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KUNR Today: Nevada's COVID-19 Metrics Creep Back Up, Illegal Trails Near Reno Disrupting Wildlife

An image of a mountain biking trail in the forest
U.S. Forest Service-Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest
This illegal mountain biking trail can cause further erosion and disrupt wildlife.

Here are your local news headlines for the morning of June 23, 2021.

Nevada’s Test Positivity Rate Ticks Up And Vaccination Rate Decreases
By Lucia Starbuck

Nevada’s COVID-19 metrics are slowly ticking up. Nearly 4% of all COVID-19 tests performed in Nevada are coming back positive. Last week, that number was closer to 3.4%.

The state’s vaccination rate has also declined, with roughly 1,000 fewer people getting vaccinated daily compared to the previous week. More than 43% Nevadans 12 and older are fully vaccinated.

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccinations in Nevada, or view the stateand Washoe County COVID-19 dashboards.

Lucia Starbuck is a corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project.

Nevada Ranks #1 In Enrollment In Emergency Broadband Benefit Program Amid Pandemic
By Lucia Starbuck

A record number of Nevadans have enrolled in a program that helps households pay for internet access. Nevada has the highest rate of enrollment in the Emergency Broadband Benefit program, with more than 41,000 households enrolled.

The temporary federal program aims to provide discounts for internet service and devices, like a laptop or tablet, for families that are struggling to afford internet service during the pandemic. Governor Steve Sisolak recently toutedthe program’s success on Twitter, saying he was proud of the work it's doing to connect families to the services they need.

Households can qualify if they meet or fall below the federal poverty level, or if they already received support through programs such as SNAP, Medicaid, free and reduced-price school lunches, or if they’ve experienced substantial loss of income during the pandemic.

Nevada Counties Join Anti-Federal Government Sheriff’s Group
By The Associated Press

Rural Nevada residents are celebrating moves by two county commissions to join a constitutional sheriffs group that argues local law enforcement has the final say over how to interpret laws. The Elko Daily Free Press reported that crowds gathered last Sunday in Elko City Park. That's where the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association presented county commissioners with a plaque to honor their membership. The group believes county sheriffs have a duty to interpret and uphold the constitution that supersedes other elected officials up to the president. It is against federal gun laws and COVID restrictions and sees sheriffs as a final defense against government overreach.

Large Number Of Illegal Trails Disrupt Wildlife
By Lucia Starbuck

A large number of illegal trails being built on lands managed by Washoe County and the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest’s Carson Ranger District are causing disruptions to wildlife.

The Forest Service saysthe trails can lead to soil erosion, impact water quality, and destroy wildlife habitats and plants. They also cause safety concerns. Restorations can cost thousands of dollars and years to complete.

Washoe County and the Forest Service stressed that there are specific processes for adding new trails, and anyone found guilty for causing damage by being on, or building, an undesignated trail could face a $5,000 fine and/or six months in jail.

Could Orphan Gas Wells And Abandoned Mines Get Cleaned Up?
By Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

Two new bills were introduced in Congress Tuesday to address orphan gas wells that dot land across the country.

Colorado Senator Michael Bennet sponsored two similar bills last year. The goal is to clean up thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells that threaten the health of people and the environment — and to ensure oil and gas companies are paying their share. This time, his bills have high level support. President Biden is proposing billions to plug orphan gas wells and clean up abandoned mines in the American Jobs Plan.

Aaron Weiss is with the Center for Western Priorities. He said the bills would be a milestone achievement.

"In terms of moving America forward, fixing an oil and gas leasing system that has not been significantly changed in 100 years," Weiss said.

Other similar bills are making their way through Congress, but Weiss said the ones introduced by Bennet are more comprehensive.

Winnemucca To Hold First LGBTQ+ Pride Festival And Parade
By KUNR Staff

The LGBTQ+ community in Winnemucca will hold its first-ever Pride event next month on July 16-17. The Nevada Independent reportsthe event will feature a parade and festival with vendors from across Northern Nevada.

The proceeds from the privately organized event will go to Humboldt Connection, a local suicide prevention organization.

Lucia Starbuck is an award-winning political journalist and the host of KUNR’s monthly show Purple Politics Nevada. She is passionate about reporting during election season, attending community events, and talking to people about the issues that matter most to them.
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