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AM News Brief: Protecting Peregrine Nests, Getting The Latest Vaccine & Appealing Local School Boards

Photo of Zion National Park entrance.
iStock.com
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The annual active nesting season of Peregrine Falcons throughout Zion National Park has closed many popular climbing areas temporarily. This story and more in the Tuesday morning news brief.

Tuesday morning, March 2, 2021

State

Path For Parents To Appeal School Board Decisions

Parents would be able to appeal decisions of their local school board under a bill that passed a Utah House committee Monday. They would have to represent at least 4% of the student population and would appeal to a newly-created, five-member state board. Under “extreme circumstances,” the local school board could be stripped of its powers, according to the bill’s sponsor Rep. Steve Waldrip, R-Eden. At a hearing for the bill Monday, two parents in the Salt Lake City School District spoke in favor, arguing the new authority is needed to give parents a voice against decisions such as the one their district made to remain online for most of the year. Representatives from the Utah State Board of Education, Utah Education Association and Utah School Boards Association argued against it. — Jon Reed

Northern Utah

Senate Committee Approves Inland Port Infrastructure Support

For the past three years, the Utah Legislature has made tweaks to the state’s inland port project. This year’s bill, which passed a Senate committee Monday morning, creates a "bank" to distribute $75 million in loans for inland port infrastructure throughout the state. Jack Hedge, the executive director of the Utah Inland Port Authority, said it will help them expand outside the Wasatch Front. Some people who spoke against the bill criticized lawmakers for introducing it in the last week of the session, which is also what happened when the Authority was created in 2018. The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration. Read the full story. — Emily Means

Southern Utah

Dixie Name Change Bill Drops Mandate

The bill to change the name of Dixie State University is moving forward, but substitute legislation doesn’t require “Dixie” to be dropped. The House bill is sponsored by Rep. Kelly Miles, R-Ogden, who said the substitute was about striking a balance between those for and against the name change. Sen. Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork, who introduced the original bill in the Senate, said it now outlines the process of recommending a new name that better includes the public. Read the full story. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Zion Climbing Routes Close For Nesting Peregrines

The annual active nesting season of Peregrine Falcons throughout Zion National Park has closed many popular climbing areas temporarily. Park biologists said nesting pairs are known to abandon their nest site and not nest again until the following year if they are disturbed by human activity. Angels Landing, Cable Mountain, The Great White Throne, Isaac in the Court of the Patriarchs, The Sentinel and Mountain of the Sun are among those climbing areas closed. Park biologists said typically by late July the young birds leave the nest for the first time and cliffs will be reopened. Other climbing areas will be opened as officials determine which cliffs are not being used by the raptors for nesting. — Bob Nelson

Region/Nation

Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Efficacy

Health officials hope the newly-approved Johnson and Johnson vaccine will be a game-changer in vaccinating rural and homebound residents in our region. There’s some confusion over the shot’s efficacy, though. Some people worry it has a lower rate preventing moderate illness than the other vaccines, but health officials said what’s more important is its rate preventing severe illness and death — which is on par with the other shots. Health officials said people should not turn down the chance to take the Johnson and Johnson shot. — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau