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

Use it or lose it.

That saying is at the heart of how access to water is managed in the western U.S. Laws that govern water in more arid states, like Colorado, incentivize users to always take their full share from rivers and streams, or risk the state rescinding it. The threat comes in the form of a once-a-decade document that lists those users on the brink of losing their access to one of the region's most precious resources.

Rafting
Stacy Nick / KUNC

Colorado public health officials have issued guidance on how outdoor recreation should operate in the state, to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Luke Runyon / KUNC

A new survey finds differences in how Americans feel about water, and how those feelings translate into action.

The Water Main, a project from American Public Media, wanted to know how Americans think, feel and worry about their water. Among their findings is that knowledge of water issues isn't the biggest predictor of whether someone takes the effort to act. Personal connections to particular rivers, lakes and oceans led to more concrete conservation measures.

Luke Runyon / KUNC

A wastewater facility on Colorado's Western Slope is resuming operations more than a year after it was shut down for causing a sizable earthquake in 2019.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

COVID-19 is closing down meatpacking facilities across the country. At least 15 plants in nine states have either closed or reduced hours in response to outbreaks.

Workers at these plants tend to be among the most vulnerable: refugees and first-generation immigrants. Government officials have deemed them essential, but some say they're not being treated that way.

Luke Runyon / KUNC

The coronavirus pandemic has forced a discussion across the country about whose work is essential, and whose isn't.

Forced to choose which businesses remain open or closed, governments that less than a decade ago deemed cannabis illegal are now treating access to it as essential during the crisis.

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.

Pages