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Sounds of the High Country

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The West's abandoned gas wells

The West's abandoned gas wells January 9, 2014
The booms and busts of the oil and gas industry have taken a toll on many communities in the West. In Wyoming, the coalbed methane bust in the last 10 years left about 1200 abandoned gas wells behind, sometimes right in the middle of once prosperous ranch land.

On this episode of Sounds of the High Country, KDNK's Eric Skalac talks to Wyoming Public Radio's Irina Zhorov about her article in the most recent issue of the High Country News on Wyoming's abandoned gas wells.
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Killing trees to save the forest

Killing trees to save the forest December 11, 2013
New research shows that trees in the Western U.S. are much more sensitive to warming temperatures than previously thought, and that recent increases in average temperature may already be affecting tree mortality across the west.

For the latest edition of Sounds of the High Country, KDNK's collaboration with the environmental magazine High Country News, Nelson Harvey spoke with the magazine's assistant editor Cally Carswell about some of that new research.

He found out that what scientists are learning about tree mortality today could have major impacts on how we prepare for the future effects of global warming.
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Reviving hemp in the West

Reviving hemp in the West December 3, 2013
Last year, when Amendment 64 legalized recreational marijuana in Colorado, it also legalized hemp and since then, for the first time in decades, farmers around the state are considering growing the industrial fiber. On this episode of Sounds of the High Country, KDNK's Eric Skalac talks to reporter Allen Best, who wrote about Colorado hemp in the most recent issue of the High Country News.
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Small town turns to big science after mining bust

Small town turns to big science after mining bust November 14, 2013
Small western towns that fall victim to the boom and bust cycles of mining or oil and gas often try to reinvent themselves through tourism or other lower impact industries.

But in the latest issue of High Country News, reporter Marshall Swearingen tells the story of one South Dakota mining town that's refashioned itself as a center for cutting edge physics research.

KDNK's Nelson Harvey spoke to Swearingen for the latest edition of Sounds of the High Country, and he learned that while scientific research may not pack the economic punch of the mining industry, it has all sorts of unintended educational benefits.
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The impact of rural school closures

The impact of rural school closures October 30, 2013
As Colorado voters consider a new education funding mechanism with Amendment 66, a decade-old law in Alaska is closing rural schools. On this episode of Sounds of the High Country, our collaboration with the High Country News, KDNK's Eric Skalac talks to Krista Langlois--in the most recent issue of the High Country news, Langlois writes about the law and about how school closures are affecting rural Alaskan communities.
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Marooned on Twiggley Island

Marooned on Twiggley Island October 15, 2013
September's massive flood devastated the front range town of Lyons, and recovery efforts there and in other affected communities are ongoing, even as a partial government shutdown threatened to pull National Guard members from essential work repairing roads and bridges.

For the latest edition of Sounds of the High Country, KDNK's Eric Skalac talks to writer and radio-reporter Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock. In an essay in the current issue of High Country News, Hitchcock tells the story of Twiggley Island--one of a series of islands formed when the St. Vrain river jumped its banks and flooded Lyons. Hitchcock, her family and many other residents were temporarily stranded on those islands for several days.
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More Front Range communities to consider fracking bans this fall

More Front Range communities to consider fracking bans this fall September 3, 2013
The debate over the new gas drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing is heating up this fall, as several cities along Colorado's Front Range prepare to vote on fracking bans or moratoriums.

In a story in the current issue of High Country News, the writer Josh Zaffos documents the groundswell of Front Range opposition to fracking, and he also describes how some of Colorado's more rural communities actually want to loosen fracking rules.

As Zaffos told KDNK's Nelson Harvey in the latest edition of Sounds of the High Country, voters on both sides of the drilling debate are jockeying for more local control over gas exploration in Colorado.
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Life in the Baaken oil fields

Life in the Baaken oil fields August 5, 2013
For many workers left jobless or underemployed after the recent economic recession, the domestic oil and gas boom now sweeping the U.S. seems like a quick ticket to high paying work.

For the latest edition of Sounds of the High Country, KDNK's collaboration with the environmental magazine High Country News, KDNK's Nelson Harvey spoke with Sandy Gebhards, an Idaho woman who found work driving an oil truck in North Dakota's Baaken oil fields. He also talked to Sierra Crane Murdoch, who profiles Gebhards in the current issue of the magazine. And as he found out, in a high-risk industry like the oil business, things don't always go exactly as planned.
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The past, present and future of wildfires in Colorado

The past, present and future of wildfires in Colorado July 22, 2013
President Obama's proposed budget for firefighting next year is up 27 percent over this year's levels, but as KDNK's Nelson Harvey reports in this episode of Sounds of the High Country, at least one prominent wildfire expert doesn't think its all money well spent.
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Evolving western attitudes on oil and gas development

Evolving western attitudes on oil and gas development June 24, 2013

The years since the economic crash of 2008 haven’t exactly been easy ones for conservationists in the west. Arguments about the job creating potential of extractive industries like oil and gas are more convincing when other jobs are scarce, and for many people, human welfare takes clear priority over the protection of other species or ecosystems.

For the latest edition of Sounds of the High Country, KDNK’s Nelson Harvey talks to the writer Hal Herring about how the future looks for so-called “nature freaks” like himself, and why he’s still fighting to protect his rugged Montana landscape from oil and gas development.

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