Utah News

Utah News and UPR Newsline are productions of Utah Public Radio. Our news partners include: The Standard-Examiner and The Herald Journal.


According to a recent study, 48,000 of Utah’s undocumented immigrants will qualify for temporary amnesty as outlined in Thursday’s executive action by President Barack Obama. The report from the Migration Policy Institute shows that the 55 percent of undocumented immigrants in the state who now qualify for amnesty is the highest rate in the entire United States.


Every five years, the U.S. Geological Survey publishes a water usage report showing how the nation fares in water consumption. The 2010 report was published earlier this month.  

In conjunction with the release of the report, media have touted that Utah is the worst in the nation for water consumption, but Molly Maupin, a hydrologist with the USGS, said it depends on the category and how the data is being compared.    


A Salt Lake City-based water treatment company with offices around the world is set to open a new facility, partnering with Utah State University. WesTech has hired a growing number of Utah State biological and environmental engineering graduates in recent years. The company aims to use the new facility at the university’s Innovation Campus to continue its research into turning water waste into resources.

Gender signs

Along with the quizzes about which states you’ve visited and which Disney character is your spirit animal, another online survey has been spreading like wildfire across Facebook pages in Utah—the Mormon Gender Issues Survey.

Unlike other online quizzes, the gender issues survey has the backing of researchers from universities across the nation, who plan to publish the survey findings.

Homeless Youth Facility

Volunteers of America unveiled plans last week to build a new resource center for homeless youth in Salt Lake City.

Zach Bale, chief development officer for the project, said the new 30-bed overnight shelter will serve the immediate needs of youth, but also will include services to help those being served to overcome their circumstances.

“We knew that both having a safe overnight shelter has been really important, but maybe even more important [is] expanded education and employment support for the youth,” Bale said. “We’re going to have a lot more space, classroom space, to provide those types of services.”


Forty percent of eligible voters in Utah participated during the recent mid-term elections. Official numbers released Tuesday showed that the number is one of the lowest on record. To reach more voters, some counties switched to all mail-in voting. Duchesne County, switching to vote-by-mail to serve rural areas, beat the state average with 51 percent participation in the election. Cache County, also making the move to mail-in voting, experienced similar success. Voter participation grew in the last midterm, said Jill Zollinger, the Cache County Clerk.

An Old Power Company Scam Makes A Comeback

Nov 18, 2014
Rocky Mountain Power

An old scam is using a new technology to fool unsuspecting customers of Rocky Mountain Power. Because of this, the company has issued a warning to their customers to be leery of anyone calling them for payment of over-due bills.

The perpetrators called businesses, as well as residents, claiming that their bill is overdue and aggressively demand payment in the past scam. According to Paul Murphy, spokesperson for Rocky Mountain Power, the new tricks are easier to fall for.

“They use a caller ID system that makes it look like the call is coming from Rocky Mountain Power," Murphy said. "And they actually give a number that when you call, sounds like the automated telephone answering service used by Rocky Mountain Power, so it’s a very sophisticated way of doing a very old thing which is to take your money.”

Spanish Fork Library To Pay Fines With Food

Nov 17, 2014

Hunger and library fines are two things that no one likes. In an effort to get rid of both, the Spanish Fork Library has continued its “Food for Fines” program. The program allows patrons of the library to bring in cans of non-perishable food and exchange them for forgiveness on late fees. According to Pam Jackson, the Director of the Library, the cans of food will be donated to a local food pantry.

Utah Farm-Chef-Fork Gets Extension

Nov 17, 2014
Farm chef fork logo
USU Extension

Agriculture is one of the largest industries in Utah, and it takes some effort to locate farms and what products they provide around the state. Roslynn Brain is an associate professor at Utah State University Extension Sustainability. She said farmers can get lost in the online world, which is how most people find their information.

Brain runs the Utah Farm-Chef-Fork project, a program that trains both farmers and chefs about direct marketing benefits as well as training in things such as social marketing. The project has just received a two and a half year funding cycle.

“Research also shows that when farmers use direct marketing– selling directly at farmers markets or to restaurants–  is an effective way to increase their income and decrease farmland loss,” she said.

The Census of Agriculture results from 1982 to 2007 show that more than 300,000 acres of land have been lost due to population growth. That is more than 50 acres a day of farmland that is lost to development.

Governor Herbert in front of Utah, US flags
Governor's Office

Just after receiving recommendations on reforms to Utah’s criminal justice system on Tuesday, Governor Gary Herbert addressed the looming problem of poor air quality, water consumption and federal protection of the sage grouse in his monthly media conference.

Herbert said Utah’s air quality problem has effects that extend beyond negative consequences for health.

“It’s not just a health issue; it is also an economic development issue, and if we don’t get a handle on our air quality, we will in fact slow economic expansion,” he said.


Egyptian farmers grow crops along the fertile banks of the Nile, providing necessary resources for the surrounding communities, but also generating significant waste from crops such as cotton, bananas and rice.

“You have two choices: you either burn it or plow it into the soil. But, if they plow it they risk disease and other things, so it’s easier to burn it,” said Utah State University professor of biological engineering Foster Agblevor.

He said when the waste products are burned, acidic gases are released into the atmosphere, eventually settling on and decomposing the limestone pyramids and other historical monuments.

The Human Rights Campaign

Despite growing support for marriage equality nationally, the relative equality of LGBT people still varies dramatically from city to city, according to a new study.

Utah Airline To Fly Tourists To National Parks

Nov 14, 2014

David Story began with the simple idea of owning a small airline to take tourists to the Grand Canyon in a more convenient way than driving. Now, Story, a pilot since 2005, has plans to expand that service to nearly half a dozen other national parks in Utah and surrounding states. The concept for Utah Airways came to him after his family moved back to Utah from Nevada after his son became seriously ill, he said.

woman holds food

Organizers of the Spice Kitchen Incubator, a program which helps refugees start their own businesses, unveiled their new kitchen space in Salt Lake City yesterday.

Natalie El-Deiry is the department director at the International Rescue Committee and oversees the Spice Kitchen Incubator project. She says her organization had received a growing number of requests from the refugee community for help establishing food businesses. After training entrepreneurs in non-permanent spaces across the city, El-Deiry said she’s excited to see the program finally have a space of its own.

“We provide workshops, technical assistance and training,” El-Deiry said. “We provide access to markets and market opportunities and we provide affordable access to a commercial kitchen.”

Winter Weather Advisory Proves Fall Is Over

Nov 13, 2014
Utah Department of Public Safety

Wednesday had record-setting temperatures reminding Utahns that even though winter doesn’t officially arrive until December 21, keep your winter clothes within hands reach.

Friday, the National Weather Service issued a snow advisory for northern Utah. According to Martin Schroeder, a meteorologist at Utah State University, it is mostly to warn people driving.

“The major concern is for travel conditions on roadways," Schroeder said. "So there’s concern about icing and continued snowfall through the evening as the temperature decreases more.”

On Wednesday, a group of mayors in Iron County stated their case for why the county’s ambulance services should not be sold to private ownership. The mayors met with the county government to discuss the future of the ambulance service. Iron County Commissioners initially put forward the idea of allowing private companies to bid for a contract to provide those services.


A surge of water into the Colorado River is being hailed as an important step in preserving endangered fish species in Grand Canyon National Park. According to Kevin Dahl of the National Parks Conservation Association, increasing the flow of water sends precious sediment down the 277-mile long river.

“The key feature is the sediment that’ll carry in and redistribute along the Colorado River. It will build up sand banks along the river and create habitat that’s conducive to the endangered Humpback Chub in particular,” he said.

Utah Veteran Embarks On His Battle Of Purpose

Nov 11, 2014
Sandoval in Uniform

Veteran’s Day is an annual opportunity for people in the United States to honor the nation’s armed forces, but for one former Utah soldier, this year’s holiday also marks the first steps into a new project which will address issues that linger with veterans and their families after service.

Spc. Jonathan Sandoval returned home from a tour in Iraq two years ago. In many ways Sandoval said the stresses of being a soldier at war hindered his ability to assimilate back into daily civilian life.


Two environmental protection groups are calling out the Bureau of Land Management for alleged misconduct in building a natural gas pipeline near Moab.

Landon Newell with the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance said Fidelity Exploration & Production divided the project into smaller venture proposals to break up the health and environmental analysis of the pipeline.

Historic Provo Home To Be Donated To Lehi Family

Nov 11, 2014

A historic house in Provo is getting a new lease on life as the latest project from Habitat for Humanity. The non-profit group recently finished renovating the nearly 130-year-old house and will now donate the property. According to Kena Jo Mathews, the organization’s Executive Director in Utah County, local housing officials owned the house at the time the project began.

“It was an idea that I had. I knew that the Provo Housing Authority owned it and I knew that they were interested in doing something with it,” she said. “So, I talked to the Provo Housing Authority director [with] the idea that maybe we could do it and that’s kind of how it all was born.”

Alison Einerson

The Winter Market at Salt Lake City’s Rio Grande Station opened for its second year this past weekend. The market keeps the memories of summer farmers markets alive in its indoor location, with over 60 venders selling produce, sauces and jams, meat and baked goods.

Alison Einerson, Winter Market manager, said Saturday’s event drew between 2,500 and 3,000 people, a record crowd.

One St. George-based company is seeking to provide low-interest loans to businesses in rural southern Utah to aid economic development there. Professional Funding is using the U.S. Treasury Department's New Markets Tax Credit program to provide loans to areas considered blighted.

Southern Utah’s population growth provides great opportunities to create jobs, said Rick Conner of Professional Funding.

NAACP Claims Darrien Hunt's Civil Rights May Be Violated

Nov 10, 2014
Darrien Hunt

Information updated 11/12/14. 

On Monday, officials from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People announced they have requested an independent investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice into Darrien Hunt’s death.

NAACP officials said during a press conference that race played a factor in the shooting of the 22-year-old African American male by two Caucasian police officers. They claim improper use of fatal force could be a violation of Hunt’s civil rights.


About 40 percent of Utahns who were eligible to vote cast their ballots on Tuesday, Nov. 4. This is a record-low for voter participation in Utah.  According to Justin Lee,  deputy director of elections for the Lieutenant Governor, the official measure will be known later this month.

“Some of it is estimating. One of the things we don’t know until all the votes and results are certified in a couple of weeks [is] what the final number will be,” he said. “Basically, what we’re doing is taking the number of active voters, then taking the number of people that voted and then just dividing that number up.”

Utah Public School Enrollment Continues To Grow

Nov 7, 2014
Elementary School Students

About 9,600 additional students enrolled in Utah public schools this year, an increase of 1.5 percent.

This may seem like a sizable number, but Mark Peterson with the Utah State Office of Education said it is not out of the ordinary.

“This is actually slowing down a little bit,” Peterson said. “It’s been up and down over the years, but it’s been as high recently as about 2.5 percent back in 2008 and above 3 percent in 2006.”

There was a 1.7 percent increase in 2013, according to Peterson.