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PM News Brief: Grand County extends mask mandate, arrest near Zion National Park & monument restoration

Two red rock buttes covered in cedar bushes stick up over a cedar covered landscape.
Wild Earth Guardians
/
Creative Commons
President Biden is expected to soon restore Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments to their originally designated sizes. This story and more in Thursday evening's news brief.

Thursday evening, Oct. 7, 2021

State

NEPA Changes Could Impact Utah Projects

The Biden Administration announced changes Wednesday to the country’s long-standing environmental review law, reinstating protections rolled back during the Trump presidency. The National Environmental Policy Act requires federal agencies to study the environmental impacts of a project before deciding to do it. John Ruple, an environmental law professor at the University of Utah, said this is the first step in clearing up confusion created by the Trump administration. One change will bring back requirements to evaluate the impacts a project would have on climate change. Read the full story. Lexi Peery, St. George

Southern Utah

Utah Elected Officials Anticipating Biden’s Restoration Of National Monuments

President Biden is expected to soon restore Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments to their originally designated sizes. The Biden Administration hasn’t yet issued an official announcement about the two monuments. But Utah’s Congressional delegates and state leaders released statements Thursday expressing disappointment about the decision. Gov. Spencer Cox and other officials called the restoration “disappointing, though not surprising. Former President Donald Trump slashed the locations in 2017. He cut Bears Ears by 85% and Grand Staircase in half. Read the full story. Ross Terrell & Lexi Peery

Grand County School District Extending Its Mask Mandate

The Grand County School District is extending its mask mandate. It’s the only district besides Salt Lake to have one in place. In a letter to the community Thursday, school officials said they will continue to monitor case rates. Then after another 30 days, they could choose to extend or drop the mandate. The district noted the vaccine could be available to kids under 12 by the end of the month. Once it’s approved, they said the mask mandate would end after 60 days. — Jon Reed

Armed Man Apprehended Near Zion National Park 

An armed fugitive was loose in the towns just outside Zion National Park Wednesday evening. Shannon Alan Griffin was first seen brandishing a weapon in Hurricane. He fled the area after local officers attempted a traffic stop. Law enforcement later attempted to slow him down using tire deflation devices and lethal force on State Route 9 which leads to Zion. Griffin exited his vehicle and exchanged gunfire with officers. They later found him in the backyard of a home with a head injury. He was transported to St. George Regional Hospital in critical condition. Officers believe it was a self-inflicted gunshot wound. — Lexi Peery, St. George