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AM News Brief: An ancient ‘fish-lizard,’ Washington County short-term rentals & Western homes at risk of wildfire

Ichthyosaurs.jpeg
Artist Ernest Untermann Sr. 1953, Courtesy Utah State Parks
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Paleontologists have recovered a partial fossil of an ancient marine reptile from the shores of Flaming Gorge Reservoir. This story and more in the Wednesday morning news brief.

Wednesday morning, Oct. 6, 2021

State

Saving energy leads to a ‘rebound effect’

A new study from researchers at the University of Utah found that human behavior is cutting into some of the gains brought about by renewable energy and other green technologies. It found, for example, that a 1% increase in renewable energy sources led to a roughly .7% decrease in carbon emissions. But if the comparison was narrowed to residential housing alone, emissions went up, suggesting that people are counteracting the benefits of cleaner energy by consuming more. The study’s lead author Lazarus Adua said the findings suggest technological advances alone won’t be enough to keep climate change from continuing to affect the planet. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

Ancient fish-lizard recovered

Paleontologists have recovered a partial fossil of an ancient marine reptile from the shores of Flaming Gorge Reservoir. It’s called an ichthyosaur, which means fish-lizard, and it swam in a warm sea in Northeastern Utah some 10 million years before the dinosaurs of the area. It’s not the first ichthyosaur specimen to be found in Utah, but it is one of the better ones. It includes a nearly complete forefin, 10 ribs and 19 vertebrae. The specimen was found by a boater who left it in place and sent photos to state scientists. Right now it’s embedded in a 400-pound sandstone block, and lab workers will uncover more of the bones to study them. Later, it will be on display at the Utah Field House of Natural History in Vernal. — Elaine Clark

Poaching incident in Rich County

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is investigating an illegal killing of a buck deer near Meadowville in Rich County. DWR was alerted to the wasting remains on Sept. 4. It appears the buck was shot by an archer who was likely trespassing at the time. Wildlife Resources said that last year there were more than 1,000 illegally killed animals in the state. — Elaine Clark

State job fair

Utah’s Department of Workforce Services is hosting a free virtual job fair Thursday. There’ll be more than 100 employers on hand representing fields like health care, banking and government. The unemployment rate in the state stands at just 2.6%. Liz Carver, director of the Workforce Development Division, said in a press release that there is a “substantial need for workers.” The fair runs Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and job seekers are asked to pre-register at jobs.utah.gov. — Elaine Clark

Southern Utah

Washington County tightens short-term rentals rules

Washington County will now have stricter regulations for short-term rentals in unincorporated parts of the county. The commission unanimously approved an ordinance Tuesday that requires short-term rentals to be owner occupied and limits the size of the buildings. In the spring, the county enacted a moratorium on all new rentals so they could update the code. The issue has sparked debates among public officials and rental owners about property rights. Commissioners said they needed to look out for the neighbors of large Airbnbs in the area. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Region/Nation

Homes at risk of wildfire in the West

Wyoming and Idaho have a disproportionate amount of homes at risk of wildfire according to a new report by financial services company CoreLogic. Researchers used catastrophe modeling to see how many homes in wildfire-prone states are in danger of being damaged by a fire in a single year. In Wyoming, that number is 821 homes or .29% percent of the housing stock. In Idaho, it’s .22%. Those findings are significant compared to other states. Lead author Tom Larsen said local and state agencies need to work with homeowners to prevent loss or damage. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

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