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AM News Brief: Protest Fines, Duchesne River Settlement & Sage Grouse Ruling

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill’s office was the target of protesters on Thursday after he announced a ruling that no charges would be filed against the officers who killed  Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal on May 23.
Ross Terrell
Last summer, protesters painted the street red in front of the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office and smeared paint on the building. Now, they are being ordered to pay $85,000 in restitution. This story and more in the Friday morning news brief.

Friday morning, June 11, 2021


“Now Is The Time To Get Your Kid Vaccinated”

Since COVID-19 vaccine eligibility for 12 to 16-year-olds opened up about a month ago, 43,000 kids and teens in Utah have received at least one dose. Michelle Hofmann, deputy director with the state’s Department of Health, said she wants to see even more children get vaccinated. “If you're a parent, now is the time to get your child vaccinated,” she said. “If you have questions or feel uneasy, that's OK. Talk to your doctor, get the information that you need to make an informed decision.” State health officials reported 313 cases of COVID-19 Thursday. About 48% of all Utahns have received at least one vaccine dose. — Tess Roundy

Northern Utah

Fines For Last Summer Protest

Last summer, protesters painted the street red in front of the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office and smeared paint on the building. Now, they are being ordered to pay $85,000 in restitution, according to a GoFundMe account set up on their behalf. They were protesting District Attorney Sim Gill’s ruling which found police were justified in shooting Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal. The six people were initially charged with felonies and potentially faced up to life in prison. Those charges were later reduced. — Emily Means

EPA Settlement On Duchesne River

The Environmental Protection Agency has reached a settlement to restore portions of the Duchesne River and floodplain on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation. In July 2019, landowners Karl and David Lamb allegedly engaged in unpermitted dredge-and-fill activities in violation of the Clean Water Act. The EPA said the Lambs used a track hoe to excavate materials from the Duchesne River and floodplain and that they partially constructed a diversion channel that ran onto a neighboring parcel held in trust for the Ute Indian Tribe. The agency said it is working collaboratively with the Ute Indian Tribe and the Lambs to oversee the completion of restoration actions ordered. — Pamela McCall

Southern Utah

Delays In Completing Internet Project For Navajo Students

The San Juan School District is still working on getting internet access to all of its students on the Navajo Nation. The project was supposed to be completed by the summer, but it ran into some delays. The school district received around $4 million from state lawmakers last year to build out the network. It involved standing up a number of large radio towers, as well as installing radio receivers on every student’s home. Almost all the homes have receivers at this point, according to the district’s IT director, Aaron Brewer, but only a third are active. Brewer says that’s because two of the radio towers still need power. Read the full story. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff


Judge Blocks Drilling In Favor Of Sage Grouse Habitat

A judge has halted plans for oil and gas drilling in wide areas of Montana and Wyoming. Idaho U.S. District Judge Ronald Bush ruled the Bureau of Land Management didn't adequately consider how the drilling would affect the greater sage grouse. Bush said the BLM should have also considered an option to defer drilling in the bird's prime habitat and ordered more study of the potential impact on the bird before drilling can go ahead. The environmental group Western Watersheds Project praised the ruling. BLM officials didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday. — Associated Press

Rule Changes For Endangered Species Act

The Endangered Species Act underwent several changes during the Trump administration. Now, the Biden administration is proposing to undo several of those measures, including bringing back a “blanket rule” which protects threatened species as if they were already listed as endangered. Many Republican lawmakers are pushing back, including Idaho Governor Brad Little. In a statement, Little said it will “undo years of progress in modernizing the Endangered Species Act.” But conservationists say Trump’s rule changes undermine wildlife and climate protections. The current administration will also revise a Trump-era rule that allowed officials to consider the economic costs of conservation when deciding whether to list a species. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

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