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PM News Brief: Indian Creek Climbing, Ute Indian Preservation Office & Drought Improvement

Indian Creeks / Bears Ears
Bureau of Land Management
/
Flickr
The Bureau of Land Management is lifting voluntary climbing restrictions in the Indian Creek corridor at Bears Ears National Monument. This story and more in Thursday evening's news brief.

Thursday evening, Sep. 2, 2021

State

Utah Afghans And Resettlement Agencies Prepare For More Refugees

Utah’s first Afghan Refugee arrived Tuesday night, with an estimated 500-600 more on the way. Resettlement agencies say they’re ready to assist when they arrive, though there isn’t much they can do to speed up the process. Afghans currently living in Utah, like college student Obaid Barakzai, worry their relatives won’t make it out of the country. He said his family’s home was damaged in the attack outside the Kabul airport and he’s been frantically contacting as many people as he can for help. Salt Lake City is one of 19 listed by the federal government as “welcoming” and “reasonably priced” for Afghan refugees, but the housing crisis does make it harder to help people resettle. Read the full story.Jon Reed

Utah Sets Another Recent High For COVID-19 Cases

Utah health officials reported 1,687 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday. That makes back-to-back days of setting new single day highs since late January. Twelve more people have died from the virus. One woman was between the ages of 15 and 24 and two more people were younger than 45. Nearly 500 people are currently hospitalized for the virus, and Utah has been averaging about 1,300 new cases a day for the past week. Both totals are higher than they were last Thursday. Right now, 23 counties in Utah are in the high transmission level for COVID19. — Ross Terrell

Utah’s Drought Situation Continues To Improve  

Around 88% of Utah is experiencing extreme or exceptional drought conditions, which is down from more than 98% last week. State water officials said the improvement is because of recent storms and cooler temperatures. Despite the additional moisture, reservoir levels haven’t changed much over the past two weeks. However, soil moisture this week is 14% above average for this water year. Wet soils help with accumulating snowpack which is important for refilling the state’s reservoirs. — Lexi Peery 

Northern Utah

Ute Indian Tribe To Establish Historic Preservation Office 

The Ute Indian Tribe will establish a Tribal Historic Preservation Office. It’s part of an agreement between the Ute tribe, the National Park Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior. It will allow the tribe to manage its own historic preservation efforts on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation. The federal government will now have to go through the preservation office for any decisions that would affect historic properties on tribal land. In a release, the Ute tribe said having authority over its own historic preservation strengthens their sovereignty. — Caroline Ballard

Southern Utah

Climbing Restriction At Indian Creek Lifted At Bears Ears

The Bureau of Land Management is lifting voluntary climbing restrictions in the Indian Creek corridor at Bears Ears National Monument. Climbers can now access all walls in the area. The restrictions had been in place through the spring and summer to protect raptor nests, including peregrine falcons, eagles and other birds of prey. According to a BLM wildlife biologist, at least two falcon pairs raised healthy chicks this season. But other nests there were not successful. Officials said that could be because some climbers did not follow the request to avoid certain nesting areas. — Caroline Ballard

Region/Nation

Biden Administration Reopening Oil And Gas Leases

The Biden Administration is starting the process of re-opening federal lands to oil and gas leasing. That comes after a federal judge ruled Biden’s across-the-board moratorium on the leases was an executive overreach. However, even though the administration is collecting comments for lease sales across the West, they still haven’t shown what kinds of new climate regulations they might put in place or whether they’ll even move forward with most of the leases. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau