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PM News Brief: Relisting Gray Wolves, Pride Center Exits & Climate Emergency

Close up photo of gray wolf sitting in grass.
Wikimedia Commons
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Seventy conservation groups in the Mountain West, including one in Utah, have signed a petition asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to classify grey wolves as endangered. This story and more in Thursday evening's news brief.

Thursday evening, July 29, 2021

State

Gov. Spencer Cox Announces New Plans To Help Address Drought

Nearly all of Utah is in an extreme drought. On Thursday, Gov. Spencer Cox announced four policies he wants implemented to more aggressively conserve water. He said water conservancy districts have reported big savings in water usage across the state compared to past years, but Utah needs to do even more to address its dry conditions. One of the proposals is statewide metering for secondary water. Another option is a statewide turf buyback program, which would incentivize people to swap out their lawns for more water-wise landscaping. Read the full story. Emily Means

Two Leaders Of Utah Pride Centers Leave

Leaders of two pride centers in Utah left their posts this week. CEO of the Utah Pride Center, Rob Moolman, officially left Wednesday. He led the group for the past three and a half years. The center said Moolman asked for his departure to be expedited and the board accepted. A lawsuit against the Utah Pride Center is currently underway. Former staffers accused management of discrimination and retaliatory behavior. Officials said he’s leaving the center in the “soundest position it has been in for many years.” The Pride of Southern Utah also announced this week its executive director Stephen Lambert would be stepping down. Lambert accepted a new job in Seattle. — Ross Terrell

Utah’s COVID-19 Situation Worsens

The Utah Department of Health reported 1,113 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday. That’s the highest daily total since mid-February. The test positivity rate is also now over 10% — the highest it’s been since January. At its lowest, the positivity rate was around 3% in mid-April. In a statement, Gov. Spencer Cox called the numbers another step in the wrong direction. He said this is now a pandemic of the unvaccinated, calling it tragic. He urged people to get a vaccine to protect themselves and others. So far, 46% of all Utahns are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. — Caroline Ballard

Region/Nation

Climate Emergency Worse Now Than In 2019

The climate change crisis is even worse than it was two years ago according to a group of over 13,000 scientists who added their signatures to a report published in BioScience on Wednesday. Two years ago, the group released a similar report. They’ve since tracked 31 variables, like greenhouse gases and ocean changes and found that over half of those are at new all-time record lows or highs. The lead author of the study said they are “suggesting in our paper that we think about big transformative changes, rather than small, incremental things.” That includes eliminating fossil fuels and switching to mostly plant-based diets. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

Conservation Groups Want Gray Wolf Relisted As Endangered

Seventy conservation groups in the Mountain West, including one in Utah, have signed a petition asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to classify grey wolves as endangered. They were removed from the list last year by the Trump Administration. Wildlife officials said then, the animals were a conservation success story. The move meant the wolves would be managed by state and tribal governments. The petition argues Gray wolves are close to extinction in places like Montana, Idaho and Wyoming and that a lack of hunting and trapping regulations in those states are to blame. — Ross Terrell