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AM News Brief: Vaping In Schools, Western Voters On Climate Change & Sage Grouse Management Plan

Photo of sage grouse.
Photo by Phil Douglass, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
The Bureau of Land Management published specifics about its 2019 sage grouse management plans today. This story and more in the Friday morning news brief.

Friday morning, Feb. 21, 2020

Southern Utah

River Flow And The Lake Powell Pipeline

Warming temperatures are causing diminishing flows for the Colorado River, according to a new study published Thursday. The report, authored by Paul Milly and Krista Dunne of the U.S. Geological Survey, suggests that climate change could lead to a 20% to 30% decrease in the river’s flow by the middle of the century. Some Utah water officials argue that climate change is partly why the state needs the Lake Powell Pipeline. But other water experts say the study’s findings underscore the need for extreme caution when it comes to adding new demands on the system. Read the full story. — David Fuchs, St. George

Correction 2/22/20 11:10 a.m. MT: A previous audio version of this story misstated Brad Udall's university.

'Smoking Ain’t Allowed In School'

A bill to help end vaping in schools passed the Utah House Thursday. It would allow school officials to confiscate and destroy e-cigarettes belonging to students. It would also add a health curriculum about the harmful effects of vaping. House sponsor Susan Pulsipher, R-South Jordan, said her bill targets the emotional, social and mental health factors that lead students to start vaping. It’s one of several this year aimed at combating the rising rate of e-cigarette use among teens. It now heads to the Senate. — Jessica Lowell


BLM Sage Grouse Management Plan

The Bureau of Land Management published specifics about its 2019 sage grouse management plans today. Those plans opened up more habitat areas for grazing and development. The BLM draft impact statements will be on the federal register for public comment until Apr. 6. They come after an Idaho judge stalled the plan last year, saying they violated the National Environmental Policy Act. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

Western Voters On Climate Change

A new poll released Thursday found voters in our region support action on climate change more than they did a decade ago. This is the 10th year privately funded Colorado College conducted this survey. The first time around, 48% of respondents answered yes, climate change is a problem requiring action. This year that number is up to 59%. In Utah, 64% of respondents identified as a conservationist. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

Four Corners Freight Railway

The Navajo Nation and New Mexico's San Juan County have entered into an agreement to pursue a freight railroad to serve the Four Corners area. That means cooperation between both governments to pave the way for rail service with the goal of improving the local economy. Over the last few decades, there have been several feasibility studies to examine proposed alignments of freight rail service to Four Corners. The rail system would be a short line intended to carry freight from the San Juan County, south through the Navajo Nation and to the established Interstate 40 corridor railroad. — Diane Maggipinto

Mother Arrested In Idaho Missing Children’s Case 

The mother of two Idaho children missing since September was arrested Thursday in Hawaii. Lori Vallow, also known as Lori Daybell, is being held on $5 million bail, according to Kau'ai police. Seven-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan haven't been seen since late September, and police in Rexburg, Idaho, believe the kids' lives are in danger. Police say Lori Vallow and her new husband Chad Daybell have lied about the children's whereabouts and even about their existence. — Associated Press

Correction 2/21/20 6:37 p.m. MT: A previous version of this post was misdated.

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