Luke Runyon | KUNC

Luke Runyon

Reporter, Colorado River Basin

As KUNC’s reporter covering the Colorado River Basin, I dig into stories that show how water issues can both unite and divide communities throughout the Western U.S. I produce feature stories for KUNC and a network of public media stations in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, California and Nevada. I also host KUNC’s live community storytelling events.

I love public radio because I know the power of hearing someone’s story in their own words, using their own voice. You can get a much better sense of who someone is and what their motivations are just by listening to how they speak, and that’s a big part of why I love public radio reporting.

Before covering water at KUNC I covered the agriculture and food beat for five years as the station’s Harvest Public Media reporter. I’ve also reported for Aspen Public Radio in Aspen, Colo. and Illinois Public Radio in Springfield, Ill. My reports have been featured on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Here & Now and APM's Marketplace. I’m a proud graduate of the University of Illinois’ Public Affairs Reporting program.

My work has been recognized by the Society of Environmental Journalists, Radio Television Digital News Association, the Colorado Broadcasters Association and the Public Media Journalists Association.

When I’m not at the station you can usually find me out exploring the Rocky Mountains with either a pack on my back or skis on my feet (sometimes both at the same time).

Nick Cote for KUNC/LightHawk

Water agencies throughout the West are changing their operations during the coronavirus outbreak to make sure cities and farms don't run dry.

Their responses range from extreme measures to modest adjustments to ensure their most critical workers don't succumb to the virus.

Courtesy Jake Comer / Genesis Plastics

A Greeley plastics company has joined a statewide effort to fill the gaps in personal protective equipment, or PPE, for medical workers on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak.

Luke Runyon / KUNC

Northern Colorado's meatpacking industry says its facilities will continue operating at full capacity during the coronavirus outbreak.

Meatpacker JBS USA, with its headquarters in Greeley, says it will keep the city's beef processing plant up and running as the state's number of COVID-19 cases rises.

Scott Franz / KUNC

Colorado has its first two "presumptive positive" cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the latest coronavirus. State health officials on Thursday confirmed an out-of-state visitor to Summit County has tested positive.

Luke Runyon / KUNC

Coal-fired power plants are closing, or being given firm deadlines for closure, across the country. In the Western states that make up the overallocated and drought-plagued Colorado River, these facilities use a significant amount of the region's scarce water supplies.

With closure dates looming, communities are starting the contentious debate about how this newly freed up water should be put to use.

Nick Cote for KUNC

A warming climate is already causing river flows in the Southwest’s largest watershed to decline, according to a new study from federal scientists. And it finds that as warming continues it’s likely to get worse. 

Humpback chub
Melanie Fischer / USFWS

An endangered fish found in the Colorado River basin is on the upswing, federal officials said Tuesday as they proposed reclassifying the humpback chub as threatened.

Luke Runyon / KUNC

Every time thick, dark rain clouds move over the deserts that surround Las Vegas, there's an anticipatory buzz. Flora and fauna alike begin preparing for the rare event, lying in wait for the first few drops.

Todd Esque is usually waiting for them too from his office in Henderson, Nevada. He knows how much desert life depends on their arrival. So when they do come, he's smiling.

Luke Runyon / KUNC

With short-term drought plans finished, water managers from across the Southwest recently gathered in Las Vegas to figure out what's next.

The Colorado River Water Users Association annual conference brings together nearly every municipal water agency, irrigation district, Native American tribe and environmental group that relies on the Colorado River.

Luke Runyon / KUNC

The West’s water security is wrapped up in snow. When it melts, it becomes drinking and irrigation water for millions throughout the region. A high snowpack lets farmers, skiers and water managers breathe a sigh of relief, while a low one can spell long-term trouble.

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