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PM News Brief: Human Wildfire Behavior, Police Reform Movement & Rep. Curtis Town Hall

A photo of Rep. John Curtis holding a microphone.
Emily Means
/
KUER
Rep. John Curtis, R-UT, took some heat from constituents Monday night during his town hall in Sandy. Many people who spoke asked about the Jan. 6 insurrection and why Republicans still support former President Donald Trump. This story and more in Tuesday evening's news brief.

Tuesday evening, May 25, 2021

State

The Key To Containing Wildfires Will Be Human Behavior

Utah fire and elected officials are asking residents to change their outdoor behavior to cut down on human-caused wildfires. The request comes after a spike in the number of events started by people. So far this year there have been 227 fires in Utah that have burned 8,400 acres. All but eight of them have been human-caused. This year is already well above average in the number of starts and acres burned compared to the last five years. Officials are asking people to be careful near dry vegetation when dealing with things like campfires, debris burning and fireworks. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Southern Utah

Conservation Groups Push Back Against Drilling Near Dinosaur National Monument

Conservation groups are upset by a proposal to drill for oil on federal public land less than a mile from Dinosaur National Monument. The two proposed oil wells would be visible from the monument, and a road to access them would cut through mule deer and sage grouse habitat, according to Cory MacNulty with the National Parks Conservation Association. The land was leased with a caveat that prohibits surface development, according to Landon Newell, an attorney with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. But the BLM is letting it move forward anyway. Read the full story. Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

Northern Utah

Utah Against Police Brutality Reflects On Year Since George Floyd’s Death

A year ago, George Floyd was murdered by police on the streets of Minneapolis. Just a few days after his death, Utah Against Police Brutality hosted the first of dozens of protests in Salt Lake City. Carly Haldeman is an organizer with the group. She said just because marches have died down doesn’t mean the work for police reform has stopped. “There's always going to be haters,” she said. “But if we just keep focusing on organizing around the issues and campaigning around the issues, that's all that matters. And the people who were just out there for the summer, for the camera opp, we're going to continue with or without them because Black Lives Matter.” She said their main goal now is to set up civilian oversight boards for police in Utah to hold them accountable. — Ross Terrell

Ground Broken On “Utah’s Biggest Highway Project”

State officials broke ground Tuesday on what they’re calling Utah’s biggest highway project. The West Davis Highway will be a 16-mile, four-lane highway. It’ll run from West Point in Northwest Davis County down to Farmington. Utah Department of Transportation officials said the project is needed to accommodate future growth in the state. They predict it will reduce delays on local roads by more than 30%. The project is expected to be completed by 2024. — Jon Reed

Rep. John Curtis Takes Some Heat During His Town Hall

Rep. John Curtis, R-UT, took some heat from constituents Monday night during his town hall in Sandy. Many people who spoke asked about the Jan. 6 insurrection and why Republicans still support former President Donald Trump. Curtis told them the best thing to do about Trump was to forget about him. “This anger that you’re holding is so unhealthy,” he said. “[Trump] didn’t win, by the way. Let’s move on. You’re giving him exactly what he wants.” He said he wouldn’t categorize the former president as good or bad. Curtis recently joined Rep. Blake Moore, R-UT, in voting to create a commission to investigate the insurrection. Utah’s other representatives, Chris Stewart and Burgess Owens, voted against it. — Emily Means

Region/Nation

Sen. Romney Voices Support For Insurrection Commission

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-UT, said he will support a measure to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. The House passed a bill last week to create a commission to look into the incident. It will now be considered by the Senate but without broad Republican support it could fail. Hundreds of people have been arrested for participating in the storming of the capitol. Former President Donald Trump was impeached by the House for inciting the riot. Romney was the first Republican Senator to voice his support for the bill. He also voted in favor of impeaching former president Trump for inciting an insurrection. — Caroline Ballard

Ammon Bundy To Run For Idaho Governor

Anti-government leader Ammon Bundy has filed paperwork to run for Idaho governor in 2022, one of a flurry of recent political moves by far-right figures in the state. Bundy has led two armed standoffs with federal agents and heads the anti-government People’s Rights network. He’s also been critical of pandemic measures taken by Idaho’s Republican Governor Brad Little. Little is expected to run for re-election. Read the full story.Heath Druzin, Boise State Public Radio