Southeast Utah Bureau | KUER 90.1

Southeast Utah Bureau

Rufus and Marsha Ellington
Kate Groetzinger/ KUER News

Warning: this report includes offensive language.

Updated 12:18 p.m. 7/8/20

Residents of Price and nearby Helper have revived calls for the Price City police chief to step down, due to concerns that he is racially biased. Calls for his resignation first came in 2017, after Brandon Sicilia, then a sergeant, posted derogatory comments about Black and Muslim people on Facebook, and again in 2019, when he was promoted to police chief. 

A woman in a red vest looks at a display of missing persons posters.
Courtesy of Meskee Yatsayte

State and federal officials are launching new efforts to address the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Utah, after a nationwide study called attention to the issue in 2018. 

A group of people standing on the sidewalk.
Kate Groetzinger/ KUER News

Masks are a contentious issue in Moab. Local officials have pushed visitors to voluntarily use them since tourism resumed, but many visitors aren’t complying. Now, the Grand County Council is pushing to make face coverings mandatory inside all public places and businesses. 

Photo of a man walking toward the edge of the mesa
Guerric / Creative Commons

The Bureau Of Land Management has proposed leasing 114,000 acres of public land in Utah to energy developers, including land adjacent to some of Utah’s most iconic national parks. 

Photo of people sitting, kneeling and lying in a street with signs including “Justice For George Floyd.”
Kate Groetzinger/KUER

MOAB—Watching hundreds of people take to the streets in Moab on Friday night to demand an end to racial inequality and police brutality brought tears to Desirae Miller’s eyes. 

A line of people on a sidewalk hold signs that say "She was my sister" and "Have you seen us? Pueblo Nations"
Courtesy of Meskee Yatsayte

In a first of its kind call Friday, a task force set up by President Donald Trump that focuses on missing and murdered indigenous women hosted a forum to discuss how the crisis is affecting Native Americans in the Southwest. 

Photo of a crowded sidewalk
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

MOAB — As Arches and Canyonlands national parks prepare to reopen this weekend, Gov. Gary Herbert has rejected a request from Grand County officials to limit overnight lodging. 

Photo of Tsosie standing next to posters of her classmates.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

MONUMENT VALLEY — It’s a bright and blustery day at Monument Valley High School, and the graduation decorations in the courtyard keep blowing away.

Photo of the arch
Jan Willem Broekema via Creative Commons

BLUFF — Business has completely dried up at Canyonlands Jeep Adventures in Moab. 

Photo of a red awning over a shop window that reads "Red rock bakery and cafe"
Courtesy of Howard Trenholm

It's been more than a month since Red Rocky Bakery owner Howard Trenholm closed his business in Moab because he wasn't making enough money. But now that tourists will be allowed to visit again, he's getting ready to reopen — reluctantly. 

A decorative road sign welcomes visitors to Moab.
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

COVID-19 has hit workers in Moab especially hard, since many are unemployed in the winter and go back to work in the spring. 

Photo of people wearing masks and standing outside
Sahar Khadjenoury / UNHS

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in San Juan County more than tripled in the past week — and most of those are on the Navajo Nation. The number of cases went from 11 on April 15 to 34 on Wednesday, and only two of those are off the reservation.

Photo showing two people wearing personal protective equipment are under a tent outside
Utah Navajo Health System for KUER

The Utah Department of Health has deployed a mobile COVID-19 testing task force to the Navajo Nation. It started in Navajo Mountain on Monday and will move on to Monument Valley on Thursday and Friday. So far all 11 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in San Juan County have been on the Navajo Nation. 

Two people load groceries into a truck in front of a grocery store
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

A 57-hour stay-at-home order will be in effect on the Navajo Nation this weekend to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

Photo of Monument Valley High School Sign that reads
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

MONUMENT VALLEY, Utah — Like most parents, Sheila Holiday is struggling to teach her three children math at home while schools are closed because of COVID-19. But unlike many other parents, she can’t just go online and watch a YouTube video to help explain calculus and fractions, because of where she lives. 

An empty road approaches a park entrance booth, which is out of sight. A rocky ridge rises up in the background.
David Fuchs / KUER

Arches and Canyonlands National Parks closed indefinitely on Saturday, following calls from local governments and public health departments to temporarily shut down the parks to visitors due to coronavirus concerns. 

Photo of the Sheraton Hotel in Salt Lake City
Wikimedia Commons

Erica Ridd worked at a restaurant called Punch Bowl Social in Salt Lake City until last Monday — when she got an email telling her she’d been laid off. 

Photo of census forms mailed to residents
Arianna Pickard / KUER

The Census Bureau has suspended field operations across the U.S. and moved operation deadlines back in response to the coronavirus outbreak. But the bureau is still encouraging all households to respond as soon as possible — online, by phone, or by mail. 

Photo of a sign welcoming people to the city of Bluff in Utah
Wikimedia Commons

BLUFF — Hotel owner Jen Davila normally staffs up in the spring, ahead of the busy tourist season. But this year nothing is normal. 

Screengrab of a man speaking in a recorded press conference
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer Facebook page

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez on Wednesday issued an executive order banning travel to the Navajo Nation. The move comes after two Navajo Nation residents on Tuesday tested positive for coronavirus, after traveling off the reservation. 

Photo of a road sign that welcomes visitors to moab
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

Hotels in Moab will not admit new visitors for the next 30 days because of coronavirus, health officials announced Tuesday. 

Photo of a line of cars at the entrance of Arches National Park.
KUER File Photo

Updated 9:11 a.m. MDT 3/17/2020

“Please. Do. More. Now.” 

That's the message Moab Regional Hospital sent yesterday to Gov. Gary Herbert. In a letter, the hospital’s leadership asked Herbert to close all non-essential businesses in Moab for two weeks because of the coronavirus outbreak. They wrote that Moab could see up to 6,000 visitors next weekend, based on current hotel bookings. 

Photo of the Flaming Gorge dam.
Wikimedia Commons

Legislation to study the cost of diverting water from the Green River to the Wasatch Front is headed for a final vote in the State Senate this week. But opponents say the potential project is misguided. 

Photo of three men and a woman sitting at a table smiling and signing papers
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

TEEC NOS POS, ARIZ. — A 2-year-old stalemate over who should maintain roads on the Navajo Nation in San Juan County ended Monday, with the signing of a new road maintenance agreement. But county officials say the arrangement doesn’t go far enough. 

Photo of the slickrock bike trail
Wikimedia Commons

Moab and Grand County officials breathed a sigh of relief last week, when the Bureau of Land Management announced it will defer leasing land inside the Sand Flats Recreation Area to oil and gas developers in an upcoming lease sale. 

Photo of bikers on the Slick Rock trail
Wikimedia Commons

Updated 1:21 p.m. MT 2/19/20

MOAB — The Sand Flats recreation area is home to two of Moab’s main attractions: the world-famous Slickrock Bike Trail and the Hell’s Revenge Jeep Trail. Together, they draw thousands of visitors here every year, contributing millions of dollars to the local economy.

Photo of Bears Ears Buttes.
KUER File Photo

Updated 11:33 a.m. MST 2/15/2020

The recently released management plans for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante national monuments, already slammed by tribes and environmentalists, may also violate federal law, according to a new law review article by two University of Utah researchers. 

A trailer, a shack and a house with solar panels sit on a hill in the foreground, and a large house sits on a hill in the background.
Kate Groetzinger/KUER

WESTWATER — Just across a shallow canyon from Blanding, around 20 Navajo families live here in small homes and trailers. They rely on solar panels for electricity and haul their water from town, while — less than half a mile away — Blanding residents run dishwashers and appliances off a municipal power and water supply. 

A pump jack at dusk surrounded by sagebrush
Kate Groetzinger / KUER

The Bluff Town Council, tasked with overseeing growth in the recently incorporated community, recently faced a quandary.

Photo of Bears Ears Buttes.
KUER File Photo

Updated 2:24 p.m. MST 2/6/2020

In the face of ongoing litigation from tribes and conservation groups, the Trump administration has finalized plans to expand drilling, mining and grazing across southern Utah — including within the former bounds of Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments. 

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