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Brian Maffly

Environment reporter, Health, education and environment

801-257-8713, bmaffly@sltrib.com


  • (Rick Egan  |  Tribune file photo)   Wild horses, run free on BLM land northwest of Cedar City in 2014. Judge rejects Utah ranchers’ plea to evict wild horses
    A federal judge on Tuesday tossed a lawsuit brought by Utah ranchers demanding the Bureau of Land Management remove “excess” wild horses from several ...
    Updated Jul 13 2017 11:28 am   |     |   Share

  • Courtesy | Max Powers In what now appears to be a hoax, a man claiming to be a Utah visitor emailed said he had caught the alligator in Utah Lake. Officials with the Utah Deparment of Wildlife say the report was in all likelihood bogus, but they are continuing to investigate. Utah wildlife officials investigate report of gator in Utah Lake
    Editor’s note • State officials have since determined that this claim is likely a hoax. The Tribune has published a second story detailing that invest...
    Updated Jul 13 2017 06:09 pm   |     |   Share

  • (Brian Maffly  |  Tribune file photo)   The Price River Terminal in Wellington trans-loads oil from trucks to rail cars, opening a new path for Uinta Basin crude to reach out-of-state markets. Officials in a coalition of seven eastern Utah counties are hoping to link such facilities with oil- and gas producing sites using millions of dollars in federal mineral royalties. Is seven-county coalition squandering money earmarked for rural Utah?
    Several mineral-rich eastern Utah counties banded together a few years ago to build costly commodity-moving projects needed by extractive industries t...
    Updated Jul 09 2017 08:00 am   |     |   Share

  • (Scott Sommerdorf   |  The Salt Lake Tribune)     83 year-old Bobby Hirano who lived in the Topaz Internment Camp as a young boy looks through exhibits at the grand opening of the Topaz Museum in Delta on Saturday. Topaz Museum brings to life trials Japanese-Americans faced in Utah internment camp
    Delta • For Bobby, Daniel and Carol Hirano, the hot, bouncy bus ride through Delta’s agricultural sprawl to the Topaz camp was a bit of a homecoming. ...
    Updated Jul 10 2017 09:53 am   |     |   Share

  • (Kim Raff | Tribune file photo)   An oil tanker uses US-40 to travel from oil fields in the Uintah Basin to the refineries in North Salt Lake. In hopes of spurring new U.S. energy development, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Thursday ordered a streamlining of approvals for oil and gas drilling applications and quarterly sales of leasing permits on federal lands. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke orders faster approval of oil and gas drilling on federal lands
    Pointing to a large backlog of pending oil and gas drilling applications, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced aggressive reforms on Thursday to st...
    Updated Jul 06 2017 11:38 pm   |     |   Share

  • (Trent Nelson  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)   The Bureau of Land Management is proposing to lease Racapture Canyon,  east of Blanding, for oil and gas development, along with other culturally important spots in Utah’s San Juan County. BLM considers offering Utah’s Recapture Canyon — rich in American Indian artifacts — for oil and gas leasing
    Recapture Canyon is so rich in fragile Native American prehistory that it is closed to motorized use, yet the Bureau of Land Management is now proposi...
    Updated Jul 05 2017 03:02 pm   |     |   Share

  • (Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune)     Lisbeth Louderback, curator of archaeology at the Natural History Museum of Utah, talks about the recent discovery that ancient peoples may have cultivated potatoes 11,000 years ago during a presentation on Friday, June 30, 2017. It could be an example of the first plant ever domesticated in what is now the western United States. Did potato cultivation begin in Utah’s Escalante Valley 11,000 years ago?
    Delane Griffin’s yard around his Escalante home is filled with a wild potato that his late wife, Leah, transplanted from nearby sites. For decades, so...
    Updated Jul 03 2017 10:40 pm   |     |   Share

  • FILE - In this July 1, 2010 photo, one of five eight-week-old Mexican Gray wolf pups gets a quick check-up at the Endangered Wolf Center  in Eureka, Mo.  The effort to return the wolves to the wild in New Mexico and Arizona has been hampered by illegal shootings, court battles, complaints from ranchers who have lost livestock and pets to the wolves, and concerns by environmentalists over the way the reintroduction program has been managed.   In 2010, there were six wolf deaths. All but one involved suspicious circumstances. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam) Conservationists blast long-awaited recovery plan for Mexican wolves, which excludes Utah, Colorado from lobos’ range
    As Utah officials had hoped, a draft federal plan for the recovery of the endangered Mexican gray wolf does not include Utah or Colorado in the area e...
    Updated Jun 29 2017 09:13 pm   |     |   Share

  • After giving up on converting trash to electricity, Sandy plans to dump garbage in a new landfill
    Sandy has formally abandoned its controversial four-year partnership with a technology startup that boldly promised to turn the Utah city’s trash into...
    Updated Jun 29 2017 04:04 am   |     |   Share

  • BLM acquires land to bolster popular biking area near Zion National Park
    The Bureau of Land Management has finalized a deal to transfer 231 acres into federal ownership at Gooseberry Mesa, a popular mountain biking area a f...
    Updated Jun 27 2017 09:34 pm   |     |   Share

  • (Erin Alberty  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)    Wildflowers greet hikers near the wash to the Moonshine Tanks on May 1, 2016, in the San Rafael Swell. Trump’s BLM plans oil and gas leasing near Dino monument and San Rafael Swell
    In another indication of how President Donald Trump’s “America First” energy strategy is playing out in Utah, the federal government has identified pa...
    Updated Jun 28 2017 12:06 pm   |     |   Share

  • (Chris Detrick  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)   An unburned structure near the wildfire burning north of the southern Utah ski town of Brian Head Tuesday, June 20, 2017. The Brian Head Fire — which forced the evacuation of about 750 residents and visitors on Saturday — was started by someone using a weed torch in dry conditions, Gov. Gary Herbert tweeted Tuesday, ahead of a 1 p.m. news conference. Noel, other S. Utah politicians blame Brian Head Fire on ‘tree-huggers,’ beetles, but eco-groups say he’s off-base
    Southern Utah politicians on Monday blamed the Brian Head Fire’s fast pace and destructiveness on environmentalists who, they said, for decades have t...
    Updated Jun 27 2017 11:11 am   |     |   Share

  • (Tribune file photo)   The Mountain Meadows Massacre is seen in this 2004 file photo. Child victim’s skull set for return to Utah’s Mountain Meadows, but not everyone agrees that’s the proper resting place
    U.S. soldiers investigating the 1857 massacre at Mountain Meadows found the remains of 120 westbound pioneers scattered about the killing fields north...
    Updated Jun 25 2017 08:49 am   |     |   Share

  • (Rick Egan  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)   Mountain pine beetles kill by burrowing inside the bark of a tree thereby cutting off the water and nutrient flow. Beetle-killed trees are complicating firefighting efforts in southern Utah. Do beetle-killed trees make wildfires worse? Brian Head blaze may provide surprising answers
    The wildfire threatening a southern Utah resort town this week raced through a forest that lost hundreds of thousands of spruce trees in a devastating...
    Updated Jun 23 2017 11:31 pm   |     |   Share

  • (Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune)   In response to Secretary Zinke’s Interim Report recommending the shrinking of the Bears Ears National Monument, James Adakai, Oljato Chapter President and BEITC Commissioner joins Native American community leaders who traveled to Salt Lake City to explain why Native Americans in San Juan County are fighting to preserve Bears Ears National Monument during a panel discussion at the University of Utah, Thursday, June 22, 2017. ‘This is our homeland’: Panelists say they’ll do whatever it takes to protect Bears Ears
    Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk knew getting into politics would require toughness, but nothing prepared the Ute Mountain Ute Council member for the treatment...
    Updated Jun 22 2017 11:40 pm   |     |   Share

  • (Al Hartmann  |  Tribune file photo)    Hikers cross bridge across Virgin River near the Grotto in Zion National Park on May 15, 2009. Zion National Park is short on money and staff — so a nonprofit hopes to supply $3 million
    Between 200 to 300 natural springs are scattered and hidden around Zion Canyon, sustaining a lush environment and wildlife, including the Zion snail, ...
    Updated Jun 28 2017 09:41 am   |     |   Share

  • |  Courtesy of Great Old Broads for Wilderness  Rose Chilcoat. New felony charges added in gate-closing case against Utah activist
    A prominent environmental activist and her husband appeared Monday in court to answer new felony charges arising from a confrontation with two San Jua...
    Updated Jun 22 2017 09:46 am   |     |   Share

  • Josh Ewing  |  Friends of Cedar Mesa  Crews drill an oil well on Cedar Mesa in 2014 on public land that later became part of Bears Ears National Monument. The well turned up dry and the federal  lease was retired. But a review of BLM documents indicate industry has ’nominated’ numerous  parcels in the area around Bears Ears Buttes, pictured in the distance, for oil and gas development despite claims by Utah officials that Cedar Mesa is under no threat of energy development. Oil and gas industry will pounce if Bears Ears shrinks
    In making their case for rescinding Bears Ears National Monument, Utah officials have downplayed the potential for oil and gas development on the land...
    Updated Jun 19 2017 11:39 am   |     |   Share

  • (Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)   Torrey’s Main Street.  State Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, has labeled town residents ’hypocrites’ over their request for state funds to improve Torrey’s water system, because some of them differ with Noel’s stances on oil and gas drilling. Utah trust lands agency nixes gravel pit lease in favor of selling scenic parcel near Capitol Reef
    The dust may be settling over Teasdale’s gravel pit controversy, thanks to a decision by Utah trust lands officials to cancel a mineral lease on the 1...
    Updated Jun 19 2017 09:38 am   |     |   Share

  • (Trent Nelson  |  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. As seen on Friday June 9, 2017. Zinke recommends diminishing size of Bears Ears but says area ‘merits some degree of protection’
    Washington • In his initial report on Bears Ears National Monument, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is urging the White House to reduce its size to focu...
    Updated Jun 17 2017 06:28 pm   |     |   Share

  • (Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune)   Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke tours the Butler Wash Indian ruins within Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah. Interior Secretary Zinke is touring the monument, including Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument this week as part of a review order by President Trump. Utah claims Bears Ears monument will kill uranium industry
    The Obama administration pointedly excluded the White Canyon uranium district from the Bears Ears National Monument, disappointing the tribes that pro...
    Updated Jun 09 2017 05:04 pm   |     |   Share

  • (Francisco Kjolseth  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)    Greater sage grouse during mating season on a lek near Bear Lake March 25, 2015. Interior secretary orders review of sage grouse plan
    Saying he hopes to restore trust between federal land managers and Western communities, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Wednesday announced a 60-day ...
    Updated Jun 07 2017 11:09 pm   |     |   Share

  • |  Courtesy of  Natural Resources Conservation Service  Tibble Fork Dam after completion of 2017 rehabilitation. Improved Tibble Fork open for public use
    A year after a popular Utah watering hole was shut down to rebuild a dam, a new and enlarged Tibble Fork Reservoir was re-opened for public use Tuesda...
    Updated Jun 06 2017 09:35 pm   |     |   Share

  • (Al Hartmann  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)     Greg Sheehan, became director of the Division of Wildlife Resources in 2008. Here interviews employee Crystal Ross on Oct. 20, 2008. He was trying to visit all of his more than 500 employees in face-to-face meetings and had a huge folder with a page for each staffer that included a picture, jobs they have had at the agency and room for notes. Utah's top wildlife official named to U.S. post
    The U.S. Interior Department has named Utah’s top wildlife official as deputy director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, helping fill a leadership vac...
    Updated Jun 05 2017 10:46 pm   |     |   Share

  • State pledges hefty $112M toward plan to create specialty fertilizers on dry bed of Sevier Lake
    An ambitious proposal to build 124,000 acres of solar-evaporation ponds in Millard County to produce specialty fertilizers could get up to $112.5 mill...
    Updated Jun 03 2017 01:24 pm   |     |   Share

  • Courtesy of Luke Henry, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. BLM proposes oil and gas leases on two parcels along the Kolob Terrace Road overlooking North Creek just west of Zion National Park. These parcels would be only the public lands in Washington County leased for energy development. BLM yanks oil and gas leases proposed near Zion after complaints from residents
    After getting an earful from locals and state officials about possible drilling near Zion National Park, the Bureau of Land Management on Friday rever...
    Updated Jun 02 2017 11:39 pm   |     |   Share

  • President Donald Trump gestures while speaking about the U.S. role in the Paris climate change accord, Thursday, June 1, 2017, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) Trump’s withdrawal from Paris climate accord draws mixed Utah reaction
    President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from participation in the Paris climate accord, announced Thursday, drew a wide-ranging and mix...
    Updated Jun 01 2017 11:12 pm   |     |   Share

  • (Steve Griffin  |  The Salt Lake Tribune)    Rock climbers enjoy the warm temperatures as they climb the granite walls at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah  Monday, March 5, 2012. Deal with LDS Church secures Utah climbing spot
    It has been 56 years since Ted Wilson and Bob Stout put up Little Cottonwood Canyon’s first climbing route at Gate Buttress, an area what has evolved ...
    Updated Jun 03 2017 09:09 pm   |     |   Share

  • (Tribune file photo)   Utah’s Henry Mountains, among areas under review after a Wednesday settlement of a legal dispute over the Bureau of Land Management’s plans for motorized access through public lands. BLM travel plan suits resolved, but conflict persists
    Over objections lodged by several Utah counties, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday signed off on a settlement the Bureau of Land Manageme...
    Updated May 31 2017 10:56 pm   |     |   Share

  • Courtesy of Save Our Canyons Bonanza Flat near the Wasatch Crest’s Guardsman Pass would be preserved under a $38 million deal reached by Park City leaders with the 1,350-acre parcel’s owner. This land was to become a 260-unit luxury destination, but the city, Summit County and nine non-profit groups have joined forces to acquire the land for public enjoyment and habitat conservation. Businesses race to rescue Bonanza Flats
    With time running out on the $38 million deal to conserve Bonanza Flats, several Park City-based businesses are backing last-ditch fundraising efforts...
    Updated Jun 13 2017 07:09 pm   |     |   Share