Wyoming news briefs for September 17


Yellowstone worker burned near Old Faithful

JACKSON — A 19-year-old working in Yellowstone National Park concessions suffered the first significant thermal-burn injuries of the year early Thursday morning near Old Faithful. 

Rangers provided initial care to the woman, from Rhode Island, for second- and third-degree burns to 5% of her body. Due to the injuries, she was taken by ambulance to West Yellowstone and then life-flighted to the Burn Center at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, according to a National Park Service news release. 

This incident is under investigation, and no further information was available on the woman's condition since she was transported to a hospital outside of the park, park spokesperson Morgan Warthin said.

The ground in hydrothermal areas is fragile and thin, and there can be scalding water just below the surface.

"Everyone must always remain on boardwalks and trails and exercise extreme caution around thermal features," Warthin cautioned. 

While not common, severe thermal burn injuries can and do happen in the busy park. In 2020, a three-year-old suffered second-degree-thermal burns to the lower body and back, and an adult visitor (who illegally entered the park) fell into a thermal feature at Old Faithful while backing up and taking photos.

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LCCC employees required to wear masks

CHEYENNE — Masks will be required indoors, including inside vehicles, for employees at Laramie County Community College after a recent surge in COVID-19 cases across the county, as well as a lack of initiative from staff to report their vaccination status.

The requirements will stay in place until one of two conditions are met.

Masks will return to a recommendation for faculty when Laramie County COVID-19 transmission risk levels lower to at least moderate. The county is currently at the highest risk level.

The other condition is when LCCC verifies at least 80 percent of its regular, benefited faculty is fully vaccinated. As of Thursday, 56 percent of full-time employees have reported being vaccinated, but this percentage is greatly impacted by the fact only 214 out of the 364 have reported their status.

In order to reverse the mask mandate, at least 291 employees will need to verify they are fully vaccinated.

“We want our faculty and staff to feel safe and be safe, whether they are vaccinated or not,” LCCC President Joe Schaffer said. “And so we know that two things are going to help them do that: vaccination and mask wearing.”

Schaffer said the decision to update protocols was made in solidarity with educational partners at the K-12 level and the University of Wyoming. 

Although employees will be required to mask up, students will still only have a strong recommendation from school officials to wear a mask.

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Algae bloom advisory issued for Keyhole State Park

GILLETTE — Recreational use and toxin advisories went into effect at Keyhole State Park this month after more of the harmful cyanobacterial blooms, otherwise known as blue-green algae, were spotted in two separate parts of the reservoir last month.

Recreational use advisories were issued on Aug. 19 for the Rocky Point and Wind Creek areas of the reservoir, based on samples collected Aug. 16, according to the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality map of statewide algae blooms.

The bloom advisories in Keyhole are two of 26 harmful cyanobacterial bloom advisories issued throughout Wyoming this summer.

Those same Keyhole blooms also warranted toxin advisories, which were issued on Sept. 3 and indicate the algae bloom samples tested conclusively for dangerous levels of toxins, which also means that people and pets should avoid contact with the blooms.

The toxin advisories at Keyhole are two of five toxin advisories issued by the state Department of Environmental Quality this summer.

Park goers and their animals are advised to avoid water in the areas with harmful cyanobacterial blooms. The park remains open through the advisories, which remain in place until the blooms dissipate or the end of summer recreation season comes on Sept. 30.

The blooms, which also occurred in Keyhole Reservoir last August, more typically occur in late summer when a combination of warm temperatures and still water create an environment for the bacteria to proliferate.

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