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AM Brief: U’s response to racist incidents, oil and gas leasing & Canyon Overlook Trail construction

Canyon Overlook Trail, Zion National Park, May 2010
National Park Service
Canyon Overlook Trail climbs 163 ft. in a half-mile to the edge of Zion Canyon. From the end of the trail, you stand 1,000 ft. above the canyon floor and find sweeping views of the Towers of the Virgin, the Streaked Wall, and the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway switchbacks down below.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022


Another state of emergency in response to drought is likely

After another dry winter, Gov. Spencer Cox said Monday he’ll likely issue a state of emergency due to drought conditions again this year. Roughly 99% of the state is currently in severe drought or worse, and Utah’s total water storage is less than half of full capacity. “We really needed a wet year this year in order to get out of the hole that we were in last year, and we're just not seeing that materialize,” said Brian Steed, executive director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Northern Utah

Investigation scrutinizes U of U’s response to racist incidents

The University of Utah is working to bolster its response to racist incidents after an external investigation into the effectiveness of the current system. The report was triggered by multiple incidents reported in December and said only one Housing and Residential Education staff member was assigned to review all incident reports. It also included examples of breakdowns in communication between U offices because of a lack of automated procedures for sharing information. Witnesses also suggested a lack of training about a new reporting system launched at the start of the pandemic, among many other findings. U officials are working to solve the problems outlined in the report. — Leah Treidler

Southern Utah

Plans to update Zion’s Canyon Overlook Trail

Work is underway on Canyon Overlook Trail in Zion National Park to improve the trailhead, rehabilitate masonry and update or install handrails. The changes are meant to increase hikers’ safety. The project is expected to be completed by early June, and most work is scheduled for Monday through Thursday, so hikers can still use the trail most Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. — Leah Treidler


Fraction of public lands nominated by oil and gas industry reopen for leasing

The Interior Department is reopening lease sales on public lands, but the agency announced that it was 80% less acreage than the oil and gas industry nominated for leasing. The Interior also increased royalty rates. The Bureau of Land Management Utah state office announced Monday they will hold an oil and gas lease sale on June 28 for 160 acres in Uintah County. Interior officials said the leasing process will include Tribal consultations going forward. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

Rare overhaul of Idaho nuclear reactor completed

Scientists in Idaho have completed a rare overhaul of one of the world’s most powerful nuclear test reactors. Officials at the Idaho National Laboratory said Monday that normal operations are expected to resume later this spring at the Advanced Test Reactor following low-power system checks. The Department of Energy reactor has been down for about 11 months for a core overhaul done about every 10 years. Experiments at the reactor help the Navy’s nuclear-powered war fleet stay at sea longer, bolster NASA’s space exploration and advance life-saving medical treatments. The test reactor also supports efforts to build new and safer commercial reactors. — Associated Press

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