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PM News Brief: Topple Trees, Lake Powell Pipeline & Utah Firefighters Headed West

Photo of a wildland firefighter.
Courtesy Office of Gov. Gary Herbert.
Utah firefighters are heading back to California to battle wildfires there. This story and more in the Wednesday evening news brief.

Wednesday evening, September 9, 2020

Northern Utah

Salt Lake City Lost Thousands Of Trees, But The Forest Will Regrow

Salt Lake City forester Tony Gliot estimates a thousand public trees were damaged in the wind storm that ripped through the area this week, along with another thousand on private property. He said many of the trees that were impacted were between 60 and 100 years old but this type of storm is to be expected. Gliot said wind events like this, just like a forest fire, are part of the life of any forest. Ultimately though, he said the city will replant it’s trees and its forest will regrow. Read the full story. — Elaine Clark

Utah Governor Declares State Of Emergency Due To Wind Storm

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has declared a state of emergency following the wind storm that tore through parts of Northern Utah Tuesday. Nearly 94,000 people are still without power as of Wednesday at 6:45 p.m., and clean up has begun along the Wasatch Front. Both the governor and Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall toured the Rose Park neighborhood after the emergency declaration. Mendenhall said the west side of town was hit hard during the storm. Farmington, along with Salt Lake City and County have also declared states of emergency. — Ross Terrell

State Lawmakers Weigh In On SLCPD Shooting Teen With Autism

Three Utah legislators have weighed in on Friday night’s Salt Lake City police shooting of a 13-year-old boy with autism. Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, and Rep. Sandra Hollins, D-Salt Lake City, said in a statement Wednesday they are “greatly concerned” with what took place. The three lawmakers said when people call the police, they expect “professional and compassionate judgement” especially when the situation involves a child with cognitive disabilities. The Salt Lake City Police Department said yesterday Tuesday they are investigating the incident and will cooperate with any other investigations that are launched. — Ross Terrell

State

Housing Industry Booming During Pandemic

Despite the coronavirus pandemic causing record unemployment and plunging most of the economy into a recession, housing is still a booming business in Utah. According to a report released Wednesday from the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, construction has become the fastest-growing major industry in the state — and one of only three that saw any job growth at all during the pandemic. The increase is largely due to high housing demand amid an ongoing shortage and record-low interest rates. Read the full story.Jon Reed

COVID Numbers May Remain Artificially Low

The Utah Department of Health reported 314 more cases of COVID-19 Wednesday. But officials said that number may be artificially low over the next few days, after several testing sites across Northern Utah closed Tuesday due to the wind storm. Over the past week, the state averaged 404 new cases per day, and the positivity rate stayed around 9%. Three more people have died from the disease, one was a long-term care facility resident, one was hospitalized prior to death, and one was hospitalized at the time of death. — Caroline Ballard

Utah Firefighters Head Back To California To Help

Utah firefighters are heading back to California to battle wildfires there. The 41 firefighters left from West Valley City Wednesday, and will be assisting for a little more than two weeks. Utah’s Division of Emergency Management said COVID-19 precautions and temperature checks will be enforced as they head out. California’s wildfire season is shaping up to be one of the worst in history with intense blazes currently spread across the entire state. Fires there are turning skies orange and have already burned millions of acres. Smoke from the fires has made its way into Utah over the past couple of weeks, creating hazy skies and poor air quality. — Caroline Ballard

Southern Utah

Lake Powell Pipeline Environmental Review Under Scrutiny

Six states that rely on the Colorado River are asking the federal government to slow down an environmental review for a controversial pipeline project in Utah. Water officials in Colorado, Wyoming, Nevada, New Mexico, California, and Arizona have concerns about the Lake Powell Pipeline. It would bring Colorado River water to fast-growing communities in southwestern Utah. In a letter to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, the other states say legal and operational issues with the proposed pipeline still remain. President Donald Trump signed an order this summer speeding up environmental reviews of certain infrastructure projects — including the pipeline. — Luke Runyon, KUNC

Region/Nation

Nevada Receiving Federal Pushback On Ballot Expansion

With November’s general election weeks away, states are looking for ways to safely expand access to the ballot amidst the pandemic. But many of those efforts are facing local, state and federal pushback, including from President Donald Trump who just narrowed his legal challenge to Nevada's efforts. — Paul Boger, Mountain West New Bureau

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