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Encouraging communications on issues, trends and values of importance to Montanans.
East Side Of Wolf Mountain
Photo courtesy of Rick and Susie Graetz

About Mountain West News

Mountain West News (MWN) is a service of the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West – a regional studies and public education program at the University of Montana. The Center’s purpose is to serve as an important and credible resource for people in the state and region in understanding the region’s past, present, and future. In interpreting important social, economic, and cultural change and in planning for the future, regional awareness matters. With this service, our intention is to reliably convey to our readers each weekday and each week the region’s most important stories – stories about trends, events, and happenings that define life in the region and shape its future, mainly assembled from major newspapers and other sources throughout the region.

We began this service in February, 1999, under the name Headwaters News. Many of North America’s most important rivers have their beginnings in the high country of the Rockies, including the long Missouri which eventually flows into the Gulf along with the Platte, Arkansas, and Rio Grande; the Colorado, Snake, and Columbia which eventually drain into the Pacific; the Peace, Athabasca, and Saskatchewan which eventually drain into the Hudson or northern lake systems and a host of rivers that flow west through British Columbia into the Pacific. These river systems are monumental in scale and the water they carry down from the mountains extends the reach and influence of the Rocky Mountain West in all directions, sustaining plants, animals, people, and communities across the West.

While our region is an important headwaters region, it is only one of many such regions around the world. But only one of these is centered over the Rocky Mountains – the spine of North America. And this headwaters region is the Rocky Mountain West. So, early in 2012, we decided to change our name and became Mountain West News.

As our regional news service has developed and matured, our audience has grown and extended outward to every corner of the world. We go out to 5,000 subscribers each day by email and our web site is visited by nearly 200,000 viewers each month. Our readers include key staff with national and state agencies and departments, state legislatures, and congressional offices, as well as people in commerce and industry, conservation and environmental organizations, journalists, academicians, educators, and the general public. What our readers share is a love for this place and its places and a desire to keep abreast of our region’s changing storyline.

As the world becomes smaller through forces of globalization, regions of important interaction and interchange become larger, sometimes transnational in scale, like the North American Rocky Mountain West. Our stories cover the full breath of this region and its change. While reporting objectively, our work will always reflect a deep caring for our region -- its beauty and allure, challenges, and aspirations. We hope you enjoy, value, and support Mountain West News.

- Larry Swanson, Director, O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West

Mountain West News is a program of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at The University of Montana. It was started with a three-year grant from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and is currently funded by the O'Connor Center, a variety of major sponsors, and through donations from individuals and groups.

We provide a daily snapshot of news and opinion in the Rocky Mountain region of North America, giving the changing mountain West a tool to understand itself and a platform for the exchange of ideas. We welcome your comments.

Editor: Shellie Nelson received her journalism degree from the University of Montana in May 1996 and worked three years as a daily newspaper copy editor and page designer. She worked as Mountain West News' assistant editor from August 2003 until June, 2005, when she was named editor.

Director of the Center: Larry Swanson has a background in journalism, economics consulting, and policy analysis. He is a native Nebraskan with a Ph.D. in economics and community and regional planning from the University of Nebraska.

"H ow are we going to survive this year with the warmest, driest winter ever and a population we have never had before? The answer is that we need to focus on conservation and being more efficient. But we will make it because of dams and reservoirs that have been built. The storage from those dams is critical to support our lifestyle and the economy we have built. Any responsible person would say it is not reasonable in any stretch of the imagination [to dismantle dams]."

Richard Bay, CEO of the Jordan Valley Water Conservation District in Utah, taking a decidedly different view from Daniel Beard, a former Bureau of Reclamation official, who advocates for the removal of Glen Canyon Dam in his new book.
- Salt Lake Tribune

On The Bookshelf

Mountain West Perspectives
Montana's two-year colleges revamp education to meet changing workplace demands


A Look Ahead
Western Governors Association's Drought ForumRegister now for these webinars:

    April 8: “One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Why Variation in Hydrology and Legal Structures means that Drought Looks Different across the West”

April 1-May 1: Water in the American West, a free, online college level course, offered by The Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and Western Water Assessment at the University of Colorado. Register now.

Mountain West Voices
Hear weekly stories from the Rocky Mountain West as gathered by Clay Scott

Mountain West News is a program of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West

at the

The University of Montana