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AM News Brief: Colorado Gray Wolf Pups, Increased Drilling Approvals & Little Cottonwood Comment Period Extended

wolfpup.png
Hilary Cooley/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Colorado has its first litter of gray wolf pups since the 1940s. The pup pictured here is not part of the Colorado litter. This story and more in Tuesday morning’s news brief.

Tuesday morning, July 13, 2021

Northern Utah

More Time To Weigh In On Little Cottonwood Traffic Plan

The Utah Department of Transportation has extended the public comment period on the Little Cottonwood traffic plan to 70 days — ending Sept. 3. The public had initially been granted 45 days, but the environmental advocacy group Save Our Canyons had asked that to be extended to 90 days. In late June, the transportation department 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. An open house and the first of two public hearings will be held Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. at Butler Middle School in Cottonwood Heights. It will also be live-streamed on social media. — Pamela McCall

Critics Say New Civilian Review Board Doesn’t Have Enough Authority

The South Salt Lake City Council recently voted to create a civilian review board for its police department. The decision stems from last year’s protests against police brutality. The new board will review investigations into use of force and can recommend policy changes to the mayor. City leaders and the chief of police think it will help build trust between law enforcement and community members, but some activists say civilian review boards don’t have enough authority. South Salt Lake’s board will have seven voting members who will have been reviewed by an independent selection committee. The mayor will then appoint the members and submit them to the council for approval. Read the full story. — Emily Means

Region/Nation

Drilling Approvals On The Rise

U.S. drilling approvals have increased under the Biden administration despite his pledge to fight climate change. The Associated Press analyzed government drilling data and found approvals for companies to drill for oil and gas on U.S. public lands are on pace to reach their highest level since George W. Bush was president. The AP said its findings underscore President Joe Biden's reluctance to more forcefully curb climate changing emissions from fossil fuels. It cites industry pressure and Republican resistance as reasons for that approach. The Interior Department approved about 2,500 permits to drill on public and tribal lands in the first six months of the year. That includes more than 2,100 approvals since Biden took office Jan 20. The largest number of approvals were in New Mexico and Wyoming. Montana, Colorado and Utah had hundreds each. — Associated Press

Co-Managing Public Lands

Many tribal nations in the Mountain West are seeking a more meaningful role in the management of public lands. New research from the University of Montana laid out a framework for successful collaborations and found that when tribes have a seat at the decision-making table — public lands are better protected. Co-authors from the university’s Indian Law Clinic and College of Forestry and Conservation said co-management isn’t just about righting historical wrongs — it’s about tapping into a well of traditional ecological knowledge that federal agencies sometimes lack. — Savannah Maher, Mountain West News Bureau

Gray Wolf Pups First Colorado Litter In Decades

There are six pups in Colorado’s first litter of gray wolves since the 1940s. Colorado Parks and Wildlife said staff spotted the pups living in a den with two collared wolves known as John and Jane in northern Colorado. The agency first announced June 9 that staff had spotted three pups in the pack. The discovery comes after Colorado voters narrowly approved a ballot measure last year that requires the state to reintroduce the animal on public lands in the western part of the state by the end of 2023. Gray wolves were hunted, trapped and poisoned into extermination in Colorado in the 1940s. — Associated Press