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AM News Brief: Police impersonator, drought update & suspect facing charges for school threat

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Romain Guy
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Leaders from western states and tribal nations met this week to discuss the Colorado River’s water crisis. That story and more in this morning's news brief.

Friday morning, Dec. 17, 2021

State

Experts say Utah needs much more snow to end the drought

Snowstorms this week gave a sliver of hope for Utah’s drought, but experts say it wasn’t enough according to a statement made yesterday by the Utah Division of Water Resources. They say Utah needs an above-average season of snowstorms to refill the state’s water supply. The amount of water in the statewide total snowpack is lower than at any time in the past three decades despite this week's snowstorm. Reservoirs across the state remain at 50% capacity, and more than half of measured streams are flowing at rates below normal. And high temperatures haven’t helped. The temperature has been nearly five degrees above average over the last 30 days. The snowstorm this week did make a difference, but experts say Utah needs an exceptional water year to get out of the extreme drought. — Leah Treidler

Federal judge rejects Ute tribe’s claim to two million acres

A federal judge dismissed most of a major lawsuit by the Ute tribe claiming ownership of nearly two million acres of land Thursday. The tribe also asked for up to a billion dollars in reparations. Fox 13 reports the suit stems from broken promises by the government in the 1800s. The government had agreed to compensate the tribe after driving them out of their land in Eastern Utah and parts of Colorado but failed to fulfill the agreement. The judge says he rejected most of the claims because the statute of limitations had passed. — Ben Winslow, Fox 13

This article is published through the Utah News Collaborative, a partnership of news organizations in Utah that aims to inform readers across the state.

Western leaders meet about the future of the Colorado River

Leaders from western states and tribal nations met this week to discuss the Colorado River’s water crisis. Utah officials attended the conference and discussed a collaborative approach for the future. This year’s focus is the worsening hydrology of the Colorado River. Major storage reservoirs are at historic lows, and climate change is hurting snowpack levels. Candice Hasenyager, director of Utah’s Division of Water Resources, said everyone in the river basin needs to work together to be better at conservation. Upper Basin states are currently working on drought response plans as Lake Powell and Lake Mead are expected to reach extremely low levels next year. Read the full story.Lexi Peery

Northern Utah

Suspect faces charges for making a threat to Matheson Junior High

A suspect is in custody after making a threat on social media to students and staff at a junior high school in Utah according to a statement Thursday by the Matheson Junior High principal. The principal said the threat wasn’t credible but significantly disrupted the school day and scared both students and staff. The suspect was taken from the school directly to a juvenile detention center where they face a felony charge for making a terroristic threat in addition to school disciplinary action. This follows threats to schools in Salt Lake City and Box Elder School District earlier this week. — Leah Treidler

Scammer impersonates a police detective to swindle resident

A scammer attempted to extort money from a community member by impersonating a Salt Lake City police detective according to a statement from the SLCPD yesterday. The victim says the impersonator threatened the police department would file a lawsuit against them if they didn’t make a payment. When the victim refused to pay, the impersonator repeatedly called them demanding money. The victim immediately reported the incident to the SLCPD. The department warns community members never to pay money to someone claiming to be a police officer over the phone. — Leah Treidler

Region/Nation

First Native American director of the National Parks Service sworn in

During a historic moment Thursday, Charles Sams III was sworn in as director of the National Park Service. He’s the first Native American to hold the position. Tribal leaders in the West hope that this will mark a new chapter of public land management that centers around more Native American perspectives. Many of America’s national parks contain land that’s sacred to Native Americans, like in the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone. The federal government took much of this land from tribal nations, and Sams has said he’ll work to illuminate that history. — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

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