San Juan County | KUER 90.1

San Juan County

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 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 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 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.

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.

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. 

Photo of White Mesa Mill in Blanding, Utah
Flickr Creative Commons / Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Uranium mines in Southeast Utah will remain idle — for now — as President Trump has delayed a decision to impose a buy-American quota on U.S. nuclear producers that would have bolstered domestic mining. 

Photo of commissioners.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

The San Juan County Commission met in Monument Valley on Tuesday to conduct its bimonthly meeting. It was the first time the commission has ever met on the Navajo Nation, according to Commissioner Willie Grayeyes. More than 50 people attended the meeting, around two-thirds of whom were Navajo. 

Photo of cows.
Judy Fahys / KUER

Colorado residents Rose Chilcoat and her husband, Mark Franklin, were leaving southeastern Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument after a camping trip in April 2017 when they were pulled over by three cowboys in a pickup truck.

Utah has 29 counties, but it could get a few more under a bill awaiting debate at the Utah Legislature. A proposal being pushed by Rep. Kim Coleman, R-West Jordan would allow communities to break off and form their own county.

Erik Neumann / KUER

Two Navajo Democrats won an election last November in Southern Utah’s San Juan County. In the lead-up to the election, the county was redistricted after coming under fire for alleged racial gerrymandering.

Photo of commissioners.
Judy Fahys / KUER

MONITCELLO — San Juan County reached an historic milestone earlier this month when a Native American majority assumed control of a county’s governing body — a first for Utah.

Photo of San Juan County commission swearing in
Judy Fahys/KUER

MONTICELLO — In an historic first, Native Americans hold the majority on the San Juan County Commission following a packed swearing in ceremony Monday in Monticello.

Erik Neumann / KUER

A historic election near Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah faces a legal challenge as Republicans have appealed a federal judge’s earlier ruling that allowed the eventual winner to be on the ballot.

Erik Neumann / KUER

The court battle over whether Willie Grayeyes, who appears to have won a seat on the San Juan County Commission, should have been allowed to run for office in Utah has ended, after a federal judge ruled last week to dismiss the case.

Photo of Willie Grayeyes.
Erik Neumann / KUER

A small but symbolic race in San Juan County has captured the attention of Utahns far outside County Commission District 2, which is home to Utah’s portion of the Navajo Nation and the Bears Ears National Monument.

Julia Ritchey / KUER

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday that its sending officials to monitor Tuesday’s election in San Juan County, following similar election poll-watching efforts in 2016.

Photo of Holland waving from truckbed.
Marsha Holland 2018 Campaign

He’s a Republican candidate with a criminal conviction and name recognition that make him a local hero. She’s a political novice who’s raised four times as much campaign cash while running without any political party affiliation.

Photo of Grayeyes at canyon.
Erik Neumann / KUER

On a recent Sunday evening around dusk, Willie Grayeyes stood on a sagebrush and juniper-studded mesa, scanning the southeast Utah landscape. It was a place the Navajo Democrat’s family had lived for generations and where he’s hoping to be part of a political first.

Willie Grayeyes
Judy Fahys / KUER

A Navajo man will be put back on the ballot for a Utah county commission seat after a judge sided with him Tuesday in his lawsuit against a county that disqualified him in the first election since a judge ruled local voting districts were illegally drawn based on race.

Judy Fahys / KUER

A lawsuit announced this week in Salt Lake City focuses on a contested county commission seat, newly redrawn voting districts and a Navajo candidate well known for his opposition to shrinking the Bears Ears National Monument.

Courtesy/Mark Maryboy

San Juan County is asking a federal court to finalize a recent decision on voting districts. County leaders want to appeal the ruling, as the county’s Native American majority applauds it.

Judy Fahys/KUER

There’s a little round building in front of the visitors’ center in Blanding. It’s San Juan County’s memorial to those who’ve served or died in the military. Toni Turk is showing me around.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

President Donald Trump told Utah leaders Friday he’s going to shrink the boundaries of two national monuments in Utah. Supporters and opponents of the move are already stepping up to make their views known.

Howard Berkes / NPR

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, says he received a surprise phone call from President Donald Trump Friday about shrinking the Bears Ears National Monument. In a news release, Hatch says the president told him: “I’m approving the Bears Ears recommendation for you, Orrin.”

Judy Fahys / KUER News

San Juan County in southeastern Utah has just two incorporated communities: Monticello and Blanding. Now the village of Bluff may soon be adding itself to that list.

KUER

The San Juan County Sheriff and two of his deputies will remain on the job for now. All three were charged Friday with criminal misconduct and obstructing an investigation.

Judy Fahys/KUER

 

San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman says he might look to the county for legal help after he was told to find a new lawyer to fight federal criminal charges over an ATV protest he led last spring.

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