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AM Brief: Attempted theft damages sculpture, Wasatch Front air pollution & wildfire intensifies drought

Photo of smog over Salt Lake City.
Brian Albers
Salt Lake City, Provo, Ogden and Logan all made the American Lung Society's list of most polluted cities in the U.S.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Northern Utah

U crime reporting problems during McCluskey murders remain unchanged

The University of Utah has not fixed crime reporting issues that were revealed after the 2018 murder of student Lauren McCluskey, according to a state legislative audit released Wednesday. It found the university’s housing department is not reporting some campus safety issues to the school’s police department in a timely manner, and that is negatively impacting public safety. The university said they’ve been investing in campus safety improvements, but there’s still more to do. But student group UnsafeU said the report’s findings are severe and the audit should have issued stronger recommendations to fix these issues. Read the full story.Sonja Hutson

Failed theft attempt damages Peace Gardens sculpture

Someone tried to steal a harp sculpture at the International Peace Gardens last week. They didn’t succeed but damaged the statue in the process. Salt Lake City’s Public Lands Department said it will temporarily remove it and a number of other artworks from the gardens so officials can repair the pieces and decide how to better protect them in the future. The harp sculpture is part of the Welsh garden plot and is in appreciation of “all those who have kept Welsh music and poetry alive in Utah.” — Leah Treidler


Early engagement is critical to help students pursue education after high school

Students not reading at the level they should be by the end of third grade are far less likely than their peers to pursue education after high school. That’s one of the findings of a report released Wednesday by the Utah Foundation. The report said students should be exposed to post-secondary education paths starting in elementary school — including mentorship, field trips and career days. It also said setting high expectations at home plays a key role in helping students get a degree or post-secondary certificate. School counselors can also have a major positive impact, but Utah’s counselor to student ratio last year was 547:1 — more than twice the recommended ratio. The report said increasing education after high school is critical, because the economic gap between people with a post-secondary degree or certificate and those without is vast. — Leah Treidler


Wasatch Front among worst areas for air pollution in the U.S.

Several cities in the Mountain West are among the nation’s worst for short-term air pollution levels, according to a new American Lung Association study. Wildfire smoke is an increasing factor but so is smog from growing urban areas across the region. Mountain West cities that were in the top-ten cities for ozone pollution included Salt Lake City-Provo-Orem, parts of the front range in Colorado and Las Vegas. Logan joined Wasatch Front cities on the list for worst short-term particle pollution. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

Charred forests could intensify drought

As wildfires intensify across the West, researchers are studying how scorched trees could lead to a faster snowmelt and disrupt water supplies. Without a tree canopy, snow is exposed to more sunlight. Specks of carbon from burnt trees also darken snow and make it absorb more light, which speeds up the melting process. Snow melting into rivers earlier than normal could leave less water flowing in the summer when it’s most needed. Researchers said the long-term effects of charred forests on snow could fuel the cycle of drought and wildfires. — Associated Press

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