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AM News Brief: Downwinder meetings, runners stranded in snow & Bear Fire still smoldering

Photo of smoke from the Bear Fire in Carbon County.
Courtesy UtahFireInfo.gov
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The Bear Fire in Carbon County continues to smolder after starting over three months ago. That story and more in this morning's news brief.

Monday morning, Oct. 11, 2021

Northern Utah

Runners stranded in surprise snow storm

Dozens of runners in a long-distance trail race in northern Utah had to be rescued over the weekend after they were caught in an unexpected snow storm. None of the 87 or so runners rescued Saturday had to be hospitalized, but Davis County Sheriff Kelly Sparks said several were treated for hypothermia and one was hurt in a fall. Runners said they expected rain, but that it turned to snow as the temperature fell below freezing. The 50-mile race took place in the Francis Peak area between Ogden and Salt Lake City. KSL-TV reported rescuers using vehicles and snowmobiles got all the runners off the mountain by mid-afternoon. — Associated Press

Small town growth pains

A proposed housing development in Salem would bring in 2,000 more units to town. It’s set to create a mixed density community on the BYU Farm — a 700-plus acre lot currently in the process of being annexed into the city. Last week, Salem residents voiced their opposition to D.R Horton’s proposed development and the annexation at a city council meeting. They argued that Salem, as a small agricultural town, doesn’t have the infrastructure to support it. Dejan Eskic, a senior research fellow at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, said it’s not a new trend to see more developers pop into rural towns to build, especially as Utah faces a housing crisis. Read the full story. — Ivana Martinez

Southern Utah

Bear Fire still smoldering

The Bear Fire in Carbon County continues to smolder after starting over three months ago. State officials said it happened near historic mining operations, and a coal refuse pile is part of the burn. They’re warning people to be aware of the coal fires, which can create unstable ground and temperatures up to 700 degrees. The Bear Fire burned over 12,000 acres after being sparked by lightning on July 8. Officials said diverse landscapes, drought conditions and mining operations in the area have made it difficult to completely extinguish it. — Lexi Peery

Washington County sheriff to retire

Washington County Sheriff Cory Pulsipher announced this weekend he will retire in December. In a Facebook post, Pulsipher said he’s been in the department for 35 years, including three terms as the elected sheriff. He’s also been battling what he calls “serious health issues for some time.” His Undersheriff James Standley is also retiring from the department. Pulsipher announced Nate Brooksby, currently the chief deputy, would be the new undersheriff. — Lexi Peery

Downwinder informational clinics

Intermountain Healthcare is sponsoring a series of informational meetings in Southwest Utah next week for downwinders. Those are people who were exposed to radioactive fallout from nuclear testing in the region in the 1950s and ‘60s. The meetings will focus on the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act which provides $50,000 to people who are suffering from cancers like leukemia or multiple myeloma because of exposure. RECA is set to expire in July of next year. Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Burgess Owens have both introduced legislation to extend the deadline and expand who is eligible. — Elaine Clark

Downwinders informational meetings:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, 4-5 p.m., Enterprise City Office
  • Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, 4-5 p.m., Parowan Public Library
  • Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, 7-8 p.m., Cedar City Public Library
  • Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021, 3-4 p.m., Beaver City Office
  • Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021, 6-7 p.m., Minersville Public Library

Region/Nation

Conservationists call for more protection of sacred sites

Friday, the Biden administration announced it would restore protections to Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah. Conservationists hope the White House will extend similar protections to similar sacred sites throughout the region. At the southernmost tip of Nevada, an area known as Avi Kwa Ame or Spirit Mountain is considered sacred to at least a dozen tribes. That includes the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, which is pushing the Biden administration to proclaim more than 380,000 acres the Avi Kwa Ame National Monument. Advocates say the designation would protect the area from recent threats, like sprawl from Las Vegas and wind and sun energy projects. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau