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Brian Maffly

Environment reporter, Health, education and environment

801-257-8713, bmaffly@sltrib.com


  • (Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune)   The Bears Ears, seen on the horizon, and its surrounding areas in southeastern Utah, are subject to a possible National Monument designation by President Obama   under the Antiquities Act for protection. EcoFlight recently flew journalists, tribal people and activists over the northern portion of the proposed 1.9 million acre site in an effort to push for permanent protection from impacts caused by resource extraction and high-impact public use. Bears Ears comments weigh heavily in favor of monument
    Commenters on both sides of the Bears Ears National Monument debate say Utah’s Cedar Mesa and surrounding lands should be protected, yet many remarks ...
    Updated May 26 2017 11:43 pm   |     |   Share

  • Needles Outpost screen grab from video provided by the Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration. Utah conservationist buys Needles Outpost for $2.5 million at SITLA auction
    A Utah trust-lands parcel at the Needles entrance to Canyonlands National Park fetched a record $2.5 million Wednesday from a conservation buyer after...
    Updated May 25 2017 11:51 am   |     |   Share

  • (Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune)   The two buttes that make up the namesake for the Bears Ears National Monument reveal the vast landscape surrounding them as part of the 1.35 million acres in southeastern Utah protected by President Barack Obama on Dec. 28, 2016. Utah Republicans in Congress are advocating for Trump to jettison Utahís national monument designation. Presidents can’t undo national monuments, new study says
    As Utah political leaders continue predicting President Donald Trump will shrink or even erase the new Bears Ears National Monument, a soon-to-be publ...
    Updated May 25 2017 02:31 pm   |     |   Share

  • BLM guard station burns in Bears Ears
    The Bureau of Land Management is investigating a suspicious fire that recently damaged a remote guard station in Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument. ...
    Updated May 22 2017 05:46 pm   |     |   Share

  • (Steve Griffin  |  Tribune file photo)   Hikers climb a ladder made from a tree at the first falls of the Kanarraville Falls hike in Kanarraville  Wednesday July 6, 2016. Popular southern Utah hiking being trail 'loved to death,' town says
    Located just north of Zion National Park, Kanarra Creek Canyon has become one of Utah’s busiest hiking destinations, but the 2-mile trail to a slot ca...
    Updated May 22 2017 03:50 pm   |     |   Share

  • (Brian Maffly  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)    The confluence of Kane and Grand gulches. Some urge more public input as Bears Ears’ fate looms
    The 15-day window for public comment on Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument is closing fast, prompting calls on the Department of Interior to expand t...
    Updated May 17 2017 12:11 pm   |     |   Share

  • (Trent Nelson  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)   The Bureau of Land Management is finally releasing an environmental review of San Juan County’s application for a right-of-way through Recapture Canyon, inhabited by Anasazi more than 800 years ago. The BLM had closed the canyon, east of Blanding, to motorized use in 2007 after discovering an illegally constructed trail had damaged some of its archaeological sites. Thursday September 8, 2016. Utah appeals on Recapture Canyon access
    Blanding • Blanding • The state of Utah is appealing the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s latest decision regarding motorized access to San Juan C...
    Updated May 10 2017 11:16 pm   |     |   Share

  • (Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune)   Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke visits historic Dugout Ranch along Indian Creek, operated by Heidi Redd, at right, under a conservation easement with the Nature Conservancy. Secretary Zinke is continuing his four-day Utah tour on Tuesday, May 9, 2017, of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. After hearing from Utahns, Zinke confident he can resolve conflict over Bears Ears National Monument
    Indian Creek, San Juan County • After three days in Utah, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is more confident than ever that he can forge a resolution to ...
    Updated May 10 2017 11:01 am   |     |   Share

  • (Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune)   Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke snaps at pro monument activist Cassandra Begay after she directed pointed questions regarding his failure to meet with more Native Americans during his tour of Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah. Interior Secretary Zinke had just arrived at the Butler Wash Indian Ruins trail head within Bears Ears National Monument for a tour. Zinke flies over Bears Ears as critics urge him to ‘Make San Juan County Great Again’ and rescind monument
    Blanding • When Hank Stevens’ family hunted under Bears Ears Buttes, they always honored the deer whose life they had taken and the place that nurture...
    Updated May 23 2017 08:54 pm   |     |   Share

  • (Francisco Kjolseth  |  Tribune file photo)   Every step can reveal an interesting new find in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument where the geologic transformation of the planet seems to be more visible. Zinke kicks off monuments review this weekend. Up first: Utah’s Bears Ears and Staircase
    The Trump administration is launching its four-month review of 27 large national monuments designated since 1996 under the Antiquities Act, including ...
    Updated May 22 2017 03:45 pm   |     |   Share

  • (Al Hartmann  |   Tribune file photo)   Bears Ears formation rises above White Canyon along US Highway 95 near Natural Bridges National Monument in San Juan County.  The formation is at the heart of the newly designated  Bears Ears National Monument. Bears Ears is overkill, San Juan County leaders tell Zinke
    The San Juan County Commission had an hour of face time with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and his staff Tuesday morning, presenting the county’s case...
    Updated May 22 2017 03:13 pm   |     |   Share

  • Interior Secretary-designate, Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., is sworn in on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, prior to testifying at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Zinke, 55, a former Navy SEAL now in his second term in Congress, was an early supporter of President-elect Donald Trump and, like his prospective boss, has expressed skepticism about the urgency of climate change. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Zinke will recommend Bears Ears fate within 45 days
    Washington • Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke says he will recommend possible action to change the Bears Ears National Monument within 45 days...
    Updated Apr 25 2017 11:09 pm   |     |   Share

  • (Scott Sommerdorf   |  The Salt Lake Tribune)     U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell takes a photo of  ancient petroglyphs near Comb Ridge, outside Bluff, Saturday, July 16, 2016.  Jewell defends Bears Ears monument process
    On her journey home to Seattle from Washington, D.C., Sally Jewell spent a few weeks this spring in New Mexico, Utah and Nevada visiting some of the l...
    Updated Apr 26 2017 11:41 am   |     |   Share

  • Courtesy  |  Utah Geological Survey  Emery County water users fear Skyline Mine’s expansion into the Flat Canyon coal tract could impair their rights to Huntington Creek, which supplies homes, business, a power plan and farms. Water fight erupts over Skyline mine expansion
    The Wasatch Plateau is so perforated with tunnels and shafts that reservoirs are believed to leak into coal miners’ underground chambers, resulting in...
    Updated Apr 24 2017 11:18 pm   |     |   Share

  • (Brian Maffly  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)   University of Utah engineering students Brandon Quinton, Brian Naylor, Katherine Colburn, Quentin Allen and Jackson Barrett review maps while visiting the Mill B Trailhead at the S-Curves in Big Cottonwood Canyon. The students are part of a team that developed new proposals for managing traffic congestion and recreation facilities in the busy canyon. University of Utah students say charging toll the way to fix Big Cottonwood Canyon traffic problems
    Big Cottonwood Canyon • A few miles up the gorge, sandwiched between Mount Olympus and Twin Peaks, the highway makes two sweeping bends where the cany...
    Updated Apr 24 2017 08:27 am   |     |   Share

  • |  Courtesy Setting Utah’s Dixie forest on fire — in a controlled way
    Prescribed burning that has sparked controversy in past years got under underway again this week on southwestern Utah’s Paunsaugunt Plateau. Managers ...
    Updated Apr 20 2017 09:52 pm   |     |   Share

  • (Tribune file photo)    Utah trust-lands officials have authorized construction of a gravel pit just east of the Wayne County hamlet of Teasdale, but many nearby residents contend such a use is a poor fit.  Sixth District Court Judge George Harmond has invalidated a conditional-use permit for the pit, throwing into question  Wayne County’s authority to enforce zoning on the project. Project on state trust lands not subject to local zoning, court rules
    A state judge has invalidated a conditional-use permit Wayne County officials issued for a gravel pit on state trust lands on the edge of Teasdale, ra...
    Updated Apr 17 2017 11:44 pm   |     |   Share

  • Courtesy of Infinity Pharmaceuticals Cow cabbage grows in abundance on Utah’s Wasatch Plateau where an Ephraim company EcoPharm proposes harvesting to further cancer research. The native plant contains a compound with anti-cancer properties. In this 2008 courtesy photo, Steve Monsen, left, a contract worker for Infinity Pharmaceuticals, and David Mann, associate director of biological chemistry for the company, harvest the plant with a Forest Service worker in the Uintah-Wasatch-Cache National Forest in 2008. Wasatch Plateau meadows to be harvested for new cancer drugs
    Cow cabbage, which flourishes in mountain meadows of the U.S. Southwest, was once seen as a worthless invasive weed targeted for eradication by ranche...
    Updated Apr 17 2017 03:41 pm   |     |   Share

  • Activist, spouse criminally charged for closing a gate
    A well-known Four Corners-area environmental activist and her husband face criminal charges stemming from a confrontation with San Juan County rancher...
    Updated Apr 17 2017 01:35 pm   |     |   Share

  • Meet Moabosaurus, Utah’s latest dino discovery
    Moab already revels in superlatives associated with its geology, canyons, parks, trails, even its maddening crowds, but many scientists believe Utah’s...
    Updated Apr 13 2017 07:36 am   |     |   Share

  • (Brian Maffly  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)    Dan Robinson’s backyard the Stonegate subdivision west of Roosevelt has been destroyed in the homeowner’s failed effort to salvage his septic system. The stench and mess forced Robinson to move his family out while Duchesne County figures out a solution to this area’s drainage problems which have turned parts of this neighborhood into “an open sewer,” says Robinson, a Roosevelt dentist. The county could impose a moratorium on residential construction in its unincorporated Hancock Cove until this subdivided agricultural area can be sewered. Utah taxpayers to rescue Duchesne subdivision from septic nightmare
    Utah taxpayers and the city of Roosevelt will help a Duchesne County subdivision that has festered in its own sewage for the past few years, thanks to...
    Updated Apr 13 2017 12:50 pm   |     |   Share

  • (Chris Detrick  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)   Craig Chaya, background, and Eileen Hwang perform cataract surgery on Maria Salcedo, of Salt Lake City, at the Moran Eye Center Saturday, April 8, 2017.  John A. Moran Eye Center surgeons provided free, sight-restoring surgeries for 23 cataract patients as part of Operation Sight Day, a twice-yearly event assisting low-income, uninsured Utahns in need of care. Operation Sight Day leads 23 cataract patients back into the light
    Johnnie Mahoney, a Salt Lake City construction worker, first started noticing something goofy with his vision in August, when his eyes became irritate...
    Updated Apr 08 2017 10:10 pm   |     |   Share

  • (Steve Griffin  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)    Kelly McAdams walks across a beaver dam in his back yeard to remove a bucket that was caught on the top of the dam on Thursday, April 6, 2017.  Salt Lake County officials are pressuring McAdams and his neighbors to remove the beaver dams from Big Willow Creek where the stream flows across their properties. They insist the dams have been there for years and should remain because they are natural and provide wetland habitat, but officials say they pose a flood hazard. Leave it to beaver? No way, says Salt Lake County
    Draper • Big Willow Creek bends and meanders behind Kelly McAdams’ Draper home and her backyard steps down into an urban wildlife preserve. Thanks to...
    Updated Apr 08 2017 10:02 pm   |     |   Share

  • |  Tribune File photo  The pottery collection at Edge of the Cedars State Park comes from the surrounding area and is one of Utah’s most extensive. Fate of pottery collection is ‘a can of worms’ for Navajos
    Nearly 40 years ago, Utah’s Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum received its inaugural collection of artifacts as a loan from the Utah Navajo Develop...
    Updated Apr 03 2017 10:51 pm   |     |   Share

  • Watch a badger bury an entire cow carcass in Utah desert
    Wildlife biologist Evan Buechley, a University of Utah doctoral candidate, was baffled last year when he visited test sites in the West Desert where h...
    Updated Mar 31 2017 03:35 pm   |     |   Share

  • Ray Bloxham  |  Courtesy of Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance  Utah’s Coal Hollow strip mine near Alton hopes to expand operations, tapping federal coal near its current operations, which are running out of coal. On Wednesday, the Trump administration lifted a year-old moratorium that had delayed Alton Coal Co.’s lease application. As Utah mine now hopes to expand, groups pursue dueling lawsuits over the lifted coal-lease moratorium
    Environmental groups wasted no time challenging the legality of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s Wednesday order lifting a year-old moratorium on coal ...
    Updated Mar 31 2017 07:46 am   |     |   Share