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PM News Brief: Boreal Toads Released, Little Cottonwood Canyon Petition & Western Wildfires

Photo of two hikers at Bryce Canyon National Park.
Renee Bright
/
KUER
Seven Boreal toads were released near Bryce Canyon National Park Thursday. This story and more in Friday evening's news brief.

Friday evening, July 9, 2021

State

Looking For A New Sport In Utah? Salt Lake City Ranked Tops For Pickleball

A recent study ranked Salt Lake City as one of the best cities in the country to play pickleball. The sport combines aspects of tennis and ping pong. Erik Gertler is a professional pickleball player and instructor and has been playing for over 30 years. He says now the game is exploding in popularity because it’s accessible to almost anyone. For Ellen Bacot who recently moved to an active retirement community, it’s helped her find a sense of belonging. Read the full story.Tess Roundy

State Employees Asked To Work From Home Due To Poor Air Quality

Utah’s Department of Environmental Quality called for eligible state employees to work from home most of this past week. Surge remote work days are part of a new effort to cut back on pollution and emissions from cars when air quality is poor. Air quality in northern Utah has been unhealthy for sensitive groups this week. It’s forecast to stay that way over the next several days. — Caroline Ballard

Northern Utah

Save Our Canyons Asks For Public Comment Extension

The environmental advocacy group Save Our Canyons is asking for an extension of the public comment period on the Little Cottonwood Canyon traffic plan. Last month, the Utah Department of Transportation released an environmental impact statement on two plans to reduce traffic in the area. The proposals include expanded bus service and widening the roads or a gondola.The public had 45 days from then to comment but Save Our Canyons is asking for that to be extended to 90 days. The group said it’s unreasonable for them to meet and comprehend the plan in such a short period of time. They also say the bulk of the comment period is happening during a popular month for travel. More than 2,800 people have already signed a petition asking for the extension. — Ross Terrell

Tabernacle Choir Returning To Live Performances At Temple Square

The Tabernacle Choir has announced its schedule for returning to live performances at Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ world-renowned choral group has performed for audiences for more than 150 years. They suspended all musical events in March of 2020 due to the pandemic. Daily organ recitals will resume July 19. The Tabernacle Choir will begin private rehearsals at the end of August. The group will perform at the Church’s October General Conference and will open rehearsals to the public later that month. — Elaine Calrk

Southern Utah

Seven Boreal Toads Released Near Bryce Canyon National Park

Seven Boreal toads were released near Bryce Canyon National Park Thursday. It was a joint effort between Loveland Living Planet Aquarium in Draper and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. It’s the first time the aquarium has released animals as part of population recovery efforts. The toad’s numbers have declined because of a fungus that thickens their skin, making it difficult for them to get enough water or oxygen. The alpine toad is listed as endangered in Colorado and New Mexico. It is a sensitive species in Utah. — Caroline Ballard

Region/Nation

100 New Wildfire Starts Across The West In A Single Day

At least 100 new wildfires broke out across the West Thursday as the region’s severe drought continues to deepen. The most recent U.S. drought monitor released Thursday showed that Montana only received about 25% of its normal precipitation in June. One national forest there recently had more than 800 lightning strikes in a single day. Meanwhile, crews are trying to contain nearly 50 large wildfires across the West right now. Prediction models from the National Interagency Fire Center show that forests and grasslands are losing moisture fast as heat waves continue to grip the region. Some areas in northwest Nevada and southern Idaho are breaking records for how quickly they are drying out. — Nate Hegyi, Mountain West News Bureau

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