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AM News Brief: Epic Rollerblade Journey, Drought Hitting Utah Agriculture & Millennials Driving Housing Demand

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Monday morning, July 19, 2021

State

Drought Hits Utah Agriculture Hard

Utah’s drought has forced farmers across the state to dramatically cut their water use — between 70 and 75% — according to Gov. Spencer Cox. At a press conference Friday, he said that will have a direct effect on the food we eat and on every aspect of the economy. The Utah Department of Food and Agriculture said farmers planted less hay this year, which caused prices to double over the last few months. Some ranchers have had to sell livestock because feed is too expensive. The department said it will take years for the state’s agricultural sector to recover. — Jon Reed

Remote Work Signals Growing Employee Leverage

Many people were thrown into remote work during the pandemic. Now, they’re looking for ways to do that work better. A course at Utah State University is getting attention and recently received a $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce. The increased adoption of remote work and more research around it are signs that employees are getting more leverage in the economy. It’s also giving Utah employers the ability to attract veteran talent that may not have been willing to move to the state. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

Northern Utah

New Mobile Air Quality Monitoring

The Utah Transit Authority is installing new air quality monitors on electric buses as part of a pilot program to track data in real time. The sensors will measure levels of PM 2.5, ozone and nitrogen oxide along two routes crossing the east and west sides of Salt Lake County. Officials said the monitors will help policymakers understand which communities are at highest risk of breathing unhealthy air and guide measures to reduce pollution. They say the project could be scaled up across Salt Lake County, which would create the most detailed pollution mapping system in the world. The data will be available online to the public following initial trial runs. The Utah Department of Air Quality has also used mobile air quality monitors on Trax lines. — Jon Reed

Utah Firefighters In Oregon

Two Utah firefighting task forces left for Bend, Oregon, Sunday morning to help wildfire efforts there. It’s part of the Emergency Management Assistance compact, an agreement between states to help out in emergency situations. Unified Fire Authority says 41 firefighters are heading up from 9 different Northern Utah agencies and will be gone for just over two weeks. The Northwest Interagency Coordination Center reports Oregon has had 26 major wildfires so far this year — with 440,425 acres burned — 93 times the acreage that burned last year. — Elaine Clark

287 Miles On Rollerblades

A man recently finished a journey from Jackson, Wyoming, to Salt Lake City — on rollerblades. The Jackson Hole News & Guide reports 31-year-old physical therapist Dusty Campbell finished the 287-mile trip in 47 hours, stopping only for a few quick naps along the way. The effort has so-far raised over $15,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit that helps veterans recover from mental and physical injuries. — Jon Reed

Region/Nation
Millennials Driving Housing Demand

A new Federal Reserve analysis found the tight housing market is a result of soaring demand rather than a low supply of homes for sale. Millennials taking the plunge into homeownership are driving that demand, and in the Mountain West, they’re paying steep prices. Home prices in the region rose by more than 20% from April of last year to this year. Economists attribute the millennial homebuying rush to the COVID-19 pandemic and changes in the economy, coupled with record-low mortgage rates. They say the soaring demand is outpacing construction efforts across the region. — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau