Health Science & Environment | KUER 90.1

Health Science & Environment

Photo of members of Montana's Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force.
Tim Fox via Twitter

Tribal representatives in Montana are leaving the state’s new Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force in protest of Attorney General Tim Fox’s support of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

An Interior Department committee is recommending that the National Park Service privatize campgrounds in national parks and offer services such as WI-FI and food trucks.

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. 

Mountain West states have some of the lowest rates of youth obesity in the country, according to a new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Utah's rate of 8.7% was found to be the lowest in the country, while Colorado and Montana, with rates of 10.7% and 10.8%, respectively, were also among the six states with obesity rates statistically significantly lower than the national average of 15.3%.

A few months ago, Tricia Shields was having a regular day at work. 

“I think I was daydreaming at my desk,” says Shields, a resident of Parker, Colorado, who was at the time working at a kidney care center in Denver.

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.

A line delineates where burned and unburned sections of grassland and sagebrush.
David Fuchs / KUER

Updated 2:45 p.m. MDT 10/07/19:

Utah’s 2019 fire season has been a mild one, according to the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands.

It's flu season, so public health officials are pushing the flu shot, but many in the Mountain West are particularly bad at taking that advice.

Photo of Kate MacGregor.
U.S. Department of the Interior

President Donald Trump intends to nominate a long-time Republican Hill staffer to help lead the nation’s largest land management agency.

Photo of Civica Rx Representative holding up a vial of antibiotics.
Jon Reed / KUER

A Utah-based drug maker announced today it has taken its first step towards curbing price spikes and shortages of generic drugs in the pharmaceutical industry. 

David Vela, the former superintendent of Grand Teton National Park, is now the acting director of the National Park Service.

Wildland firefighters use fire retardant — the red stuff that air tankers drop — to suppress existing blazes. But Stanford researchers have developed a gel-like fluid they say makes fire retardant last longer and could prevent wildfires from igniting in the first place if applied to ignition-prone areas.

Off-road vehicles such as ATVs and UTVs will soon be allowed on roads in Utah’s national parks after a controversial policy change last week.

 


Photo of air pollution over the Great Salt Lake.
Brian Albers / KUER

Levels of the fine particulates found in northern Utah’s winter inversions have decreased over three years, putting the area in line with federal air quality standards for the first time in over a decade.

Photo of Main Street in Park City, UT.
Pixabay

Setting environmental goals these days isn’t just about projecting an image — for many companies, it’s also good for business.

Photo of William Perry Pendley.
U.S. Department of the Interior

As the nation’s largest nuclear energy lobbying group pushes the Trump administration to open up lands near Grand Canyon National Park to uranium mining, a government watchdog is raising concerns about potential conflicts of interest. 

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 bison in Yellowstone National Park.
Jacob W. Frank / NPS

Taxpayers are willing to spend way more than they currently do to fund and protect national parks, according to a recent economic analysis compiled by professors from Harvard and Colorado State University. 

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.


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 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 Pinyon-juniper woodlands.
Bureau of Land Management

Environmental groups have halted a controversial plan to cut down 30,000 acres of forest within southern Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The Interior Board of Appeals ruled Monday that the Bureau of Land Management’s plan failed to consider its effects on migratory birds. 

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. 

Stock photo of a tailpipe.
iStock

For the past 12 years, officials in Utah have dubbed September the start of idle free season, an annual reminder for residents to turn off their cars. On Monday, the tradition continued as Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, along with other state and local leaders and the non-profit Utah Clean Cities, made this year’s announcement at a press conference at the Capitol. 

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 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. 

From more intense wildfires to prolonged droughts, climate change is impacting the ecology of the American West. That’s got researchers in our region looking at a new way to fight some of these impacts: drones.

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.

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