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Over 16K comment on highway set for desert tortoise habitat

ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) — More than 16,000 public comments have been submitted for a proposal on whether to allow a highway to be built through a protected Mojave desert tortoise habitat in southern Utah. The four-lane road has drawn criticism from conservationists. The Spectrum newspaper reported the road would pass through the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area. Bureau of Land Management officials opened the public comment period in December and say they will now go through all of the comments before releasing a draft environmental impact statement. Details on the nature of the comments were not disclosed.


University of Utah hires new police chief to oversee campus

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The University of Utah has hired a new police chief to run the university's Department of Public Safety. KSL-TV reports Rodney Chatman was named chief of police Thursday and is expected to begin his position in Salt Lake City Feb. 17. University officials say Chatman currently runs the campus police department at the University of Dayton in Ohio. Chatman succeeds former chief Dale Brophy, who retired in October after serving in the role since 2015. The university has faced criticism for the state of student safety after the October 2018 death of student Lauren McCluskey, who was shot on campus.


Utah mother charged with fatal stabbing of 4-year-old girl

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah woman has been charged with the stabbing death of her 4-year-old daughter in their home. The Salt Lake Tribune reported prosecutors charged 29-year-old Nicole Lester with one count of aggravated murder Wednesday. West Valley City Police say officers responded to a 911 call after Lester went to a neighbor's house and said she had killed her daughter Dec. 31. Officers found the child's body in the basement of Lester's house. A police probable cause statement says the child had been stabbed at least 30 times. A 6-year-old boy was discovered sleeping and unharmed in a bedroom.


Teen grateful to be alive after 30 hours in Utah mountains

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A California teenager who survived nearly 30 hours alone in the snowy Utah mountains says he kept himself awake with phone alarms, built a snow cave for shelter and held a special beaded bracelet to keep his hopes up. Seventeen-year-old Nicolas Stacy-Alcantara of Fresno says he decided to go for a day-long hike in relatively mild weather last week while visiting an ex-girlfriend. Snow and dropping temperatures forced him to stop and spend the night outdoors. The high school senior managed to find other hikers the next day who called for help with a satellite phone. He was treated at a hospital for frostbite but isn't expected to need any amputation.


As wildfires get worse, smoke spreads, stokes health worries

PARADISE, Calif. (AP) — Increasingly intense wildfires that have scorched forests from California to Australia are stoking worry about long-term health impacts from smoke exposure in affected cities and towns. In the Sierra Nevada foothills town of Paradise, California, where a fire in 2018 killed 85 people and destroyed 14,000 homes, researchers are tracking respiratory problems suffered by survivors and people in downwind communities. The work has far-reaching implications as climate change turns some regions of the globe drier and more fire-prone. Smoke from major wildfires can travel thousands of miles and affect millions of people.


Utah governor requests tuition freeze among budget proposals

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah's governor has released an annual budget proposal calling for a freeze on college and university tuition increases until a specific definition of higher education affordability can be established. The Salt Lake Tribune reports Republican Gov. Gary Herbert requested that the governing bodies of the state’s higher education and technical college networks be merged into a single oversight entity. Herbert also asked for $400 million in public and higher education spending. The $20 billion budget makes use of an estimated $682 million in surplus state revenue. The budget proposal is the final one for Herbert, who is not seeking reelection.

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