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AM News Brief: Utah Lake Algal Bloom, Zion Road Closure & Federal Drought Dollars

Green algae on top of Utah Lake.
Algal blooms that can produce toxins harmful to humans and animals are turning up in Utah Lake. This story and more in the Wednesday morning news brief.

Wednesday morning, July 21, 2021


Barriers To Higher Education In Prison

Most inmates in-state and federal prisons have access to a high school education, but it’s unclear how much college is available. Erin Castro is co-founder of the University of Utah’s Prison Education Project and co-authored a new study on higher education prison programs around the country. The first iteration looks at admissions, enrollment and funding for higher ed programs. It found private donations pay for a lot of education programs, but students still face major barriers with tuition costs and bureaucracy. Castro said having better data will be a crucial step in creating better education opportunities that reach more people and, ultimately, help reduce the prison population. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

Northern Utah

Utah Lake Warning

Algal blooms that can produce toxins harmful to humans and animals are turning up in Utah Lake. The Utah County Health Department warned that samples taken from the lake water on July 13 show that cyanobacteria cell counts have reached a dangerous level. The Daily Herald reported the warning came days after officials issued a similar advisory for American Fork Beach. County health officials said Utah Lake marinas will remain open for boat traffic. They advised avoiding water recreation at the American Fork Marina, Lincoln Beach and within the Provo Bay. Toxic cyanobacteria blooms were also discovered in the Virgin River and in the streams of Zion National park. — Associated Press / Pamela McCall

Southern Utah

Zion Road Closure To Deal With Flood Risks

The main road through Zion National Park will be closed four nights a week for drain clearing, beginning Monday, July 26 and continuing into August. Officials said the flash flooding that hit the park June 29 prompted the proactive approach needed during monsoon season. State Route 9 will be closed to all traffic through the park from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday through Thursday and will re-open for weekends. Meanwhile, June's flash flood damaged the O.C. Tanner Amphitheater in Springdale and it's been closed indefinitely. That forced the cancellation of the Zion Canyon Music Festival which was slated to begin Sept. 24. — Pamela McCall


Federal Money For Drought Relief

Top federal water officials say they’re trying to find new ways to help the West adapt to droughts made worse by climate change. In a virtual program Tuesday, Interior Department officials said they’re working to spend millions in relief for farmers and ranchers, on science and research, and new infrastructure. More than 56% of the Western U.S. is in extreme drought or worse, and records continue to be broken this year for high temperatures and dry conditions. — Luke Runyon, KUNC

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