Features | KUER 90.1

Features

Photo of a bison
Nate Hegyi / Mountain West News Bureau


Climate change has been called the new normal. But residents in some parts of the Southwest say after living through the last two years, there’s nothing normal about it. 

Communities in the Four Corners -- where the borders of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona meet -- have been bouncing between desperately dry and record-breaking moisture since the winter of 2017, forcing people dependent on the reliability and predictability of water to adapt.

Brian Albers / KUER

Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski is wrapping up her first and only term at the end of this year. She made history as the city’s first openly gay mayor when she was elected in 2015. But she also clashed publicly with members of the city council and Gov. Gary Herbert during her time in office on issues like homelessness and the planned inland port. KUER’s Nicole Nixon went to City Hall to talk with Biskupski about her time in office.  

The Bureau of Land Management is moving more staff and—perhaps most significantly—its headquarters to the Mountain West.

Depending on who you ask, relocating the BLM’s headquarters from Washington, D.C. to Grand Junction, Colorado will make the agency more efficient, give preferential treatment to the fossil fuel industry—or even functionally dismantle it.

Photo of city building.
Brian Albers / KUER

Interstate 15 and the train tracks that run alongside it cut Salt Lake City in half more ways than one. 

While the freeway is the physical boundary of the city’s west side, where more than a quarter of the population lives, it’s also where, some residents say, many city service end. 

It's known as the Night of the Grizzlies. Over fifty years ago, two women were killed by two different grizzly bears on the same night. The repercussions of the incident can still be seen in the way bears are managed today. But it also gave birth to a powerful myth—it's dangerous for women to spend time in the woods while menstruating.

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. 

When it comes to homelessness, it seems all eyes are on California. President Donald Trump is accusing homeless people there of damaging the environment and has suggested shutting down encampments. But Boise, Idaho, is at the center of a case that’s affecting cities across West.


Renee Bright / KUER

Mormon culture influences nearly every aspect of life in Utah. But these days, many long-held values are being challenged, even by the faithful. KUER’s series “Latter-day” examines how Mormon culture is — and isn’t — changing in response.

Photo of Albert Betoudji tying together mustard greens.
Rocio Hernandez / KUER

Farmers’ markets provide customers an abundance of fresh produce, but two Salt Lake County markets that primarily serve refugees also create cultural connections through food. 

Photo of dripping spigot.
iStock.com / Wirachai

In the Uinta Mountains east of Park City, there’s a camp for girls called Aspencrest. It’s run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and its water might be contaminated. In an investigation for High Country News, freelance journalist Emma Penrod details how Aspencrest and another property owned by the church have had problems with water quality, in some cases for years. But the Utah Division of Drinking Water has not issued any citations for non-compliance. 

Photo of Carrick on trail.
Ben Hooley

A Hundred Miles of Heaven and Hell is officially called the Wasatch 100 Mile Endurance Race. Runners have just 36 hours to run a total elevation gain and loss is almost 48 thousand feet from Kaysville to Midway.

Instructor Graham Dunne is holding up some printouts with faces on them. He tells his students they're smaller than real heads.

"Here's some useless knowledge from being a sniper," he says. "The average human head is 6 inches across by 10 inches high. These are probably half that."

We're at the Flatrock Regional Training Center in Commerce City, Colorado. Usually the people training here are law enforcement, but today they're teachers, principals, bus drivers, coaches and school administrators — 13 of them.

Photo of Joe Smith, David Betts and his son James Betts.
Benjamin Bombard/KUER

The Utah deer and elk archery seasons wrap up across much of the state this Friday. The Division of Wildlife Resources says there are more buck deer in the state than at any time in the last 25 years. KUER’s Benjamin Bombard sends this audio postcard of a recent hunting trip in the Uintas.  


Photo of Huckabay looking out her window.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

This story has been corrected.

SPANISH VALLEY — When Marlene Huckabay moved to Spanish Valley in 1994, her two-acre lot was little more than a patch of desert with a tar paper shack surrounded by stark, red-rock cliffs.

You might not know it but there’s a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture whose job includes killing wild animals – to the tune of millions each year.  It used to be called Animal Damage Control. Now it’s simply called Wildlife Services. Depending on who you talk to, the agency is controversial and secretive or, well-managed and essential.

Finding a river in the West that still behaves like a Western river -- one that rises and falls with the annual rush of melting snow -- is tough. 

Many of the region’s major streams are controlled by dams. Their flows come at the push of a button. Instead of experiencing dynamic flows, dammed rivers are evened out. Floods are mitigated and managed, seen as a natural disaster rather than an ecological necessity. 

Photo of vertebrae in plaster.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

WHITE MESA — Just south of Blanding, researchers are excavating seven giant dinosaur vertebrae. They are part of a 70-foot-long diplodocus skeleton that will be on display at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Susan Lang, U. of S.C. / NSF / ROV Jason / 2018 © WHOI

Here are the basic building blocks of most life as we know it: carbon, energy, and water. But if you’re looking for signs of life in space – you need to change how you think about life itself.

Photo of race cars at salt flats.
Erik Neumann / KUER

At the starting line at the Bonneville Speedway, drivers were being strapped into sleek, bullet-shaped machines and souped-up classic cars. Engines roared as they waited in line for what they hoped would be a record-setting run.

Illustration of mormon imagery.
Renee Bright / KUER

Mormon culture influences nearly every aspect of life in Utah. But these days many long-held values are being challenged, even by the faithful. KUER’s series “Latter-day” examines how Mormon culture is — and isn’t — changing in response.

Photo of Rob Lea swimming.
Courtesy Caroline Gleich

For many, climbing Mount Everest is an achievement of a lifetime. But for one Park City resident, summiting the highest mountain in the world is just one in a series of goals he’s checking off his list this year. Endurance athlete Rob Lea recently became the first person on record to climb Everest and swim the English Channel in the same year — and he’s still going. 

Illustration of Church President.
Renee Bright / KUER

At a time when many long-held Mormon values are being challenged, KUER’s new series “Latter-day” examines how Mormon culture is — and isn’t — changing in response.

Photo of Marx Huancas and his daughter Connie rehearsing a mariachi song.
Kelsie Moore / KUER

For Marx Huancas, a Davis County father of two girls, mariachi music is more than a pastime. It’s a way to keep his family, who moved from Peru to Utah about 10 years ago, connected to their Latino heritage. In Utah, Latinos make up 14% of the state’s population of roughly 3 million residents. Huancas was inspired to open a mariachi school in Utah as a way to help Latino parents like him who want to keep their families connected to their culture even while living in the United States.

The Mountain West has disproportionately high rates of depressive disorders and suicide. Researchers are trying to find out why. Turns out, the mountains themselves might have something to do with it. 

Photo of a bollard light illuminating the main street in Ivins with a warm glow.
David Fuchs / KUER

IVINS — Around 11:30 p.m. on a recent, cloudless Monday night, Tim Povlick was hard at work measuring the brightness of the sky. 

Photo of rider changing horses.
Russel Daniels for KUER

  

It’s called America’s first extreme sport. It’s certainly old … and extreme. Each summer on the Fort Hall Reservation in southeastern Idaho, Shoshone Bannock tribal members gear up for Indian relay. KUER's Mountain West News Bureau reporter Nate Hegyi attended the event early this month with photojournalist Russel Daniels.  

Photo of Helper Main Street.
Erik Neumann / KUER

HELPER — Standing in front of his half-finished oil painting of a coal mining crew, Thomas Williams gestured to the black-and-white photograph taped to the side of the stretched canvas.

Genetics can tell us a lot about ourselves, from where we come from to our risk of developing disease. In Nevada, researchers are collecting this personal information in the largest health study of its kind in the world.

Illustration of Jackson Hole.
Renee Bright / KUER

JACKSON, Wyo. — In this corner of the Cowboy State, where homes start at $1 million, it may appear Teton County Sheriff Matt Carr made out like a bandit.

Pages