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.

Ways to Connect

Photo of a Navajo man wearing a black cowboy hat stands in front of a sign that says "Indigenous People’s Day."
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Students at Utah State University Blanding rose before dawn this morning to greet the sun with corn pollen in the Navajo tradition, before embarking on a 5k run to kick off the college’s first Indigenous People’s Day. 

A road with worn pavement and lots of patches.
Kate Groetzinger/KUER

SAN JUAN COUNTY -- As winter approaches, Navajo Nation residents in Utah say roads on the reservation are increasingly hazardous because of a lack of upkeep.

 

And they don’t know who to blame.

Photo of Navajo woman filling out form.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Updated 10:05 p.m. MDT 10/3/19

 

An upcoming special election in San Juan County has some Native residents worried they will lose representation in government.

Photo of Bears Ears Buttes.
Erik Neumann

Legal challenges to President Donald Trump’s reduction of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase national monuments may move forward, now that a federal judge has denied the Trump Administration’s requests that the cases be dismissed. 

Photo of Hovenweep National Monument.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Updated 11:30 p.m. MDT 9/30/19

Meeting in Utah for the first time ever, the All Pueblo Council of Governors passed resolutions last week calling for the protection of the Bears Ears region and pushing back on efforts to change the form of government in San Juan County. 

Two Navajo men face each other for a conversation during a commission meeting.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Following a five-hour mediation process on Friday, San Juan County has agreed to pay the Navajo Nation $2.6 million in attorney’s fees. The county is responsible for compensation after losing a voting rights case brought by the Nation in 2012. 

Photo of a sign welcoming people to the city of Moab.
Creative Commons

Most of Moab’s sewer and water lines were built more than 60 years ago, at the height of the uranium boom. Now, the town of around 5,000 residents is seeing a boom in tourism. On weekends, its population can reach up to 40,000, according to City Manager Joel Linares. This puts pressure on its infrastructure, and makes it more expensive to replace. 

Photo of oil pump.
iStock.com / DennyThurstonPhotography

Environmental groups are sounding the alarm about a process they say cheats taxpayers and favors the oil and gas industry. The Wilderness Society and Center for Western Priorities say Congress needs to pass legislation to reform the Bureau of Land Management’s oil and gas leasing program.

Photo of a street sign on a highway that reads "Sunny Acres Lane."
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

MONTICELLO — From the potential construction of a 13-acre truck stop to the conversion of housing into overnight rentals to the loss of their dark night skies, people who moved to Spanish Valley for peace and quiet say their way of life is under threat. 

Photo of a rock showing pictographs.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Conservation and tribal groups are criticizing the Bureau of Land Management for its latest oil and gas lease sale of more than 70,000 acres of public land in Utah. 

The sale, which occurred this week, brought in around $1.63 million, according to the BLM, more than half of which came from 32,027 acres in San Juan County.

The sale is the third since March 2018 to include land between Bears Ears and Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, much of which conservation groups say should not be leased. 

Photo of a brown wooden sign that reads "Manti-La Sal National Forest, U.S. Department of Agriculture" with some trees in the background.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Public lands are usually a divisive issue in Utah, but state and federal lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are working together to help counties secure annual reimbursements for federally-owned land. 

Photo of Huckabay looking out her window.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

This story has been corrected.

SPANISH VALLEY — When Marlene Huckabay moved to Spanish Valley in 1994, her two-acre lot was little more than a patch of desert with a tar paper shack surrounded by stark, red-rock cliffs.

Photo of a man and woman dancing together in the middle of a red dirt corral as children look on.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

At the White Mesa fairground in central San Juan County, about 50 boys and girls stand opposite each other in a red dirt corral lined with tall cedars. They’re ready to take their first steps in the traditional Bear Dance. But first, they need a partner. 

Photo of former San Juan County CommissionerMark Maryboy at a town hall meeting.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Efforts to change the form of government in San Juan County brought cultural and political tensions to the fore last week, prompting accusations of racism. Former County Commissioner Mark Maryboy, whose brother Kenneth is a county commissioner, called some residents who support the change in county government “racist Mormons,” adding, “They are all probably a member of the Ku Klux Klan.”

Photo of people marching at a rally.
Courtesy of Meskee Yanabah Yatsayte / Navajo Nation Missing Persons Updates

In response to advocates who say the Navajo Nation isn’t doing enough to help families looking for missing loved ones, the nation recently announced plans to improve missing persons investigations. 

Photo of commission meeting.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Updated 1:45 p.m. MDT 8/24/19 

A little more than six months after the swearing-in of San Juan County’s first majority-Navajo County Commission, long-simmering tension brought on by years of distrust, frustration and, at times, prejudice is bubbling over.

Photo of vertebrae in plaster.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

WHITE MESA — Just south of Blanding, researchers are excavating seven giant dinosaur vertebrae. They are part of a 70-foot-long diplodocus skeleton that will be on display at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Photo of bear returning to wild.
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Updated 1:05 p.m. MDT 8/13/19: Bear activity is up in 2019, according to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR). As of July, 29 incidents involving bears had been reported, more than double the number of incidents reported by the same time last year. 

Photo of Peavin Canyon Fire.
Courtesy U.S. Forest Service

The word wildfire tends to invoke fear, but some wildfires are actually good. According to the U.S. Forest Service, the Peavine and Poison Canyon fires currently burning in the Manti-La Sal National Forest will help the environment and act as future fire suppressants.

Photo of San Juan County courthouse.
Ken Lund / Flickr Creative Commons

The San Juan County Commission voted unanimously on Monday to take no further action in a Native American voting rights case that led to the redistricting of the county in 2017. 

Photo of construction at Zion National Park.
David Fuchs / KUER

ZION NATIONAL PARK — Just two miles from the town of Springdale, the South Campground at Zion National Park is a stunning place to spend the night: Shielded from the desert sun by cottonwood groves, the campsites are scattered about the banks of the Virgin River and framed against the backdrop of Zion’s towering, red rock canyon walls.

Photo of dancers performing the "Buffalo Dance" at Bears Ears.
Russel Daniels for KUER

BEARS EARS NATIONAL MONUMENT — Dressed in elaborate headpieces made to resemble bison heads, two Pueblo men circled and lunged at each other, their white moccasins kicking up red dirt from the ground. 

As the sun climbed high in the sky, they performed a traditional dance honoring the bison. The ceremony, which is usually held in winter, was the last in an hour-long ceremonial dance to celebrate the Pueblo people’s homecoming to a landscape where their forebears once dwelled. 

Photo of White Mesa Mill in Blanding, Utah
Flickr Creative Commons / Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Uranium mines in Southeast Utah will remain idle — for now — as President Trump has delayed a decision to impose a buy-American quota on U.S. nuclear producers that would have bolstered domestic mining. 

Photo of commissioners.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

The San Juan County Commission met in Monument Valley on Tuesday to conduct its bimonthly meeting. It was the first time the commission has ever met on the Navajo Nation, according to Commissioner Willie Grayeyes. More than 50 people attended the meeting, around two-thirds of whom were Navajo. 

Photo of audience.
Courtesy Jolene Holgate/Missing and Murdered Dine Relatives Co-coordinator

Navajo Nation officials are working to increase efforts to track the number of tribal members who are missing and murdered, as federal legislation to mandate data collection lags in Congress.

Salt Lake City teacher group photo
Rocio Hernandez / KUER

About a hundred Salt Lake City teachers, parents and community supporters rallied on Tuesday to demand better pay. Salary negotiations between the teachers’ union and the district reached an impasse two weeks ago.