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PM News Brief: Navajo Nation policing, Westerner’s conservation concerns & successful, optimistic critters

Mule deer bucks / BLM Utah
Brian Barnett
/
BLM Utah, public domain
Mule deer bucks near the book cliffs, July 25, 2017.

Monday, Feb. 21, 2022

State

Potential bonuses for teachers

Utah teachers could get a bonus for the extra work they did this winter during the surge of omicron variant COVID-19 cases. The Utah Legislature is considering spending $10 million on the proposal. During the height of the surge, there weren’t enough substitutes to cover all the teacher absences. Many teachers had to step in and act as subs for their coworkers. “What you had is, essentially, teachers working overtime without overtime pay. And so this $10 million would just kind of pay them back," said Sen. Lincoln Fillmore, R-South Jordan, Senate Chair of the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Southern Utah

Navajo Nation policing challenges

People who live in Monument Valley on the Navajo Nation have a long wait for the police to arrive. Utah's San Juan County Sheriff's office is two hours away, and it’s an hour to the nearest tribal police station in Arizona. There are only around 250 police officers for the entire Navajo Nation — an area just larger than West Virginia. Charlaine Tso, a tribal council delegate, told KZMU that hiring new officers is a challenge because of a lack of funding and trouble finding enough qualified recruits. Tso said this is happening as crime — especially sexual and domestic abuse — has been on the rise. — Justin Higginbottom, KZMU

Northern Utah

Animals that keep on the sunny side

Positive thinking could be the difference between life and death for animals who forage in the wild according to a study co-authored by Utah State University assistant professor Tal Avgar. The research looks at the decisions animals make about whether to explore new, unknown areas for food or stick to what they know. In a computer simulation, a fictional foraging animal made continuous decisions about where to go when food ran scarce. But — all things in moderation. Animals that were too optimistic or too pessimistic tended to fare worse. The animals with a mildly optimistic outlook had better health, reproduction rates and life expectancy. — Caroline Ballard

Region/Nation

More Westerners are worried about the environment

Mountain West voters are increasingly more worried about conservation. The latest Colorado College State of the Rockies poll found 70% of voters are concerned about the environment's future. Pollster Lori Weigel of New Bridge Strategy said that's a 30-point increase since 2011. The concerns include diminishing water supplies, oil and gas drilling and climate change. Nearly 90% of those polled said a politician's views on clean water and air — or public lands — play a large role in who they vote for. — Emma Gibson, Mountain West News Bureau

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