering,” said Arnold Schwarzenegger in a video from Budapest, where he’s shooting his latest film.  

Schwarzenegger is raising money for efforts in four states, including two in the Mountain West, to end the political practice.

We hear about gerrymandering a lot these days, but not necessarily an explanation for what it is. It’s complicated, but not impossible to explain.

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