Kate Groetzinger | KUER 90.1

Kate Groetzinger

Reporter, Southeast Utah Bureau

Kate joined KUER from Austin, Texas, where she attended the University of Texas at Austin’s Moody School of Journalism. She has been an intern, fellow and reporter at Texas Monthly, the Texas Observer, Quartz, the Texas Standard and Voces, an oral history project. Kate began her public radio career at Austin’s NPR station, KUT, as a part-time reporter. Now, she is a corps member of Report For America, a public service program that partners with local newsrooms to bring reporters to undercovered areas across the country. She’s excited to be living in and reporting on San Juan County, one of the most beautiful — and interesting — parts of the United States.

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 A sign in front of glass doors says “stop"
Kate Groetzinger / KUER News

The Four Corners Care Center in Blanding struggled to contain a COVID-19 outbreak last month after a staff member there contracted the virus.

Photo of a pumpjack in a valley with mountains behind it.
Bureau of Land Management / Flickr Creative Commons

Environmental groups are suing a Utah state board that distributes oil and mining royalties to communities impacted by natural resource extraction. The lawsuit, brought by Living Rivers and the Center for Biological Diversity, involves a proposed railroad that could increase oil production in the Uinta Basin. 

Two women hold cucumbers
Kate Groetzinger/ KUER News

The Navajo Nation has reported fewer than 100 new cases of COVID-19 each day for over a month, a sign that the pandemic may be letting up there. But life on the reservation has not begun to return to normal as quickly as in surrounding states. 

Two tourists window shop on Main Street in Moab.
discopalace via Creative Commons

Over a quarter of Grand County workers lost their jobs this spring because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to unemployment claims filed in April. But many county residents went back to work when tourists returned to Moab, and the need for food and housing assistance has declined. 

Photo of a man outdoors wearing a hat and holding a small frog
Courtesy of Robin Goodman with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

A veteran of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources will take over the state’s Bureau of Land Management next month. Greg Sheehan directed DWR for five years, before Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke tapped him to lead the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2017. He left that post a year later, after the Service suggested a rollback of the Endangered Species Act

Photo of dogs outside in Monument Valley
Joshua Rego via flickr

In Utah, 66% of households have completed the 2020 Census. But that number drops to 9.5% on the Navajo Nation, where most homes don’t have street addresses.

Photo of three people talking to each other
Bureau of Land Management - Utah via flickr

President Donald Trump rolled back much of the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, Thursday, saying it will expedite job-creating projects

San Juan County school board meeting.
Kate Groetzinger/ KUER News

School will likely look very different in the northern and southern regions of San Juan County this fall, given a stark split in parental preferences. 

The San Juan School District surveyed parents to come up with a reopening plan, which was approved by the school board on Thursday. Around 60% of parents in the southern region of the county said they prefer online learning, while over 70% in the north said they want school to resume in-person. 

Photo of the outside of a building that says "Four Corners Regional Care Center"
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Dalene Redhorse lost her dad and her grandfather over the weekend. Both lived at the Four Corners Regional Care Center in Blanding and tested positive for COVID-19 last week. 

a trail on Photo of a hillside overlooking downtown Salt Lake City
Michlaovic / Public Domain

Congressman Rob Bishop, R-Utah, has temporarily blocked passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, which would guarantee full annual funding for a popular conservation program Bishop has taken issue with in the past.

Rufus and Marsha Ellington
Kate Groetzinger/ KUER News

Warning: this report includes offensive language.

Updated 12:18 p.m. 7/8/20

Residents of Price and nearby Helper have revived calls for the Price City police chief to step down, due to concerns that he is racially biased. Calls for his resignation first came in 2017, after Brandon Sicilia, then a sergeant, posted derogatory comments about Black and Muslim people on Facebook, and again in 2019, when he was promoted to police chief. 

Photo of an American flag waving in front of a red rock cliff
WeMcLaughlins via iStock

Independence Day is often seen as a day to commemorate the founding of the country, to reflect on American values and celebrate freedom. But as protests against racial injustices and police brutality continue in Utah and across the country, some are marking the holiday by focusing instead on the progress they hope to see. 

A woman in a red vest looks at a display of missing persons posters.
Courtesy of Meskee Yatsayte

State and federal officials are launching new efforts to address the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Utah, after a nationwide study called attention to the issue in 2018. 

A group of people standing on the sidewalk.
Kate Groetzinger/ KUER News

Masks are a contentious issue in Moab. Local officials have pushed visitors to voluntarily use them since tourism resumed, but many visitors aren’t complying. Now, the Grand County Council is pushing to make face coverings mandatory inside all public places and businesses. 

Phot of a road sign
Joe Shlabotnik via Creative Commons

The City of Moab is asking the Bureau of Land Management to cancel plans to lease large swaths of public land around Moab to oil and gas developers.

Four people stand in front of a sign that says Diné Pride.
Screengrab via 24th Navajo Nation Council Facebook

Same sex marriage is not recognized as legal on the Navajo — or Diné — Nation, nor are LGBTQ people protected from gender-based discrimination by law.

Photo of a man walking toward the edge of the mesa
Guerric / Creative Commons

The Bureau Of Land Management has proposed leasing 114,000 acres of public land in Utah to energy developers, including land adjacent to some of Utah’s most iconic national parks. 

Photo of a man standing next to a truck holding a hose
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

The Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act passed the U.S. Senate on June 4, bringing thousands of Navajo families one step closer to getting running water in their homes. 

Photo of people sitting, kneeling and lying in a street with signs including “Justice For George Floyd.”
Kate Groetzinger/KUER

MOAB—Watching hundreds of people take to the streets in Moab on Friday night to demand an end to racial inequality and police brutality brought tears to Desirae Miller’s eyes. 

Photo of the lodge
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

The Navajo Nation has taken drastic steps to fight COVID-19, which has already taken more than 250 tribal members’ lives. Hotels on the Navajo Nation are only allowed to house essential workers, and the Nation’s president, Jonathan Nez, has also asked tourists to stay away.

Photo of the sheep
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

MONUMENT VALLEY, UTAH — Nearly 100 vehicles lined the road next to Monument Valley High School Monday morning. One by one they entered the school parking lot, where missionaries from the local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hoisted live sheep into the bed of each truck. 

A line of people on a sidewalk hold signs that say "She was my sister" and "Have you seen us? Pueblo Nations"
Courtesy of Meskee Yatsayte

In a first of its kind call Friday, a task force set up by President Donald Trump that focuses on missing and murdered indigenous women hosted a forum to discuss how the crisis is affecting Native Americans in the Southwest. 

Photo of a crowded sidewalk
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

MOAB — As Arches and Canyonlands national parks prepare to reopen this weekend, Gov. Gary Herbert has rejected a request from Grand County officials to limit overnight lodging. 

Photo of Tsosie standing next to posters of her classmates.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

MONUMENT VALLEY — It’s a bright and blustery day at Monument Valley High School, and the graduation decorations in the courtyard keep blowing away.

An aerial image shows two large ponds of uranium tailings with Sleeping Ute Mountain in the background.
Tim Peterson/LightHawk

When the White Mesa Mill was built in 1980, it was permitted to process domestic uranium ore for 15 years.

Two nurses wearing protective gowns talk to people in cars in a parking lot.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

BLANDING — While COVID-19 is ravaging the Navajo Nation in San Juan County, there have been fewer than 10 confirmed cases in Blanding, where less than 200 people have been tested for the disease. 

A woman in personal protective equipment stands in the driveway of a health clinic in Monument Valley.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

BLANDING – As a triage nurse in Monument Valley, Utah, Amber Rasmussen stands in the parking lot all day, testing people for COVID-19. 

On a typical day, she sees 20 to 30 patients, many of whom arrive at the Utah Navajo Health System clinic with severe COVID-19 symptoms. 

Photo of the arch
Jan Willem Broekema via Creative Commons

BLUFF — Business has completely dried up at Canyonlands Jeep Adventures in Moab. 

Picture of sign that says “La posada pintada,” with a small hotel and bluffs in the background.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

The Town of Bluff will remain under the red, high risk category in the Governor’s pandemic reopening plan. The state gave the town permission to continue implementing strict guidelines for businesses, as the rest of Utah moves from high to moderate risk. 

A winding river cuts through red rock canyons
Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance courtesy photo

The Bureau of Land Management is considering leasing over 100,000 acres of public land around Moab to energy companies, raising concerns about effects on both tourism and conservation efforts.