Jon Kovash

News Correspondent - Moab

Originally from Wyoming, Jon Kovash has practiced journalism throughout the intermountain west. He was editor of the student paper at Denver’s Metropolitan College and an early editor at the Aspen Daily News. He served as KOTO/Telluride’s news director for fifteen years, during which time he developed and produced Thin Air, an award-winning regional radio news magazine that ran on 20 community stations in the Four Corners states. In Utah his reports have been featured on KUER/SLC and KZMU/Moab. Kovash is a senior correspondent for Mountain Gazette and plays alto sax in “Moab’s largest garage band."

Jon Kovash

It’s a sunny Saturday morning in Moab, and in two new homes on Locust Lane, the city's mayor leads a large crowd in a conga line, spurred by Moab’s Fiery Furnace Marching Band. Among the dancers is Jason Provonost, the lead builder and teacher for an innovative housing program called Community Rebuilds.

National Parks Service

Even back in 2013 it was controversial, when Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources helicoptered 35 mountain goats, from the Tusher Mountains to the LaSal Mountains above Moab.

Jon Kovash

At places like Bears Ears and Standing Rock, mainstream green groups have united with Native Americans to an unprecedented degree. Following that trend, the Grand Canyon Trust and Northern Arizona University invited a host of Four Corners tribal members to it’s third annual “Uplift” conference, which is designed to bring together a new generation of activists.

Jon Kovash

 

For the past six years, a Moab Restaurant owner has been running a mobile kitchen to feed wildlife firefighters in Utah and New Mexico. This week, he will be in Texas serving hot meals to flood victims. 

 


Recently Jim Winder, Salt Lake County’s long-time sheriff, stepped down to become police chief in Moab. He talked to UPR's Jon Kovash about the tribulations of the department, which still has numerous vacancies to fill.

Utah environmental regulators are taking comments through July on whether the controversial White Mesa uranium mill should be allowed to continue to operate. 

Jon Kovash

As President Trump resolves to rescind the Bears Ears National Monument designation, opinion in San Juan County remains divided, with Native Americans pitted against conservative political leaders. But the proposal to also shrink Grand Staircase/Escalante has galvanized pro-monument opposition among the business communities in the rest of Southern Utah’s small towns, from Bluff to Kanab, Escalante, Boulder, St. George and Moab.

Jon Kovash

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s tour of Utah has concluded, but representatives from southern Utah’s tribes, business leaders, environmental organizations and nonprofits say nobody listened to them.

Jon Kovash

We were a stones throw from the Arizona border. Hundreds of mostly Navajos and Utes, from Utah and the Four Corners, traveled long miles in sudden winter conditions, to gather at the well-heated Monument Valley Welcome Center. Residents of remote desert chapters mingled with the highest ranks of elected leadership from the Navajo Nation and the Utah Dine Bikeyah, and a smattering of sympathetic activists from regional environmental groups. 

Jon Kovash

Mark Maryboy has been a key Bears Ears consultant for Utah Dine Bikeyah and the five tribe coalition. I spoke with him at the Twin Rocks Café in Bluff.

Jon Kovash

I spoke with Phil Lyman, San Juan County Commissioner, in Monticello where last week he proclaimed on the court house steps that the Bears Ears designation will be reversed.

Heidi Snyder

A new plan is in the works for National Forests in Southeast Utah. It's been 31 years since the Forest Plans were last updated, and one of the bigger issues so far is grazing on public lands. 

Jon Kovash

Moab recently concluded it’s sixth annual Pride Festival, and this year’s guest of honor was noted slam poetry pioneer Regie Cabico, who conducted poetry readings, workshops and slams. 

Jon Kovash

It’s been called “cryptogamic” or “microbiotic” or cryptobiotic.”  It’s that thin crust of lichens, fungus and moss that grows where nothing else will grow. In the last decade, a growing group of scientists have concluded that this crust is a critical element in the survival of the planet.

In the last year in Utah, three people - all women - have died after their Polaris ATV caught fire. 

Utah Department of Environmental Quality

Twice a year, the Cameco uranium mine in central Wyoming sends a truckload of a mining byproduct known in the trade as “barium sludge” to the White Mesa uranium mill south of Blanding. The last two truckloads have resulted in highway spills. The most recent was on March 29th. Ken Vaughn is a Cameco spokesman for the Smith Ranch uranium mine, which is near Casper, Wyoming.

Jon Kovash

This week Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is visiting multiple towns in Southeast Utah to hear local concerns about federal lands. 

Blake McCord

Do young people care more about climate change than old people? That’s part of the premise of a new outreach effort by the Grand Canyon Trust. 

Back in 2014, the Flagstaff-based Grand Canyon Trust launched an experimental new program called “Uplift.” The idea is to create a regional conservation movement specifically aimed at young people.

In a few weeks, Utah’s Federal District Court will begin deliberations on the White Mesa uranium mill, and whether it threatens the health of the local Ute Mountain Ute community. 

The lawsuit was filed by the Grand Canyon Trust on behalf of the Utes who live at White Mesa, south of Blanding.

 A federal court has sided with the Navajo Nation by ordering San Juan County to create new voting districts that grant equal power to Navajo voters.


Jon Kovash

During the past few months, 27 new wind towers have appeared above the town of Monticello, and it took many long years to make it happen.

Utah representatives Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz are unveiling their long-awaited Public Lands Initiative in Salt Lake City. But Utah’s Navajos and Utes, along with conservation groups, have joined to focus instead on persuading President Obama to create a Bears Ears national monument. 


The long-awaited first draft of the proposed Utah Public Lands Initiative, authored by congressional members Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz, is set for public release. The draft is already under fire from Utah’s tribal and green groups.

 


googleimages

An increasing number of residents and public interest groups say Utah has essentially hijacked funds meant to alleviate the local impacts of oil and gas drilling.

Earlier in October in Escalante, on the edge of the Grand Staircase, the weather was beautiful, but 150 people chose to sit in a darkened auditorium to watch slides of Utah rock art.

 

It’s called the Utah Rock Art Research Association, the biggest and oldest such group, and it’s president, Richard Jenkinson, was one of the presenters at the once a year event.

 

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