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

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.

 

 The Navajo Nation is demanding immediate voting reforms in San Juan County, where it’s charged that Native American voters continue to be denied equal weight.

San Juan County and the Navajo Nation are still embroiled in court over whether the county’s voting districts unfairly shut out Native America voters, who constitute a majority of the county’s population. Now the Navajo Human Rights Commission is charging that mail-in balloting and the closing of remote polling places has reduced turnout for Navajo voters.

The national discussion over the issue of racism has led to new efforts by some in Utah to rename Dixie State College in St. George, and Negro Bill Canyon in Moab.

This week, in a 4-3 vote, the Grand County Council once again rejected a proposal to rename Negro Bill Canyon. The majority cited opposition to the name change by the NAACP office in Salt Lake City. The change was originally proposed last year by African American resident, Louis Williams, who has argued that the current name clouds the real history of William Grandstaff, one of Moab’s earliest settlers.

  

The recent controversy over the Confederate flag has prompted some Moab residents to again call for the renaming of Negro Bill Canyon. 


Jon Kovash

Arches National Park has reached an agreement with the State of Utah regarding water rights in the park.

Pinnacle Helicopters

Eight companies are approved to conduct scenic air tours over Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, including Redtail Aviation, which said it has tripled in size in the last 10 years. Two years ago, Pinnacle Helicopters was added to the mix.

Jon Kovash

Moab’s Youth Rock Camp has more than doubled in size this year. Thirty students, aged 8 to 14, signed up; enough to form six bands. The rock camp was launched and is directed by Amy Stocks, a local musician and staffer at the teen center.

“The volunteers have really stepped up and really helped us out,” Stocks said. “We’ve got some amazing roadies. I think roadies are the answer to life’s problems.”

Once again, some of the best musicians in Moab have given a week of their time to coach promising young rock stars. They included guitarist Lisa Hathaway.

Sara Fields

Thanks to a citizen watchdog group, the owner of uranium mines on the south flanks of the La Sal Mountains, near Moab, will have to provide more data on potential environmental impacts.

Whit Richardson

Last weekend hundreds of mountain bike connoisseurs converged on Moab to try out the latest and greatest gear.

The event is called Outerbike, and the idea came from Ashley Korenblat, proprietor of the Western Spirit bike shop in Moab.

billboard for airport
moablive.com

A dwindling number of air carriers serve remote towns with federal subsidies from the Essential Air Service, or EAS program. In Utah, they include Moab, Vernal and Cedar City. In May, two out of the three are set to lose their air service to Salt Lake City. It’s a game of musical chairs that isn’t set to end soon.


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