Rae Ellen Bichell

Mountain West Reporter

Rae Ellen Bichell reports for the Mountain West News Bureau out of KUNC in Colorado. 

Before joining the team, she covered everything from Ebola to butterfly evolution and space toilets as a science reporter for NPR. She also tried freelancing for a couple years in Helsinki, Finland, originally under a Fulbright grant.

Now based in northern Colorado, she spends her free time reading, playing indoor soccer (not very well) and doing a crazy sport called canyoneering. 

You can reach Rae Ellen at rae.bichell@kunc.org.

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https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/photograph/5993/13/81225
U.S. Forest Service

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.

Norman B. Leventhal Map Center / Flickr

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.

Christina Cain / University of Colorado Museum of Natural History

The National Park Service is giving museums and universities across the country grants to return ancestral artifacts and human remains taken from Native American tribes over the years.

Bill Selak / Flickr

If the measure passes in November, the town of Golden, Colorado may join a handful of cities that allow 16-year-olds to vote in local elections. The idea is part of a growing conversation to lower the voting age for state and federal elections as well.

Rae Ellen Bichell / Mountain West News Bureau

Walking through forests across the Mountain West, you might not realize you’re walking past historical artifacts big enough to crush you. These artifacts are pine and cedar trees that have had their bark peeled off in a special way. The trees are a bit of a mystery to archaeologists, and one they’re running out of time to solve.

Stuart Rankin / Flickr

Western firefighters were working the biggest wildfire in California’s history when they encountered a surprising obstacle: slow internet.

Cowgirl Jules / Flickr

With wildfires burning through much of the West, there’s high demand for big aircraft to come in and battle the flames from above.

Jerry Huddleston / Flickr

The Trump administration announced a new rule on greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants, called the ‘Affordable Clean Energy Rule.’ It would put regulatory power in states’ hands.

The Obama administration had previously tried to enact something called the Clean Power Plan, which was considered the country’s primary strategy for lowering emissions to meet its 2030 target under the Paris climate agreement.

Lauren Dauphin / NASA Earth Observatory

Over the last 30 years, the West has seen an uptick in the size and frequency of forest fires. Scientists have typically attributed the change to low snowpack and high summer temperatures. But researchers writing in the journal PNAS say the trend could have more to do with rain.

Lorie Shaull / Flickr

People for and against abortion rights are watching what happens with President Trump’s nominee to fill an empty seat on the Supreme Court.

Anti-abortion groups including March for Life and National Right to Life Committee have commended the president’s choice, Brett Kavanaugh, whose Senate confirmation hearings are set to begin in early September. Abortion-rights advocates worry that adding a perceived conservative justice like Kavanaugh will tip the court’s scales when it comes to views on abortion, opening up the possibility that a 1973 Supreme Court case protecting that right might be overturned.

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