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AM News Brief: Controversial Mormon Historian Dies, Utah DACA Student Meets With Secretary Of Ed & County Looks For Water Savings

Photo of Jordan River.
Kelsie Moore / KUER
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Salt Lake County has committed to reducing its water use by at least 5% in county-run facilities in response to the state’s drought emergency declaration issued last month. This story and more in the Friday morning news brief.

Friday morning, April 23, 2021

Region/Nation

Undocumented Students Meet With Secretary Of Education

The U.S. Secretary of Education met with undocumented students and educators from Utah and other states earlier this week. It came five weeks after Congress passed the American Dream and Promise Act, which could provide a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients and Dreamers. Sinthia Rosado Veronica of Magna said this legislation could be transformative. “The passing of the Dream and Promise Act would allow a lot of us to breathe that sigh of relief that we've been holding in for so long. And a pathway to citizenship for those who came to the United States as children is life changing. It’s monumental and it’s really necessary,” Veronica said. The current act is being reviewed in the U.S. Senate. — Ivana Martinez

Controversial Mormon Historian D. Michael Quinn Dies At 77

Historian D. Michael Quinn has died. Quinn took on controversial topics dealing with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, while teaching at Brigham Young University from 1976 to 1988. He wrote frankly about plural marriage and Mormon magical world views, and was excommunicated from the Church in 1993 for his scholarship. Quinn later came out as a gay man and went on to publish books on the inner workings of Church leadership and finances. D. Michael Quinn died Wednesday night, but his family hasn’t shared further details of his death. He was 77 years old. — Elaine Clark

COVID On The Navajo Nation

One person has died from COVID-19 on the Navajo Nation since last week. The Navajo Department of Health also reported an additional 66 cases since last Thursday. In a press release, President Jonathan Nez said two variants of the virus have been found on the reservation. He said many of the new cases have been traced back to family gatherings, and reminded people that face masks, social distancing and other precautions are still required on Navajo lands. — Elaine Clark

Americans Remain Deeply Divided Over Gun Laws

A recent Pew Research Center study shows just over half of Americans want stricter gun laws amid the spate of recent mass shootings across the country. Adam Winkler studies gun policy at UCLA and said while 53% want stricter gun laws, 81% support universal background checks. “I think that actually it's much more helpful to look at the data on the particular reforms than to look at the general data,” he said. The survey arrives just as Colorado passed two new gun safety measures without the support of any Republican lawmakers. Winkler said this study shows that the legislators that voted in favor of the bills are more in step with public opinion. — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

Southern/Central Utah

Traditional Stories Shed Light On Endangered Desert Tortoises

Southern Paiute land in Washington County could hold some important information about Mojave Desert tortoises. To learn more, researchers are taking a holistic approach to studying this endangered animal. The project is called Pika’aya Tooveep or “Tortoise Country” in Paiute. Part of the endeavor involves students and wildlife biologists surveying the reservation for signs of tortoises, which isn’t usually allowed. Another aspect is collecting stories of the animals from elders. Glenn Rogers from the Council for the Shivwits band of Paiute Indians said this project will help connect younger generations to the tortoises and their elders. Read the full story. — Lexi Peery

Northern Utah

Salt Lake County Commits To Small Water Use Reduction — And Big Savings

Salt Lake County has committed to reducing its water use by at least 5% in county-run facilities in response to the state’s drought emergency declaration issued last month. Ninety percent of the state is experiencing extreme or exceptional drought conditions. County officials said by conserving the conservation measure could save at least 43 million gallons of water. Officials also challenged residents to do the same. They said if just a quarter of the people living in Salt Lake County reduced usage by 5%, it would save 2 million gallons a day. — Ross Terrell

TRAX Red Line Maintenance

The Utah Transit Authority is adding a bus bridge this weekend to shuttle riders along part of the TRAX Red Line. UTA is doing maintenance on the line between West Jordan City Center and Sugar Factory Road Station. It’s scheduled to start tomorrow and last through Wednesday, and the transit authority said people can expect delays between 15 to 30 minutes. Redwood Road will also be narrowed to two lanes southbound and one lane northbound, but officials said alternate routes are available. — Jon Reed

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