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AM News Brief: Lawyers for monument battle, ancient grazers and wildfires, & Utes are bowl bound

A photo of the inside of Rice Eccles Stadium.
Brian Albers
The University of Utah football team is headed to the Rose Bowl for the first time. This story and more in Monday mornings News Brief.

Monday morning, Dec. 6, 2021

Southern Utah

Utah lawyers up for monuments battle

Utah leaders have chosen a law firm to help them fight the restoration of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. The state attorney general’s office announced over the weekend that Consovoy McCarthy PLLC will help with any potential litigation. The firm has offices in Boston and Washington D.C. President Joe Biden restored the monuments to their original sizes in October, and shortly after, the state announced its intent to sue the federal government over it. A statement from the A.G.’s office said the president is prolonging “the tug-of-war over Utah’s public lands.” Under the Trump administration, Bears Ears was cut by 85%, and Grand Staircase-Escalante was cut in half. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Washington County contest draws ire from arts community

Washington County recently opened an art contest for a tower at a new county parking structure, but some artists in the community are opposed to how it’s set up. The winner will get $1,000, but just by entering the contest, the county reserves the right to purchase all rights to the work for $250. That’s where Alex Chamberlain, the chair of the art department at Dixie State University, has a problem. The way it’s set up now also undervalues artists, according to Ron Woodbury, the former chair of the St. George Arts Commission. In a statement, the county said they understand people’s concerns but said, “this contest may not be a good fit for everyone.” Read the full story. — Lexi Peery, St. George

Northern Utah

Utes are bowl bound

The University of Utah football team is headed to the Rose Bowl for the first time. The Utes won the Pac-12 Championship game Friday night — also for the first time. They beat the Oregon Ducks 38-10. The Rose Bowl takes place on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, California. It’s frequently one of the most-watched college football games. This year’s game will be broadcast on ESPN, with a 3 p.m. Mountain Time kickoff. Utah will face the Ohio State Buckeyes. — Caroline Ballard


Loss of ancient species led to more wildfires

A recent study found wildfires increased worldwide after many grazing species went extinct thousands of years ago. The research was co-authored by University of Utah professor Tyler Faith. He said grasslands are the most flammable ecosystems. The now-extinct herbivores were preventing fires by eating a lot of that grass. North America lost 68% of those animals. Researchers said this shows the possibility of using grazing livestock to prevent wildfires amid climate change. — Martha Harris

Lawsuit challenges Trump-era hunting rule

A federal lawsuit filed in Montana could reverse a Trump-era rule which expanded hunting and fishing on more than two million acres of national wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries. The lawsuit argues it puts at-risk wildlife in danger. For example, at Montana's Swan River Wildlife Refuge, the rule opened the area up to black bear archery hunting. The lawsuit says that puts protected grizzly bears in danger of getting killed by mistake or in self-defense by hunters. — Maggie Mullen, Mountain West News Bureau

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