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NATIONAL PARKS-CAMPGROUNDS

Proposal seeks to modernize campgrounds at national parks

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Food trucks. Wi-Fi. Hot showers.

Those campground upgrades could be coming to a national park near you.

The Interior Department is considering recommendations to modernize campgrounds within the National Park Service.

The recommendations posted this week come from an advisory committee created under former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. It has been looking at ways for private businesses to operate on public lands.

Derrick Crandall is the vice chairman of the Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee. He says many campgrounds fail to meet visitors' expectations and allowing the private sector to run them would free up money for maintenance elsewhere in the parks.

National parks have more than 1,400 campgrounds combined. About 6% are operated by concessionaires.

Environmentalists say the proposal would price out some visitors and benefit special interest groups.

FEDERAL MINERAL ROYALTIES

US officials propose less paperwork for mineral royalty cuts

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming officials say they support reducing paperwork for miners seeking lower U.S. government royalty rates.

A U.S. Bureau of Land Management proposal published Friday would make it easier for companies to request lower rates charged for the right to extract certain government-owned minerals including trona and phosphate.

Trona royalties range from 3% to 8%. Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon says a 2% rate would help the U.S. industry compete globally.

Nearly all trona mined in the U.S. comes from Wyoming. Plants near the mines process trona into soda ash, a critical ingredient in manufacturing products including glass and detergents.

The U.S. trona industry has suffered amid competition from synthetic Chinese soda ash. Soda ash is Wyoming's top international export but the U.S. global market share has shrunk by one-third since 1998.

WYOMING RECORD PUMPKIN

Wyoming man grows 1,491-pound pumpkin, breaks state record

(Information from: Wyoming Tribune Eagle, http://www.wyomingnews.com)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming officials say a Cheyenne man has grown a pumpkin that weighs in at 1,491 pounds (676 kilograms), a new state record.

The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported Thursday that Andy Corbin grew the gourd in his backyard.

For perspective, scientists say newborn elephants weigh about 200 pounds (91 kilograms) on average.

Corbin says the pumpkins he grows at his east Cheyenne home require a handmade tripod to move them.

He says his pumpkins require yearlong maintenance and can gain dozens of pounds a day during growing season.

Corbin says he hopes to grow three pumpkins weighing more than 4,000 pounds (1,800 kilograms) combined.

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LIVESTOCK TRACKING LAWSUIT

Wyoming ranchers sue federal agency over new tracking rules

(Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com)

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming ranchers have sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture over new livestock tracking regulations.

The Casper Star-Tribune reported Thursday that ranchers filed the Oct. 10 lawsuit claiming an April guidance document from the agency puts unnecessary and burdensome regulations on independent cattle producers statewide.

The department directive says ranchers moving their livestock across state lines would be required to implant their animals with an electric tracking chip.

Department officials have said the tracking program would make it easier to understand where diseases and defects originate from.

Ranchers say the mandatory use of remote frequency identification tags come at a high cost that competitors in other states would be exempt from.

The Department of Agriculture did not respond to a request for comment.

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PIPELINE EXPANSION

Pipeline developer launches website on proposed expansion

(Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A Wyoming company is seeking permits and landowner permission to expand its pipeline network to carry crude from that state and North Dakota to a hub in Oklahoma.

The Bismarck Tribune reports Casper-based Bridger Pipeline LLC launched a website this week with information for landowners and others.

The proposed Bridger Expansion project included two separate oil pipelines. One straddles North Dakota and Montana and another is in Wyoming.

The 137-mile North Dakota-Montana "South Bend" line will carry up to 150,000 barrels of oil per day from in McKenzie County in North Dakota to Baker, Montana.

The 191-mile Wyoming "Equality" will transport up to 200,000 barrels of oil per day from Hulett to Guernsey, Wyoming.

The company says it hopes to have both lines in service by late 2021.

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BASEMENT BODY

South Dakota teen pleads insanity in Wyoming girl's death

STURGIS, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota teenager has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to a first-degree murder charge in the shooting death of a girl from Wyoming whose body was found in his basement.

Also Thursday, the 17-year-old entered a not guilty plea to an alternate second-degree murder charge.

The Associated Press isn't naming the defendant because his lawyer is trying to get the case moved to juvenile court.

The boy was indicted Wednesday in the killing of 16-year-old Shayna Ritthaler of Upton, Wyoming, whose body was found Oct. 7 in the basement of the defendant's home near Sturgis, where he lived with his mother.

Meade County Sheriff Ron Merwin has said Ritthaler was shot once in the head.

Investigators are trying to determine how the two met.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Associated Press

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