Utah News

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


Utah ranks second among all 50 states and six territories in total toxic chemical releases per square mile, according to new figures released by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The statistics regarding the releases are recorded in the Toxic Release Inventory, or TRI. According to the EPA, the TRI monitors the handling of toxic chemicals that put the environment and human health at risk. Industrial facilities are required to annually report how much toxic chemicals are released, recycled, or treated. The inventory was established by an act of Congress in 1986.

Jennifer Pemberton

If it passes, it would be one of the strictest wood burning bans in the nation. State officials are accepting public comment on a proposed winter burn ban. UPR’s Jennifer Pemberton has this report on the overwhelming opposition expressed at Wednesday night’s public hearing in Logan.

In the simplest terms it’s the right to burn versus the right to breathe. At least that’s how those who oppose and support a seasonal ban on wood burning in Northern Utah are voicing it.

Governor Herbert tasked the state Air Quality Board with probing public opinion on the ban, which would prohibit use of all wood stoves in seven inversion-prone Utah counties from Nov. 1 to March 15 in an effort to limit winter air pollution.

At the public hearing Wednesday night in Logan the opposition was overwhelming. The sheriff’s office estimates there were 500 people trying to attend the hearing in the Cache County Courthouse with a capacity of 160.

State Party Leaders Respond To State Of The Union

Jan 21, 2015

In his sixth annual address, President Barack Obama proposed new initiatives aimed at helping to bolster the American middle class. Among them, Obama suggested lawmakers focus on raising the minimum wage, making available affordable childcare through a $3000 per child per year tax credit, and having the first two years at community colleges across the country be free of charge to those who qualify.

Peter Corroon, Utah’s Democratic Party Chair, said he agrees with the President’s plan to strengthen the nation through the middle class.

Orem Teacher Heads To Auschwitz

Jan 21, 2015
Jewish Virtual Library

Seventy years ago prisoners were liberated from the former German Nazi concentration and death camps. “Auschwitz: The Past is Present,” is a professional development program developed by the USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education and Discovery Education. 

The non-profit organization is sponsoring a program to give educators an opportunity to learn more about the capture and release of prisoners there. Merinda Davis is a teacher in Orem and is one of only 25 teachers from around the world to be selected to travel to Poland this week.

I asked Davis why she applied and she told me that when she was 12 she was in the public library and saw a book title, “Six Million.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Health officials in Utah County confirmed a third measles case in Utah over the weekend. They say the case, which was detected in a person under the age of 18 who was not vaccinated, was contracted from a person who had visited Disneyland in December. Forty-eight cases of measles have been linked to the Disneyland outbreak. According to the California Department of Public Health, 41 of the cases occurred in California residents, while the other seven were in people visiting from other states and Mexico.

Utah's Coyote Bounty: A Case Of Mistaken Identity?

Jan 16, 2015
Snarling gray wolf

Utah’s coyote bounty program perked ears of hunters and conservationists alike when it was passed in September 2012. Concerns about similarities between coyotes and protected wolf populations are giving some people cause to think the law itself could be in danger of extermination.

In December, a hunter killed a female gray wolf near Beaver after mistaking it for a coyote. The case of mistaken identity was the first documented killing of a gray wolf in Utah by a hunter since the animal was reintroduced into Yellowstone and Idaho in the 1990s.


While the four California animal activists will no longer face charges under Utah’s controversial ag-gag law, Iron County Prosecutors will still be pursuing charges of criminal trespass. The activists were arrested last September attempting to photograph Circle Four Farms.

No attempt is being made to bring the case to trial, said T. Matthew Phillips, attorney of the accused. Actions by the county authorities have been frustrating, he said.

Out-Of-Hospital Births Double In Utah Since 1990

Jan 15, 2015

A new study by the Utah Department of Health shows that out-of-hospital births doubled from 1990 to 2012, with 2,595 children being born at home and 1,098 at unlicensed birthing centers between 2010 and 2012.  

Holly Richardson with the Utah Midwives Organization said women have increasingly chosen non-hospitalized births for financial reasons and because they want reduced medical interventions in the birth process.

“The number of interventions and subsequent potential complications from those interventions are decreased significantly,” Richardson said.

Utahraptor remains
Dr. James I. Kirkland

Inside a nine-ton sandstone block pulled from a mesa outside of Moab could be the key to knowing how the carnivorous Utahraptor lived. But before paleontologists can figure that out, State Paleontologist James Kirkland says they are going to have to find a place where they can start chipping away at the block.

The partially-feathered, polar bear-sized dinosaur lived during the Cretaceous, around 125 million years ago. Kirkland discovered the first specimen of Utahraptor in 1990. Then, in 2001, Kirkland said a geology student hiking around the Cedar Mountain Formation made the critical discovery that lead to the excavation of the nine-ton block.

DWR: Booming Bear Population Means More Hunting In 2015

Jan 14, 2015
Black bear munching on dandelions.

Utah wildlife officials said increased human-bear conflicts in the state mean changes to the bear hunt this year.

According to Division of Wildlife Resources Disease Coordinator Leslie McFarlane, black bears in Utah are thriving. She said booming bear populations lead to increased human-bear contact and conflict in some areas.

Canadian Court Rules In LDS Name Dispute

Jan 14, 2015

British Columbia’s highest court is barring a polygamist sect from using the name of the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The province’s Supreme Court ruled Monday that Winston Blackmore’s fundamentalist sect cannot use the same title as that of the mainstream Mormon church.

Eden Engen is one of the media representatives for the Utah-based LDS Church in British Columbia. Blackmore is currently focusing on other legal battles and has agreed to comply with the court’s order, he said.

Prescription medication

Legislation giving terminally-ill patients the right to try experimental drugs has been passed in five states this year, including Arizona and Colorado.

Riding this wave, Republican Rep. Gage Froerer from Huntsville proposed a bill Tuesday that would allow Utah doctors to obtain and administer experimental drugs to treat patients with terminal illnesses. 

The movement has been pushed nationally by those who say the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's approval process takes too long.


On Monday, Iron County prosecutors dropped charges against four animal activists with the Farm Animal Rights Movement for violating the state’s “ag-gag” law.

While the activists will not be charged under the ag-gag law, not everyone is convinced of the county’s change of heart. The law protects large corporations from scrutiny, said Jesse Fruhwirth, a writer for the Salt Lake-based City Weekly.

“I think that [the] ag-gag law is an attempt to buttress and support corporate power even when it’s appalling,” he said.

The California woman known as the "Bombshell Bandit" has pleaded guilty to bank robbery charges in California, Arizona and Utah.

Sandeep Kaur, 24, of Riverside, California earned her nickname by threatening to set off bombs during a string of bank robberies. Court documents show Kaur pleaded guilty Monday to four charges connected to robberies in Valencia and San Diego, California; Lake Havasu City, Arizona; and St. George, Utah.

Aerial view of Golden Toaster.
Dennis Hinkamp

Citizens old and young are mourning the loss of the famed “Golden Toaster,” an iconic Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints chapel in Logan. The toaster-shaped, golden-roofed building, which sat on the corner of 400 North and 1200 East, has been a local landmark since 1961.

State environmental officials are proposing a seasonal wood burning ban in seven northern Utah counties:  Box Elder, Cache, Davis, Salt Lake, Utah, Tooele, and Weber. The ban could have an effect on winter air quality in our communities, so we want to know how you think the ban would affect you and if you support it.

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Oil Sands Protesters Sentenced To Community Service

Jan 9, 2015
Hands holding tar sands.

Twenty-five protesters arrested last summer for disrupting operations at an oil sands operation in eastern Utah have been sentenced.

A Uintah County judge accepted no-contest pleas from the 25 dissenters, two of whom attended the hearing in Vernal on Thursday. The other protesters entered their pleas through sworn documents filed with the court.

Morrill To Step Down As USU Head Coach

Jan 9, 2015

After 17 seasons and nearly 400 wins at the helm of the Utah State University’s men’s basketball program, Stew Morrill will retire as head coach of the Aggies. Morrill made the official announcement during an emotional press conference on Friday. The coach, beloved by many USU alumni and fans, will stay on until the end of the season.

With speculation about the timing of the announcement, Morrill made it clear that the decision was his alone. His tenure as head coach as USU, which spanned nearly two decades, has been a great experience, he said.

Bull elk in snow.

Wildlife-watching is a popular summer activity in Utah, and the state’s variance in landscape and climate give Utahns who want to catch a glimpse of a moose or hawk many opportunities. But what about during winter? Though the state is less accessible during colder months, there are some Utahns who say the winter provides advantages for animal-watchers.

Public Officials Protest Final Prison Relocation Sites

Jan 8, 2015
Logos of Tooele, Eagle Mountain and Salt Lake Cities
utah.gov, slcgov.com,

Last month, the state’s Prison Relocation Commission announced its final three choices for the proposed site change of the Utah State Prison.  Eagle Mountain, Tooele and Salt Lake elected officials and residents are now voicing opposition to the selection of their areas for consideration. 

Tooele Mayor Patrick Dunlavy said relocating to the area will stifle Tooele and Grantsville’s economic futures, taking away valuable land from planned future developments. He also said the city was not amply consulted before Tooele’s placement on the relocation list went public. 


This year’s flu has been hitting the nation especially hard, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has listed the virus’ hold on Utah as widespread. In Utah County alone there have been nine flu-related deaths.

To help counteract the illness, hospitals across the state have been turning to a Utah-developed technology that has drastically cut the time it takes doctors to learn whether at patient is sick with the flu, or not.

Utahns Bring Measles Home From Disneyland Vacation

Jan 7, 2015
Electron microscope image of measles virion

Two Utah County residents have tested positive for measles after returning from vacationing in California.

The two infected Utahns are linked to a larger outbreak that occurred at Disneyland between Dec. 15 and 20. 

Rebecca Ward, an epidemiologist with the Utah Department of Health, said measles is a major public health risk.


As the Republican-controlled Congress begins work in Washington D.C., a new poll shows the issues Utahns want legislators to focus on this session.

The poll, commissioned by UtahPolicy.com, found that federal debt is the top issue for people in Utah. UtahPolicy.com Managing Editor Bryan Schott said the result was anticipated.

UDOT Streamlines Maintenance With New App

Jan 7, 2015
UDOT maintenance workers

The Utah Department of Transportation publicly launched their new Click ‘n Fix app this week, giving the public an opportunity to report maintenance issues on state-controlled roadways from their smart devices. 

According to UDOT Communications Systems Administrator Becky Parker, the new app allows residents to report problems such as potholes to be repaired or problematic traffic lights.

 “We have over 6,000 miles of road and we only have 630 employees taking care of all those miles," Parker said. "So, we’re asking the public to help be our eyes and ears and help us report when there are maintenance needs and service requests; the app allows them to submit that information to us."

Logan Mayor Pushes For More Green Energy

Jan 7, 2015

On Tuesday, the Logan City Council met for the first time this year to hear Mayor Craig Petersen deliver his State of the City address. This year’s speech was the first under Petersen, who highlighted various city projects completed during 2014 and shared his aspirations for the coming year. Green energy production featured prominently in those aspirations.

Petersen announced that a deal was struck to use the excess heat from natural gas pipelines to generate electricity. Obtaining electricity this way will put that excess heat to good use, he said.