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AM News Brief: Flash Floods, Highway Litter & Biking Trails

Photo of Zion National Park entrance.
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Zion National Park closed its canyons Tuesday because of a flash flood warning issued for much of Southern Utah. This story and more in the Wednesday morning news brief.

Wednesday morning, June 30, 2021

State

Highway Litter Means Crashes, Clean-up Costs

Utah’s Department of Transportation wants people to stop littering on the state’s roads and highways. UDOT said they picked up more than 32,000 gallons worth of debris off roads just in the Salt Lake area in June. Debris causes about 1,800 crashes per year in Utah, and officials said that number has gone up in the past few years. More litter means more costs. UDOT said it spends about $2.5 million a year to get things like ladders, mattresses and other garbage off the road. — Ross Terrell

Southern Utah

Southern Utah Flash Flood Warnings

Zion National Park closed its canyons Tuesday because of a flash flood warning issued for much of Southern Utah. The National Weather Service issued the warning for Hildale, Zion National Park and other areas near the Utah-Arizona border. Park officials closed access to The Narrows, the tightest section of the canyon, until further notice. Zion tweeted that due to flash flooding and an active technical search and rescue operation, SR-9 in the park was closed to inbound traffic. Nearby in Hildale, Mayor Donia Jessop said a large flood did come through the town and a few basements were flooded, but she says mitigation work has been successful so far. Another flash flood in Hildale washed away several cars in 2015, killing at least a dozen people. — Associated Press/Pamela McCall

Pack Creek Fire Impacts Moab Area Biking Trails

Moab’s mountain biking community is feeling the effects of the Pack Creek Fire, which has burned nearly 9,000 acres in the La Sal Mountains. It started after a campfire was left unattended. Community station KZMU reports popular biking trails like Burro Pass and portions of The Whole Enchilada are closed, as are campgrounds in the national forest. Ryan Lowe of the retail and rental shop Bike Fiend in Moab said it’s impacting local business. He’s also worried about the future of these trails. “[The area] has been closed for two weeks now,” he said. “And [there’s] a lot of uncertainty as to if the trails are going to be destroyed and when it’s going to be open again.” Lowe said for now, bikers are being dropped off lower on the mountain or they’re being sent to the desert. Officials are still searching for who started the fire. — Ashley Bunton, KZMU Moab

Follow KUER’s coverage of Utah’s 2021 Fire Season.

State Releases Name Of Possible Prison Homicide Victim

The Utah Department of Corrections has released the name of the inmate whose death is being investigated as a possible homicide. Dale Lee Rush was found unresponsive in his cell at the Henry Facility at the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison Monday morning, and was pronounced dead following a medical evaluation. Rush had been incarcerated since 2001 and was serving a sentance related to child sex crimes. His death is being investigated by the Utah State Bureau of Investigation. — Pamela McCall

Region/Nation

Lori Daybell Indicted In Ex-Husband’s Death

Lori Vallow Daybell has been indicted on a charge of conspiring to murder her ex-husband Charles Vallow in 2019. Daybell was already charged with conspiring with her new husband Chad Daybell to kill her two children, and a judge in Idaho has committed her to a mental health facility. The bodies of the two were found buried in Chad Daybell's yard. The two children had been at the center of a grim saga involving bizarre doomsday beliefs and a months-long search. — Associated Press