Utah News

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


On Aug. 1, Utah will kick off its third annual Pacific Island Heritage Month with activities at the Sorenson Unity Center in Salt Lake City.

In 2013, Gov. Gary Herbert declared this month because of the large population of Pacific Islanders who live in Utah.

“Utah has the largest Pacific Island community per percent in all states,” said Susi Feltch-Malohifo’ou, co-founder of Pacific Island Knowledge 2 Action Resources, which founded the Utah Pacific Island Heritage Month.

Aimee Cobabe

Residents in Utah have joined programs aimed at lowering the cost of solar installations.

“Solar has grown very quickly especially in the last three to five years,” said Kate Bowman, Solar Project Coordinator for Utah Clean Energy, a public interest organization. “Looking back to 2009, on average Utah’s cumulative solar capacity—so the total amount of solar in the state—has increased by 82 percent each year. So that’s almost doubling each year since 2009.”

Owens Enters 2016 Congressional Rematch

Jul 21, 2015

On Tuesday, former Democratic Party candidate Doug Owens announced that he has officially entered the 2016 race for Congress in Utah’s fourth district. Owens plans to challenge incumbent Mia Love for the House seat, as he did in 2014. His candidacy has some optimistic that the Democratic Party can regain a House seat in Utah.

Utah Democratic Party Chair Peter Corroon said that increased voter turnout will ultimately help Owens’ candidacy.

Jennifer Pemberton

UPR  has been asking listeners how drought has impacted their lives. Low water levels at some lakes and reservoirs mean Utahns might have to adjust their summer recreation plans. Jennifer Pemberton has this report on the effect of drought on Utah’s state parks.

Christopher Campbell

In May, an autoethnographic study about a former Brigham Young University graduate student’s experiences with post-traumatic stress disorder was released for the public to read.

When Warren Price returned home from Iraq for the Utah Army National Guard, he suffered from PTSD, a mental condition in which people suffer high amounts of stress after having experienced a traumatic event.

A lot of veterans are afflicted with the disorder, and Price said when they come home to society, the problems exacerbate.

Camp Williams

Governors of six states have declared that soldiers can now carry firearms at National Guard facilities. Gov. Gary Herbert released a statement Saturday urging the Utah National Guard to explore additional security options for state military installations. These actions come in response to last Thursday’s shooting at a naval facility in Tennessee which left four Marines and one sailor dead.

U.S. Department of Commerce

A partnership involving the U.S. Department of Agriculture and NASA could benefit farmers in Utah and elsewhere as the nation adjusts to the impact of climate change. Krysta Harden is the deputy secretary for the USDA and said the agreement will expand cooperation on space-borne remote sensing efforts to gather data to develop soil moisture maps that can help farmers in the drought-ravaged Southwest.

Visitors To Utah Parks Increasing

Jul 17, 2015

Tourism to Utah’s national parks has grown substantially in recent years. Over 20 million people per year visit the state’s wilderness areas. The increase in tourism is due partially to a well-funded marketing campaign by the state government. However, many people are hearing about the Beehive State’s natural treasures through other means.

Dennis Godfrey of the Bureau of Land Management’s Arizona office said that the increase in visitors to Paria Canyon –which sits on both sides of the Utah-Arizona border –is mostly attributed to word-of-mouth advertising.

Report Shows Utah Caregivers Make Huge Contribution

Jul 17, 2015
News Service

A new report by AARP measures the huge economic contribution made by Utahns who act as caregivers for a family member, partner or friend.

AARP’s "Valuing the Invaluable" report, which was released on Thursday, shows that in 2013, 336,000 unpaid caregivers in the state provided care valued at more than $4 billion.

Susan Reinhard with the organization said on the national level, the numbers are huge.

Alton Coal Mine Expansion Sparks Controversy

Jul 16, 2015

Alton Coal Development is trying to expand its coal-mining tract by about 3,500 acres, where it will run for an additional 25 years.

In 2011, the Bureau of Land Management released a draft Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, to outline how the project would affect the environment, including air quality and noise pollution.

Nathaniel Shoaff, staff attorney for the Sierra Club, said after the statement was released, 170,000 people spoke out against the expansion. He attributed the large outcry to the mine’s proximity to Bryce Canyon National Park.

Frustration Growing Over Delay Of Healthy Utah

Jul 16, 2015

Wednesday, various organizations held a press conference in Salt Lake City to urge elected officials to finalize a plan to pass Republican Gov. Gary Herbert’s Healthy Utah. Some supporters of Healthy Utah are growing frustrated with the apparent lack of progress in negotiations between the governor and legislative leaders, collectively known as the “Gang of Six.”

Crystal Young-Otterstrom, chair of the Utah Democratic Party’s Latter-day Saint caucus, said that needless delays in the process have become absurd.

Students Could Soon See Less Standardized Testing

Jul 15, 2015

A bill moving through Congress could dramatically reduce standardized testing for kindergarten-through-12th-grade students in Utah and around the nation.

The Every Child Achieves Act would stop much of the testing linked to the No Child Left Behind law, said Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, president of the Utah Education Association. In her view, the testing - which takes several weeks of the school year - has done more harm than good, for students and teachers.

Nuclear Iran Deal Opposed By Utah Congressmen

Jul 14, 2015

It was announced Tuesday that several nations, including the United States, have reached an agreement with Iran concerning its nuclear program. Supporters of the deal hailed it as a diplomatic achievement. Iran agreed to accept some curbing of its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. Uranium enrichment is, according to the plan, to be kept under the amount needed for a nuclear bomb.

USU Extension

A professor at Utah State University is using his degrees in family and human development and health and wellness to combine his expertise in an effort to find ways to reduce the drop-out rate among children who participate in sports.  

New York Senate

John Gleason is the public information officer for Utah’s Department of Transportation and said Utah’s roads are not going to be able to keep up with the projected growth over the next 35 years.


On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker, announced 12 communities across the U.S. that will receive federal funding to help attract manufacturing companies and create jobs. Among them is a Utah initiative.  

The Utah Advanced Materials Manufacturing Initiative has been working for years to align local manufacturing communities with state and federal funding programs. The director of the group, Greg Jones, said federal funding will continue to support Utah as a manufacturing state.

UDOT Puts Humorous Messages On Freeways

Jul 8, 2015
Christopher Campbell

Virtual message signs, electronic signs above freeways that can change what they say at different times, have recently had humorous messages on them. This is part of Utah Department of Transportation’s “Message Monday” campaign.

Some of these messages include “Turn signals, the original instant message” and “Steering wheel, not a hands free device.”

UDOT’s public information officer, John Gleason, said his personal favorite is the first one the department used in the campaign: “That seatbelt looks good on you.” He said it received the most positive feedback.

Christopher Campbell

A group of cross-country bicyclists are stopping by St. George this week to do some service work.

Bike and Build is a non-profit organization that sends young adults to ride bicycles across the country and do service projects along the way.

One group will arrive on Wednesday after having ridden more than 3,000 miles from Jacksonville, Florida.

Their goal is to raise funds towards projects that promote affordable housing and awareness about the issue.

Investigation Targets Unlicensed Contractors

Jul 7, 2015

Last Friday, the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing announced it had completed a two-week sting operation to catch fraudulent construction activity. As a result of the investigation, over $20,000 in fines were issued across the state. Changes in industry and technology have forced state officials to find new ways of finding rule-breakers.

The investigation focused on trouble spots of unlicensed activity across northern and southern Utah. Mark Steinagel, Director of the DOPL, said that trouble spots rose alongside increased demands in the housing market.

Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Impacts Health Coverage

Jul 7, 2015
News Service

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage has far-reaching impacts, which include triggering a special enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act.

Jason Stevenson with the Utah Health Policy Project — which helps people get coverage through the ACA — said marriage is among the "qualifying life events" that create the special enrollment period.


The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has teamed up with other Utah organizations including parentsempowered.org to educate adults of the costs of underage drinking.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, underage drinking increases during summer months. In Utah, red and white tags will appear throughout the summer in state liquor stores. The tags are meant to remind buyers that there is a $2,500 fine and the possibility of a jail sentence for giving alcohol to anyone under the age of 21.

Utah State University Extension

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has rejected a proposal to list the North American wild horse as a threatened or endangered species.  Friends of Animals and the Cloud Foundation filed a petition last summer seeking protection for thousands of mustangs they say are threatened with extinction on federal lands across 10 western states.

Conservationists, including wildlife ecologist Craig Downer argue the horses constitute a distinct population segment that has evolved as a native species over thousands of years separate from domesticated horses.

Utah Department of Transportation

Since the implementation of the seatbelt law on May 12, approximately 6,000 people have been pulled over for breaking the new law.  885 of those stopped were cited and fined. And while the numbers show that seatbelts are effective at saving lives, Jack Bennett, a Utah resident, doesn’t think people should be forced to wear a safety belt while driving or riding in a vehicle.

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

The osprey have returned for the summer to Flaming Gorge Reservoir in the corner of northeast Utah. To give the public an opportunity to see the osprey catch fish, the Division of Wildlife Resources will hold a viewing event July 11 at the gorge.

According to Ron Stewart, the northeastern regional conservation outreach manager for the Division of Wildlife Resources, the birds are often mistaken for bald eagles but the osprey can fish in a way the bald eagle cannot.

A photo of the book Redemption Bay. Several sailboats sit on a small lake surrounded by mountains.

RaeAnne Thayne, New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author, has now written her golden anniversary book number 50.

“Every book is a new challenge, every book seems harder than the one before, even though I’ve written so many books," Thayne said. "You do. You have to dig deeper, you have to try harder to stretch yourself and to continue to give your reader something new and exciting.”