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AM News Brief: Cedar Breaks Opens, Romney Proposes Salt Lake Study & Tribes Reach Out With Pandemic Aid

Cedar Breaks National Monument Flickr CC Daniel Gillaspia.jpg
Daniel Gillaspia
/
Flickr Creative Commons
The National Park Service re-opened roads through Cedar Breaks National Monument, pictured here, on Monday.

Tuesday morning, May 4, 2021

Southern Utah

Scientists Studying Glen Canyon

Most of Glen Canyon has been underwater for decades, but it is starting to re-emerge as Lake Powell recedes. Environmentalists have talked about restoring Glen Canyon ever since it was filled with water in the 1960s, according to Eric Balken, director of the Glen Canyon Institute. The group’s original goal was to drain Lake Powell and bring Glen Canyon back to life. But now, Balken said, nature is doing that. Seth Arens, an ecologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is informally studying the phenomenon. He said native plants and animals are returning to side canyons as the waters recede due to climate change and drought. And while it's unclear what that means in terms of land management and recreation, Arens said one thing is certain: the water is not coming back. Read the full story. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

Cedar Breaks Opens Roads Early This Season

The National Park Service re-opened roads through Cedar Breaks National Monument on Monday. Park service officials said it is happening earlier this year because of a limited snowpack and work done by Utah Department of Transportation crews. Visitors are warned to be cautious though as paths and overlooks may still be covered in snow and ice. The park service added that trails are still covered with snow and fallen trees, and crews will clear them as soon as possible. Summer services including restrooms won’t start operating until Friday, May 28 for Memorial Day weekend. — Pamela McCall

Northern Utah

Studying The Great Basin’s Salty Lakes

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-UT, is sponsoring legislation to study the Great Salt Lake and the saline lake ecosystems of the Great Basin. The bill, introduced with Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-OR, aims to look at problems that have been created by declining water levels. The saline ecosystems stretch across the West Coast and provide important wildlife habitat, and Utah’s Great Salt Lake is the largest of its kind in our hemisphere. The U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will conduct the study with the end goal of creating a monitoring and conservation plan for the saline ecosystem. — Elaine Clark

Hill AFB Night Flights Continue

Hill Air Force Base will continue its night flying operations through the third week of May. In a press release, Hill officials said flights will wrap up between 10 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. on weeknights. Pilots fly from the base in Davis County to the Utah Test and Training Range in the West Desert to maintain combat readiness. — Elaine Clark

Region/Nation

9th Circuit Considers Idaho Transgender Sports Bill

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Monday on a landmark case on transgender sports. It's deciding whether banning transgender women and girls from playing on women's sports teams is constitutional, though there is no indication yet on how the three-judge panel will rule. The case stems from a ban that Idaho put in place last year. Twenty states are poised to join Idaho's ban should the court upload the law. In Utah, a bill that would have banned transgender girls from competing on girls public school sports teams failed to pass this session. — Pamela McCall

Tribes Offer Foreign Pandemic Aid

Two tribal nations in the Mountain West are offering COVID-19 aid across international borders. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said the nation is sending masks and other protective equipment to India as it faces a devastating surge. Nez said at the height of the Navajo Nation’s coronavirus surge, the tribe received aid from overseas, including more than half a million dollars from Irish citizens. He said the tribe is now paying it forward. Some 1,000 miles to the north, the Blackfeet Nation in Montana estimates 98% of its adult residents are fully vaccinated, and it’s been offering shots to non-Natives in the broader community for weeks. So, the tribe has opened up vaccine eligibility to Canadians. — Savannah Maher, Mountain West News Bureau