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KUNR Today: Wolf Pack announces new athletic director, DOI funding sagebrush conservation projects

A male greater sage-grouse stands among dry patches of rangeland grasses.
Tom Koerner
A male greater sage-grouse in Wyoming sagebrush habitat.

Read or listen to news headlines for Wednesday, June 22, 2022.

Wolf Pack announces new athletic director
By Shelby Herbert

The University of Nevada, Reno has announced Stephanie Rempe as its newest athletic director. Rempe’s career in athletic administration spans over 25 years. She has supervised sports programs at several institutions, including the University of Arizona, Texas A&M, and most recently, Louisiana State University.

During her tenure, LSU’s athletic department received national recognition for its diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement. Rempe earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in sports administration from the University of Arizona, where she played volleyball.

Rempe is set to replace Doug Knuth, who served as UNR’s athletic director since 2013 and whose contract expired last month.

Department of Interior funds $9M in western sagebrush conservation projects 
By Shelby Herbert

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced the allocation of $9 million from the 2022 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support sagebrush ecosystem conservation projects in eight Western states.

The projects receiving funding are intended to combat invasive grasses and wildfire, reduce encroaching conifers, safeguard water resources and promote economic sustainability. Spanning over 175 million acres, America’s sagebrush ecosystem is the largest contiguous habitat type in the United States.

The ecosystem contains biological, cultural and economic resources of national significance. It’s also home to more than 350 species — including pronghorn, elk, mule deer and sage-grouse. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, habitat degradation is the leading threat to sagebrush ecosystems — particularly the destructive wildfires fueled by the encroachment of invasive plants.

Biden signs off on hefty pay raise for federal firefighters
By The Associated Press

President Joe Biden has signed off on giving federal wildland firefighters a hefty raise for the next two fiscal years. The move announced Tuesday affects more than 16,000 firefighters and comes as much of the West braces for a difficult wildfire season.

Pay raises for the federal firefighters had been included in last year’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill, but they had been held up as administration officials studied recruitment and retention data to decide where to deliver them. Agencies are authorized to increase the base salary of federal wildland firefighters by $20,000 per year or 50% of their current base salary, whichever is lower.

US Senate race promises to be fight for nonpartisan voters
By The Associated Press

Nevada’s U.S. Senate race between Democratic incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto and Republican challenger Adam Laxalt is shaping up as one of the country’s most competitive. The outcome in November could sway the balance of power in the Senate.

Experts say the race will hinge on the candidates’ respective ties to President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. Laxalt led failed court challenges to overturn Nevada’s 2020 election results based on false fraud claims. Cortez Masto has often distanced herself from her party, and it’s not yet known if she’ll seek Biden’s help.

Democratic voters slightly outnumber Republicans in Nevada, but the state’s more than half a million nonpartisan voters could swing the outcome either way.

Reno High grad, WCSD settles lawsuit on alleged unreasonable searches
By Jose Davila IV

A Reno High graduate and the Washoe County School District have agreed to settle and dismiss a federal lawsuit alleging the district subjected the student to unreasonable searches.

Lucas Gorelick and his family filed the lawsuit last month alleging that administrators and other students had bullied Gorelick with anonymous tips reported through SafeVoice – the state hotline for school threats. According to theAssociated Press, Gorelick said that his backpack and pickup truck were searched for guns five times in two weeks after hoax calls were placed. Gorelick said he’s been bullied before for his Jewish heritage.

In the joint press release, the Gorelick family recognized that district administrators acted in good faith in responding to the tips. The district also recognized that Gorelick was never a threat. Moving forward, the district will work with law enforcement, SafeVoice and the Nevada Department of Education to identify possible misuse of the hotline.

Jose Davila IV is a corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project.

Walker River Paiute Tribe chairman appointed to the DOI’s Tribal Advisory Committee  
By Shelby Herbert

Amber Torres, who is chairman of the Walker River Paiute Tribe, will join the Department of the Interior’s Tribal Advisory Committee. Torres is a tribal citizen of the Paiute Tribe in Schurz, Nev. She has served on the Walker River Tribal Council since 2010 and held the role of tribal chairman since 2016.

She currently represents Nevada tribes through her service on the National Indian Health Board, Tribal Leaders Diabetes Committee and the Native Farm Bill Coalition.

The Interior’s Tribal Advisory Committee is composed of representatives from each of the 12 Bureau of Indian Affairs regions. It was formed with the intent to ensure that tribal leaders will have a direct line of communication with department officials regarding funding and programs that affect Native American communities.

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