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News Brief: Utah County Government, Growing Higher Ed Funding & Natural Disasters

Photo of smoke rising from a dry mountainside.
Incident Information System
The Pole Creek Fire burns in September 2018 in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. The occurrence of natural disasters such as wildfires has increased dramatically in Utah over the past 40 years.

Tuesday evening, Jan. 7, 2020


Bears Ears Management

The Monument Management Plan for the Bears Ears National Monument has been in the works since 2018 and officials say it’s almost ready for the public to see. The plan lays out what’s allowed in the monument in broad terms, addressing everything from grazing to climbing to wood gathering. A second planning stage will begin once the plan is released. That will provide rules for travel, recreation and cultural resource protection. — Kate Groetzinger, Blanding


Choosing Utah County’s Government

Utah County voters will see a proposal on November's ballot to create a Mayor-Council form of government. Utah County Commissioners approved a resolution to add it to the ballot Tuesday in a 2-to-1 vote. The plan would create an elected mayor position and five elected county council members from various geographical districts. Public hearings on the proposal will be held in the Commission Chambers in Provo in coming weeks. If approved, it would go into effect in January 2023. — Caroline Ballard


Utah Among Top States For Growing Higher Ed Funding

A new survey found that Utah had the fourth highest year-over-year increases in higher education state funding in the nation. The Grapevine survey released Monday is part of a joint project between Illinois State University and the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association. It found that the state appropriations for higher education that Utah initially approved for this year — $1.2 billion — is a 10% increase from last year and a nearly 40% increase from five years ago. — Rocio Hernandez

More Natural Disasters In Utah

The occurrence of natural disasters in Utah has increased dramatically over the last 40 years. According to a report from the online lending company LendingTree, the state saw five natural disasters between 1980 and 1999. Between 2000 and 2017 that jumped to 23 natural disasters – an increase of 360%. The analysis came from FEMA natural disaster data. The states that saw the biggest increases were generally western states that have seen bigger and more intense wildfires in recent decades. — Caroline Ballard


Natural Disasters & Climate Change

The Trump administration’s latest National Preparedness Report is the first of its kind to completely ignore climate change. It mentions severe hurricanes, wildfires and floods but does not mention the role global warming plays in exacerbating those disasters. In a 2016 report, the Obama administration argued that climate change could damage the nation’s critical infrastructure and lead to increased food insecurity. Read the full story. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

Improving Access To Rural Broadband

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, along with senators from Arizona, Nevada and West Virginia, introduced a bill aimed at improving rural students’ access to broadband internet. The Connected Rural Schools Act would allow money from the Secure Rural Schools program to be spent on broadband and other internet accessibility technology. In a press release, Romney said a lack of access effectively prevents access to the resources students use to learn and succeed. — Caroline Ballard

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