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PM News Brief: A possible monuments lawsuit, Utah jobs report & Arches timed entry

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National Park Service Photo
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The National Park Service is currently drawing up plans to pilot a timed entry system for Arches National Park. This story and more in Friday evening's news brief.

Friday evening, Oct. 22, 2021

State

Utah’s AG sets sights on monuments lawsuit

The Utah Attorney General’s Office is looking for help in suing the Biden administration over its decision to restore Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. It issued a request for proposals from “qualified law firms” Thursday. Steve Bloch, the legal director of the conservation group Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, said the state’s move is disappointing, but not surprising. “Rather than roll up their sleeves, work with Native American tribes and local partners to ensure that the sacred sites and the objects in these monuments are safeguarded, the governor is instead prepared to do exactly the opposite,” he said. In the request, the state is looking for attorneys who have experience arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Open jobs in Utah exceed pre-pandemic levels

Utah’s unemployment rate held mostly steady in September at 2.4% — about half the national rate. Chief Economist Mark Knold said the state actually has more jobs now than it did before the pandemic, but labor force participation is lower than it was two years ago. Knold said that’s because of remaining hesitancy over returning to work during the pandemic. A little more than 40,000 Utahns are currently unemployed. — Caroline Ballard

Northern Utah

DA finds police shooting justified

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill found a Sheriff’s deputy justified in fatally shooting a person this past April. Joshua Michael Johnson was laying down outside the Sheriff’s Office when two deputies approached him. When they tried to handcuff him, Johnson pulled out a handgun and shot both deputies. They were injured but survived. One of them, Deputy Joshua Buerke, fired multiple shots at Johnson, killing him. Based on the evidence, Gill said his office would not be able to prove Buerke’s actions were unreasonable, so Gill declined to file charges. Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera said the gun that was used to shoot the deputies was stolen, and she urged people to safely secure their firearms. — Emily Means

Foundation launches new safety initiatives on anniversary of U student athletes murder

Oct. 22 is the third anniversary of Lauren McCluskey’s death. She was a University of Utah student-athlete who was murdered by a man she had dated. Her mother Jill McCluskey has dedicated the last three years to creating change around campus safety. The Lauren McCluskey Foundation launched a new set of initiatives Friday. Those include creating a campus safety score, resources for survivors and best practices for responding to dating violence and stalking. Jill McCluskey said it’s a community effort to create lasting change. University officials said they will work with experts to develop ways to change campus culture around safety. Read the full story. Ivana Martinez

Southern Utah

Park Service considers timed-entry at Arches, April through October

The National Park Service is currently drawing up plans to pilot a timed entry system for Arches National Park. KZMU in Moab reports that they're targeting reservations from April through October, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visitation to Arches has ballooned 66% over the past decade. Right now, staff control congestion by shutting the entrance gate — sometimes for two to three hours per day. Officials say reservations would guarantee visitors can enter the park at specific times. Park service staff will fine tune the framework of a pilot timed entry system in the coming weeks and months, and they are hoping to launch it in April 2022. — Molly Marcello, KZMU

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