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.

Photo of a Navajo man wearing a black cowboy hat stands in front of a sign that says "Indigenous People’s Day."
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Students at Utah State University Blanding rose before dawn this morning to greet the sun with corn pollen in the Navajo tradition, before embarking on a 5k run to kick off the college’s first Indigenous People’s Day. 

A road with worn pavement and lots of patches.
Kate Groetzinger/KUER

SAN JUAN COUNTY -- As winter approaches, Navajo Nation residents in Utah say roads on the reservation are increasingly hazardous because of a lack of upkeep.

 

And they don’t know who to blame.

A group of police officers stand with a wooden plaque.
Dixie State University

The campus police department at Dixie State University has become the first campus police department in Utah to receive an official accreditation from the state’s Chiefs of Police Association. 

Photo of Navajo woman filling out form.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Updated 10:05 p.m. MDT 10/3/19

 

An upcoming special election in San Juan County has some Native residents worried they will lose representation in government.

Photo of Bears Ears Buttes.
Erik Neumann

Legal challenges to President Donald Trump’s reduction of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase national monuments may move forward, now that a federal judge has denied the Trump Administration’s requests that the cases be dismissed. 

Photo of Hovenweep National Monument.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Updated 11:30 p.m. MDT 9/30/19

Meeting in Utah for the first time ever, the All Pueblo Council of Governors passed resolutions last week calling for the protection of the Bears Ears region and pushing back on efforts to change the form of government in San Juan County. 

Two Navajo men face each other for a conversation during a commission meeting.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Following a five-hour mediation process on Friday, San Juan County has agreed to pay the Navajo Nation $2.6 million in attorney’s fees. The county is responsible for compensation after losing a voting rights case brought by the Nation in 2012. 

Photo of road to Red Knoll.
David Fuchs / KUER

Updated 11:05 a.m. MDT 9/27/19  

KANAB — In the months before being elected to the Kane County Commission last year, Andy Gant paid a visit to a local advisory committee he would soon start working with. His goal: to introduce himself as the newest official in town. 

Photo of a sign welcoming people to the city of Moab.
Creative Commons

Most of Moab’s sewer and water lines were built more than 60 years ago, at the height of the uranium boom. Now, the town of around 5,000 residents is seeing a boom in tourism. On weekends, its population can reach up to 40,000, according to City Manager Joel Linares. This puts pressure on its infrastructure, and makes it more expensive to replace. 

Photo of oil pump.
iStock.com / DennyThurstonPhotography

Environmental groups are sounding the alarm about a process they say cheats taxpayers and favors the oil and gas industry. The Wilderness Society and Center for Western Priorities say Congress needs to pass legislation to reform the Bureau of Land Management’s oil and gas leasing program.

Photo of tire tracks in red sand.
David Fuchs / KUER

KANAB — A proposed mine for sand used in oil and gas extraction has stirred tensions and spurred questions in this small town just north of the Arizona border since the City Council voted in July to provide water to the project. 

Photo of a street sign on a highway that reads "Sunny Acres Lane."
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

MONTICELLO — From the potential construction of a 13-acre truck stop to the conversion of housing into overnight rentals to the loss of their dark night skies, people who moved to Spanish Valley for peace and quiet say their way of life is under threat. 

Photo of a rock showing pictographs.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Conservation and tribal groups are criticizing the Bureau of Land Management for its latest oil and gas lease sale of more than 70,000 acres of public land in Utah. 

The sale, which occurred this week, brought in around $1.63 million, according to the BLM, more than half of which came from 32,027 acres in San Juan County.

The sale is the third since March 2018 to include land between Bears Ears and Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, much of which conservation groups say should not be leased. 

Photo of a brown wooden sign that reads "Manti-La Sal National Forest, U.S. Department of Agriculture" with some trees in the background.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Public lands are usually a divisive issue in Utah, but state and federal lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are working together to help counties secure annual reimbursements for federally-owned land. 

Photo of three panelists signing a document as their colleagues look on.
Photo courtesy of Southern Utah University.

An agreement signed at the Utah Rural Summit on Tuesday might soon bring remote working jobs to rural parts of the state. 

Photo of a man and woman dancing together in the middle of a red dirt corral as children look on.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

At the White Mesa fairground in central San Juan County, about 50 boys and girls stand opposite each other in a red dirt corral lined with tall cedars. They’re ready to take their first steps in the traditional Bear Dance. But first, they need a partner. 

Photo of former San Juan County CommissionerMark Maryboy at a town hall meeting.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Efforts to change the form of government in San Juan County brought cultural and political tensions to the fore last week, prompting accusations of racism. Former County Commissioner Mark Maryboy, whose brother Kenneth is a county commissioner, called some residents who support the change in county government “racist Mormons,” adding, “They are all probably a member of the Ku Klux Klan.”

Photo of the rear-end of a Zion National Park Shuttle on a winding canyon road. Clouds of sand that are several times its height billow above.
Photo courtesy of Kathleen Kavarra Corr.

The Saturday evening sky above Zion National Park was bright blue and cloudless when Dixie State geography adjunct professor Kathleen Kavarra Corr said she heard a crack like thunder.

Photo of people marching at a rally.
Courtesy of Meskee Yanabah Yatsayte / Navajo Nation Missing Persons Updates

In response to advocates who say the Navajo Nation isn’t doing enough to help families looking for missing loved ones, the nation recently announced plans to improve missing persons investigations. 

Photo of Lance Milne.
KSTU-TV (Fox 13)

It took all of 11 minutes for Judge Michael Westfall to issue his decision: convicted sex offender and polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs will face questioning in the latest lawsuit against him, the United Effort Plan Trust and other prominent members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

Photo of a landscape of red sands and red rock in Kane County.
Utah Geological Survey

A petition calling on Gardner Company to cut off its support to a controversial frac sand mine outside Kanab has picked up over 2,600 signatures. 

Photo of commission meeting.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Updated 1:45 p.m. MDT 8/24/19 

A little more than six months after the swearing-in of San Juan County’s first majority-Navajo County Commission, long-simmering tension brought on by years of distrust, frustration and, at times, prejudice is bubbling over.

A hand enters combination on a safe with numerical pad.
istock.com / C5Media

The National Center for Veterans Studies at the University of Utah released research on Friday that offers new insight into suicide prevention among military personnel. 

Photo of a bus with the destination “star shuttle” picking up passengers in a dark parking lot.
David Fuchs / KUER

Bryce Canyon National Park announced its official certification this week as an International Dark Sky Park.

Photo of sign outside Colorado City.
iStock.com / TSnowImages

A legal skirmish has unfolded regarding whether former polygamist leader Warren Jeffs is mentally capable of testifying in a sexual abuse case against him, the United Effort Plan Trust and other leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints. 

Photo of bear returning to wild.
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Updated 1:05 p.m. MDT 8/13/19: Bear activity is up in 2019, according to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR). As of July, 29 incidents involving bears had been reported, more than double the number of incidents reported by the same time last year. 

Phot of a boy playing a handheld video game in front of an old camper trailer. The desert stretches out in the background.
David Fuchs / KUER

St. George — It’s Back to School Night at Diamond Valley Elementary, and the auditorium is filled with the usual suspects: tired, young parents and restless, wriggling children. But near the back of the room, seated at the edge of the aisle, is a 47-year-old woman with a blue streak in her hair. She’s equal parts exhausted, anxious and out of place. 

Photo of a constituent questioning Rep. Chris Stewart as several rows of audience members look on.
David Fuchs / KUER

In a wide-ranging discussion at a town hall in Hurricane on Monday night, Congressman Chris Stewart said he was conflicted on the issue of gun control in the wake of two mass shootings last weekend.

Photo of Peavin Canyon Fire.
Courtesy U.S. Forest Service

The word wildfire tends to invoke fear, but some wildfires are actually good. According to the U.S. Forest Service, the Peavine and Poison Canyon fires currently burning in the Manti-La Sal National Forest will help the environment and act as future fire suppressants.

Photo of San Juan County courthouse.
Ken Lund / Flickr Creative Commons

The San Juan County Commission voted unanimously on Monday to take no further action in a Native American voting rights case that led to the redistricting of the county in 2017. 

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