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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. 

“It’s so important that we recognize that this is not a partisan issue, that this is a health issue, it’s an economic issue,” Cox said. “This is good for everyone. Whatever it is you believe in, this should be part of that.” 

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. 

The culprit: Sewer and water service is coming this fall to the rural area along Highway 191, just south of Moab, which could unleash a wave of development. Some projects that rely on the new services, including a 13-acre truck stop, are already underway. 

Our region is leading the way on training helicopter pilots to fight fires at night.  There are costs and hazards involved but the move could also help firefighters get the most threatening blazes under control more quickly.

Much of the Mountain West saw record breaking snowfall last year which was great news for the mountain resort industry. This year's snowfall may be less intense. 

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.

Photo of empty Utah Senate Chamber.
Austen Diamond for KUER

Utah lawmakers approved a medical cannabis system that will use more privately-run dispensaries instead of public health departments to help distribute the drug. 

Photo of Cecilia Figueroa-Figueroa and her attorney Aaron Tarin.
Rocio Hernandez / KUER

Cecilia Figueroa-Figueroa never expected to make headlines.

But since early September, when the Salt Lake City advocate for immigrant health care faced the daunting choice of either leaving the country on her own or deportation, her story has been all over local and national news. 

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. 

Photo of William Happer, who resigned Friday from his position as director of emerging technologies for the National Security Council.
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

A prominent climate change denier resigned from the White House Friday after he was blocked from establishing a committee questioning the findings of the most recent national climate assessment. 

A photo of Andrew Gruber, executive director of the Wasatch Front Regional Council, presenting the Wasatch Choice 2050 Vision plan at a convention on Thursday in Salt Lake City.
Jon Reed / KUER

Growth is coming to the Wasatch Front. 

That was the refrain at Planners’ Day, part of the Utah League of Cities and Towns annual three-day convention in downtown Salt Lake City on Thursday. 

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 the Utah State Board of Education seal on a wall inside the board building.
Rocio Hernandez / KUER

People interested in serving on the Utah State Board of Education may have to run under a political party starting in 2020 after the Utah Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that partisan elections for the school board are constitutional. 

Illustration of microphones.
Angela Hsieh / NPR

September's Democratic presidential debate has been narrowed to one night only, as more candidates have called it quits altogether.

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

Updated 3:02 p.m. MDT 9/12/19:

The Neck Fire, 8 miles north of Cedar City, is now 100% contained. The fire, which started on September 5, has burned a total of 19,151 acres. It is the largest wildfire Utah has seen this year. 

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 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 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.

Photo of flags through capitol window.
Cory Dinter for KUER

The abortion debate is getting a lot of attention these days. Anti-abortion rights activists see President Trump’s conservative appointments to the Supreme Court as an opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade. A new poll asked Utahns about their support for 1973 case that legalized abortion.

Love it or hate it, Burning Man has become an institution in Northern Nevada. The annual counter-culture festival in the Black Rock Desert draws tens of thousands of tourists every year, bolstering the area's economy and arts scene. However, critics are concerned about the amount of trash and refuse left behind. KUNR's Paul Boger took a look around town to see the trash post-burn.

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.

Photo of the Utah State Board of Education building
Rocio Hernandez / KUER

Although still four months away, the Utah State Board of Education has begun discussion of its possible legislative policy requests for the 2020 Utah Legislative Session. 

A recent report looking at the best states to work in doesn't show the Mountain West in a particularly good light. Only one state in our region ranked in the top half.

Photo of bagged medical marijuana and medicine bottles.
iStock.com / Patrick Morrissey

Utah’s medical cannabis law will continue to evolve as the state prepares to sell marijuana products next spring.

Ammon Bundy, who led an armed standoff with the federal government in an Oregon wildlife refuge, took to Facebook this past weekend. He said he failed a background check to buy a firearm -- and then things took a turn.  

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 school board meeting.
Rocio Hernandez / KUER

The Salt Lake City Board of Education voted Tuesday night in favor of two resolutions that reaffirmed its commitment to protecting its immigrant students and families as the Trump administration ramps up immigration enforcement.

Photo of a skateboarder practicing at Salt Lake City's new skatepark.
Nicole Nixon / KUER

Skateboarding legend Tony Hawk remembers coming to Utah in the 1990s, when Park City was one of the few places that allowed snowboarding.

Photo of protesters and CECY sign.
Rocio Hernandez / KUER

Updated 6:33 p.m. MDT 9/3/19

A Salt Lake City activist has avoided deportation — for now — following protests against her removal last week, an immigrant rights group said Tuesday.

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

The newly-minted head of the Bureau of Land Management is defending himself after attracting the ire of environmental groups. They are concerned about potential conflicts of interest and his views on public lands. 

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