Southern Utah News Bureaus | KUER 90.1

Southern Utah News Bureaus

KUER’s Southeast Utah Bureau is based in San Juan County. The Southwest Utah Bureau is based in the St. George area. Both initiatives focus on local government, public lands and the environment, indigenous issues, faith and spirituality and other topics of relevance to Utahns.

An elderly navajo lady wearing a turquoise necklace sits in a chair
Courtesy of Holly DeJolie

BLUFF — Holly DeJolie was getting worried. 

She hadn’t heard from her mother and brother for a week, despite calling them several times a day. The two lived together in a three-bedroom house on Cradleboard Mesa in Navajo Mountain, Utah—about a mile from the Arizona border. They had called her the week of March 8 to tell her they were both having chest pains, DeJolie said. 

The sun sets on a red and white banded canyon wall, as a river runs along the valley floor below.
David Fuchs / KUER

ST. GEORGE — Zion National Park closed indefinitely on Friday in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Photo of the Bryce Canyon Inn.
Courtesy of Merrilee Mecham

TROPIC, Utah — Like most residents of Garfield County, Dianna Leslie depends on tourism to survive.

Screengrab showing Jonathan Nez sitting at a disk speaking into a microphone
Screengrab from video via Facebook

The Navajo Nation is imposing a nightly curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. on all residents in an effort to reduce the spread of coronavirus. It went into effect on Monday at 8 p.m, but it’s not yet enforceable, according to the Navajo Nation police chief.

An empty road approaches a park entrance booth, which is out of sight. A rocky ridge rises up in the background.
David Fuchs / KUER

Arches and Canyonlands National Parks closed indefinitely on Saturday, following calls from local governments and public health departments to temporarily shut down the parks to visitors due to coronavirus concerns. 

Photo of a tent in the foreground at a developed campsite by a lake with campers in the background
Carolyn Dailey for KUER

San Juan County’s health department announced its first confirmed case of COVID-19 Friday morning. Minutes later, the department issued an order to curb tourism in the county. 

The entrance of the Washington County Administrative Building is framed between two palm trees. A large sign sits out front.
David Fuchs / KUER

ST. GEORGE — When the Millard county commission declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, their county became the 19th in Utah to do so in a little over two weeks. 

Photo of the Sheraton Hotel in Salt Lake City
Wikimedia Commons

Erica Ridd worked at a restaurant called Punch Bowl Social in Salt Lake City until last Monday — when she got an email telling her she’d been laid off. 

Photo of census forms mailed to residents
Arianna Pickard / KUER

The Census Bureau has suspended field operations across the U.S. and moved operation deadlines back in response to the coronavirus outbreak. But the bureau is still encouraging all households to respond as soon as possible — online, by phone, or by mail. 

Photo of a sign welcoming people to the city of Bluff in Utah
Wikimedia Commons

BLUFF — Hotel owner Jen Davila normally staffs up in the spring, ahead of the busy tourist season. But this year nothing is normal. 

Photo of storefronts in downtown Salt Lake City
iStock

Utahns can now apply for disaster loan assistance because of the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced on Tuesday.

Screengrab of a man speaking in a recorded press conference
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer Facebook page

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez on Wednesday issued an executive order banning travel to the Navajo Nation. The move comes after two Navajo Nation residents on Tuesday tested positive for coronavirus, after traveling off the reservation. 

Photo of a road sign that welcomes visitors to moab
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Hotels in Moab will not admit new visitors for the next 30 days because of coronavirus, health officials announced Tuesday. 

Photo of a line of cars at the entrance of Arches National Park.
KUER File Photo

Updated 9:11 a.m. MDT 3/17/2020

“Please. Do. More. Now.” 

That's the message Moab Regional Hospital sent yesterday to Gov. Gary Herbert. In a letter, the hospital’s leadership asked Herbert to close all non-essential businesses in Moab for two weeks because of the coronavirus outbreak. They wrote that Moab could see up to 6,000 visitors next weekend, based on current hotel bookings. 

Photo of the Flaming Gorge dam.
Wikimedia Commons

Legislation to study the cost of diverting water from the Green River to the Wasatch Front is headed for a final vote in the State Senate this week. But opponents say the potential project is misguided. 

An outdoor theater is perched on a pavilion underneath a blue, partly cloudy sky.
Courtesy of Utah Shakespeare Festival

CEDAR CITY — The Utah Shakespeare Festival will be getting a bit more British over the next few years. 

an ancient stone structure nestled inside a red rock cliff
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

MONTICELLO — Planning for the shrunken Bears Ears National Monument is moving forward, despite protests from the tribes involved in the monument’s designation. 

Picture of an African-American man speaking to a circle of four Black Student Union members. A whiteboard with the words, “Black Lives Matter,” is in the background.
David Fuchs/KUER

ST. GEORGE — When Justice Slayton learned that a Black Lives Matter chapter was opening in Southern Utah, she had a hard time wrapping her head around it.

Photo of three men and a woman sitting at a table smiling and signing papers
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

TEEC NOS POS, ARIZ. — A 2-year-old stalemate over who should maintain roads on the Navajo Nation in San Juan County ended Monday, with the signing of a new road maintenance agreement. But county officials say the arrangement doesn’t go far enough. 

Photo of the slickrock bike trail
Wikimedia Commons

Moab and Grand County officials breathed a sigh of relief last week, when the Bureau of Land Management announced it will defer leasing land inside the Sand Flats Recreation Area to oil and gas developers in an upcoming lease sale. 

A photo of Lake Powell
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

ST. GEORGE — Warming temperatures are causing diminishing flows for the Colorado River, according to a new study published Thursday. 

Photo of bikers on the Slick Rock trail
Wikimedia Commons

Updated 1:21 p.m. MT 2/19/20

MOAB — The Sand Flats recreation area is home to two of Moab’s main attractions: the world-famous Slickrock Bike Trail and the Hell’s Revenge Jeep Trail. Together, they draw thousands of visitors here every year, contributing millions of dollars to the local economy.

A sandy two-track road cuts through stands of pinyon pine and juniper trees.
David Fuchs / KUER

Listen to this story in this KUER news brief.

ST. GEORGE — Lawyers representing the state of Utah and Kane County made their closing arguments in the so-called “bellwether roads” case on Wednesday.

Photo of Bears Ears Buttes.
KUER File Photo

Updated 11:33 a.m. MST 2/15/2020

The recently released management plans for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante national monuments, already slammed by tribes and environmentalists, may also violate federal law, according to a new law review article by two University of Utah researchers. 

A field of sagebrush glows in the morning light. A mesa rises in the background.
David Fuchs / KUER

Listen to the story here.

KANAB — As the debate over public lands management intensifies under the Trump administration, Grand Staircase Escalante and Bears Ears have become household names. 

A trailer, a shack and a house with solar panels sit on a hill in the foreground, and a large house sits on a hill in the background.
Kate Groetzinger/KUER

WESTWATER — Just across a shallow canyon from Blanding, around 20 Navajo families live here in small homes and trailers. They rely on solar panels for electricity and haul their water from town, while — less than half a mile away — Blanding residents run dishwashers and appliances off a municipal power and water supply. 

A yellow caution sign warns of an autonomous shuttle, which is in the background.
David Fuchs / KUER

ST. GEORGE — Washington County residents got a glimpse of the future on Tuesday, when Utah transportation officials kicked off three days of free test rides on an autonomous shuttle now touring the state.

A pump jack at dusk surrounded by sagebrush
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

The Bluff Town Council, tasked with overseeing growth in the recently incorporated community, recently faced a quandary.

Photo of Bears Ears Buttes.
KUER File Photo

Updated 2:24 p.m. MST 2/6/2020

In the face of ongoing litigation from tribes and conservation groups, the Trump administration has finalized plans to expand drilling, mining and grazing across southern Utah — including within the former bounds of Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments. 

The city of St. George is shown from above. The white temple stands above the tree-lined streets.
Kelsie Moore / RadioWest Films

ST. GEORGE — The new, tongue-in-cheek aesthetic for this fast-growing city in 2020 is “pioneer chic.”

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