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PM News Brief: Higher education costs vs. benefits, big game hunt changes and growth after wildfires

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A new report from the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute weighs the costs and benefits of higher education in the state. This story and more in Tuesday evening's news brief.

Tuesday evening, Nov. 23, 2021

State

Balancing investments in higher education with costs

A new report from the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute weighs the costs and benefits of higher education in the state. It found that for every dollar the state invests in higher ed, it gets three in return and people generally have a higher standard of living with more education. But state funding for colleges and universities has decreased over the last 20 years, while tuition and fees have gone up. Andrea Brandley, the lead author of the report, said while it doesn’t answer the question of how much the state should invest in higher education relative to students, it is an important consideration for policymakers. She said she hopes the report can help guide their decision making. — Jon Reed

Utah’s DWR proposes allowing less technology for big game hunts 

Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources wants to limit how technology is used for hunting. Under one proposal, night vision devices would not be allowed to find big game. It would be banned 48 hours leading up to hunting season in an area and 48 hours after it ended. DWR also wants to ban the use of transmitting trail cameras. They would be prohibited from July 31 to Jan. 31. Wildlife officials said they surveyed more than 14,000 big game hunters and found most of them opposed using the cameras. — Ross Terrell

Utah’s COVID situation shows year to year improvement

As we inch closer to Thanksgiving, Utah’s COVID situation has shown some improvement compared to last year. State health officials reported 1,153 new cases Tuesday. That’s less than half of the number Utah reported around this time last November. The state’s positivity rate is also about 11%. Still, officials said Thursday 15 more people have died from the virus. One of them was younger than 25, but they were not a minor. — Ross Terrell

Northern Utah

CIvil rights and library groups speak up on school book bans  

Concerns are growing in Utah about schools removing books from libraries, following an incident in the Canyons School District. Several civil rights groups and library associations are speaking out about concerns over unlawful censorship and that the action disproportionately targeted books by or about Black, brown and LGBTQ people. Brooke Stephens has been leading some of the efforts to identify books with inappropriate material. She says the goal is to remove pornographic material from schools, not ban books. Canyons said it’s currently reviewing its policy and trying to strike a balance between First Amendment protections and providing age-appropriate material. Read the full story. Jon Reed

Region/Nation

Less snowpack could impact how scorched areas regrow  

Climate change is making wildfires more severe. According to a new study, it’s also changing how the landscape recovers. As the West gets warmer, more of our precipitation falls as rain instead of snow. That’s having a big impact on how burned areas grow back, according to Anne Nolin with the University of Nevada, Reno. She and her colleagues looked at the Rocky Mountains in Montana and Idaho, as well as the Columbia River watershed. They found a close relationship between the level of snow in a given year and the amount of new growth. That’s because the snowpack acts like a savings account that helps trees get through the dry season. When there’s less snow on the ground, there’s less water available later. — Bert Johnson, Mountain West News Bureau 

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