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KUNR Today: Nevada communities can apply for wildfire defense funds, More human remains at Lake Mead

Eleven firefighting students walk in a single-file line through sagebrush scrublands. They are wearing red helmets, yellow protective jackets, and large black backpacks. They each carry a shovel or a pickaxe.
Kayla McCarson
BLM Nevada
Wildland firefighters-in-training in Austin, NV forming a simulated fire line.

Read or listen to news headlines for Monday, August 8, 2022.

Nevada communities can apply for wildfire defense grants
By Shelby Herbert

The U.S. House approved a package of bills in late June to address the growing threat of fire and drought in the West. It includes grants to help communities in Nevada defend themselves against devastating wildfires. With anextraordinary drought underway, the National Interagency Fire Center predicts above normal wildfire potential in the Great Basin Area throughout the next month; however, $1 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding could help communities across the country plan for these disasters.

In Nevada, Wildfire Defense Grants will fund up to $250,000 to update community protection plans and conduct outreach, as well as up to $10 million for resilient infrastructure projects. The measure will also permanently increase wildland firefighter pay to a minimum of $20 per hour. U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada encourages local and tribal governments to apply in order to protect their communities.

More human remains discovered at Lake Mead east of Las Vegas 
By The Associated Press

Authorities say more human remains have been found at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area east of Las Vegas. It's the fourth time since May 1 that remains have been uncovered as the lake's shoreline retreats at the shrinking reservoir between Nevada and Arizona. National Park Service officials say rangers were called Saturday morning after skeletal remains were discovered at Swim Beach. Rangers and a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police dive team set up a perimeter to retrieve the remains.

Park Service officials say the Clark County Medical Examiner's Office will try to determine the time, cause and manner of death as investigators review missing persons records. Authorities have speculated that more remains may be discovered as the water level at Lake Mead continues to recede.

Tourists find safety after floods close Death Valley roads
By The Associated Press

Hundreds of hotel guests trapped by flash flooding at Death Valley National Park were able to drive out after crews cleared a path for them. But roads choked with rocks and mud or damaged by floodwaters remained closed. The National Park Service says its conducting aerial searches in remote areas for stranded vehicles, but had found none. No injuries are reported from the torrential rains Friday.

The park near the California-Nevada state line weathered 1.46 inches of rain. That's about 75% of what the area typically gets in a year. About 500 visitors had been stuck inside the park. Officials say park employees also stranded by the closed roads were continuing to shelter in place, except for emergencies.

U.S. senators discuss costs of climate change
By Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

U.S. senators talked last week about the costs of climate change, and costs of new oil and gas regulations. Part of the hearing focused on how climate change will increase costs for local communities and governments. That includes costs for washed out roads, water pollution from algae, and running out of water entirely.

Shalini Vajjhala heads Re:Focus Partners, a firm that helps develop climate resilience projects. She says local communities need federal pathways to build infrastructure that can withstand climate change.

“No single individual family or region is concerned with the total economic costs of climate change. Everyone is concerned with their own physical and financial security,” said Vajjhala.

Others talked about a proposal to make oil and gas companies report more carbon emissions from things like vehicles that use their fuel. The industry argues that’d be expensive, and could inflate energy costs even more while reducing new oil and gas production.

Tribe: California wildfire near Oregon causes fish deaths
By The Associated Press 

The Karuk Tribe says a massive wildfire burning in a remote area just south of Oregon appears to have caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Klamath River fish. Tribal fisheries biologists believe a flash flood caused by heavy rains over the burn area caused a massive debris flow that entered the river and sent oxygen levels plummeting to zero.

The Karuk are working with the Yurok, another Northern California tribe, and state and federal agencies to fully understand what happened. They say the damage is likely limited to 10 or 20 miles of river.