Landlocked Utah is now home to the ninth-largest aquarium in the nation. After years of planning and preparation, the Draper location of the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium opened its doors to the public this week.
Utah’s kill rate for animals in shelters has dropped by nearly 30 percent in the last 15 years, and a new coalition of animal welfare groups is hoping to push that number even lower.
A new campaign titled No-Kill Utah was launched Sunday by the Best Friends Animal Society and a coalition of 36 other animal welfare groups. Best Friends’ CEO Gregory Castle explained the goal is for the state to reach no-kill status, which means finding homes for at least 90 percent of the animals taken in by shelters.
Jim Dabakis resigned from the state chair of the Democratic Party on March 24 due to health problems. The Democratic Party is now looking for a new candidate to fill the position.
Anna Thompson is the communications director for the Utah Democratic Party and said Dabakis’s health problems developed quickly but refused to comment further regarding his well-being.
She said while Dabakis has resigned from the chair, he will seek re-election for his Utah Senate seat.
“As it stands now, the party staff will stay on and keep things moving forward,” Thompson said. “Jose Valadez, our intrepid vice chair, will serve as acting chair.”
Thompson said the party will vote for a new chair on April 26 at the state convention in Salt Lake City.
The chair has the responsibility of being the face and the voice of Democrats across the state.
“In an election year, you are working with a lot of candidates, you are traveling the state, you are going to county conventions and you are kind of acting as that most prominent voice on the behalf of the party,” Thompson said.
Earlier this week a Salt Lake City homeowner attempting to put in a backyard pond uncovered human remains. The Salt Lake City Police Department determined the bones were ancient. Now, specialists from the Utah Department of Heritage and Arts are investigating. The department’s Geoffrey Fattah explained.
Thirty-three percent of Utahns think the state’s "exceptional workforce" is responsible for its economic growth, according to numbers from a poll by the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah and Dan Jones & Associates.
Another 26 percent think the state’s quality of life is the main factor while 19 percent think incentives that encourage businesses to relocate and expand to Utah are the cause of growth.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is looking for foster families for nearly 3,000 pheasant chicks. The DWR’s Dean Mitchell said the chicks will need families to care for them from May through October, when they will be released to state wildlife and waterfowl management areas.
“The purpose behind this program is to really get people interested in wildlife and engaged in wildlife and wildlife conservation here in Utah,” Mitchell said.
Utah will receive $19.6 million in an annual payout of taxes from the federal government to be used for fish and wildlife conservation projects.The allocated money is part of $1.1 billion in taxes collected on sporting and boating equipment each year.
Mark Hadley from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources says many Utahns don’t realize hunters and anglers pay for much of the wildlife conservation efforts in the state.
On Saturday, a collision between a barge and a ship on the Houston Ship Channel resulted in nearly 170,000 gallons of tar-like oil spilling into the water. The difficult to disperse sludge had reached 12 miles off the Gulf of Mexico by Sunday.
Media reports that now is the peak of the shorebird migration season, and that 10 oiled birds had been found and sent to a wildlife rehabilitation center as of Sunday afternoon.
Dr. Joseph Tainter, a professor of environment and society at Utah State University, calls the spill a reminder of the price of society's dependence on oil.
The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, is campaigning to have more rural Americans sign up for insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act before the enrollment deadline ends on Monday, March 31st. Vilsack says changes to health insurance coverage helps protect rural Americans who may have lost their insurance before the ACA was implemented.
“It is a population in which farmers and ranchers are exposed to the dangers of farming with all of the equipment that they have to deal with,” Vilsack said. “They could be faced with some serious illnesses or injuries that could result, in the past, in losing their coverage.”