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KUNR Today: Gov. Sisolak Signs Executive Order To Protect Sagebrush, COVID-19 Remains High In Nevada

A side profile of Sisolak and Newsom as they walk by and look at a home that’s been reduced to rubble by a wildfire. A hill behind them is covered with charred juniper trees.
Lucia Starbuck
KUNR Public Radio
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (second from front) and California Gov. Gavin Newsom toured a neighborhood in Gardnerville, Nev., that lost several homes to the Tamarack Fire on July 28, 2021.

Here are the local news headlines for the morning of Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021.

Fight Continues Against California Wildfires
By Noah Glick

The famous clarity that Lake Tahoe is known for isn’t so clear Wednesday, as hazardous levels of smoke and ash blanket the area, due to the nearby Caldor Fire. The blaze moved northeast Tuesday toward the basin and is now less than 20 miles west of the lake, according to The Associated Press.

Firefighters battling the Dixie Fire Tuesday focused on protecting the community of Taylorsville, southwest of Susanville in Indian Valley. Wind gusts helped clear smoke on the west side of the blaze, but those winds also helped spread flames from tree to tree.

California is experiencing a historic wildfire season, with the Dixie Fire now the largest single wildfire in state history, and second only to last year’s August Complex Fire.

So far this year, more than 37,000 California residents have been evacuateddue to wildfires.

Carson City School District Provides Guidelines For Canceling Class Due To Poor Air Quality
By Lucia Starbuck

While the Washoe County School District canceled school for two days in a row this week due to poor air quality, schools in Carson City are still open. The Carson City School District released its guidelinesfor canceling class.

The school district will cancel class if the Air Quality Index is measured at 400 or above. An Air Quality Index over 150 is considered “unhealthy.” The school district says the building management system has taken steps to upgrade air filtration systems.

On days where the air quality is deemed unhealthy, buses will close their windows, and outdoor activities, such as sports and recess, will be canceled or moved indoors.

If parents feel that conditions are unsafe, they may keep their child at home, and they will be able to make up the work, but the day will count as an absence.

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

Gov. Sisolak Signs Executive Order To Protect Nevada’s Sagebrush
By Lucia Starbuck

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak signed an executive order on Monday to address the impacts of climate change and wildfires on Nevada’s habitats and landscapes. The executive order will establish what’s called the Nevada Habitat Conservation Framework, and Nevada will collaborate with state agencies, tribal communities and conservation advocates.

The Nevada Department of Wildlife is charged with identifying threats and ways to rehabilitate the areas where sagebrush thrives. The state’s flower covers more than half of Nevada, supporting nearly 370 plants and animals. Wildfire, invasive species and agriculture conversion have destroyed roughly 50 percent of sagebrush habitats.

Sisolak’s executive order also calls for a plan to protect migratory corridors for mule deer, bighorn sheep and pronghorn. Plus it includes ways to minimize vehicle collisions with wildlife.

Outdoor recreation typically generates $12.5 billion in consumer spending annually and supports more than 87,000 jobs in Nevada.

Scientists Launch Effort To Collect Water Data In U.S. West
By The Associated Press

Federal scientists are launching an effort to better understand the hydrology in the U.S. West. The U.S. Department of Energy on Tuesday announced a new kind of climate observatory near the headwaters of the Colorado River. Scientists say data gathered from the equipment will help better predict rain and snowfall in the region and determine how much of it will flow through the river. The multimillion-dollar effort led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory begins next week. The Colorado River serves 40 million people in several states and Mexico. A recent shortage declaration means Arizona, Nevada and Mexico won’t get their full allocations of water next year.

COVID-19 Cases Continue To Be Reported In High Numbers In Nevada
By Lucia Starbuck

State officials are reporting an average of 950 daily cases and 12 deaths per day over the last two weeks, but hospitalizations have plateaued; there have been more than 1,100 people with COVID-19 in the hospital every day this month.

Slightly over half of Nevadans 12 and older are fully vaccinated.

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

Audit: California Agency Bungled COVID-19 Funds For Homeless
By The Associated Press

A report finds a California agency didn’t properly distribute federal funds meant to help homeless residents during the coronavirus pandemic. The state auditor’s office says Tuesday that the mismanagement at the California Department of Housing and Community Development was so prolonged that local organizations may lose the money because of missed deadlines. The department was in charge of distributing about $316 million to local groups that collaborate on homeless services and prevention under the so-called continuum of care. The department disagrees with the finding, but plans to implement the recommendations in the audit.

Noah Glick is a former content director and host at KUNR Public Radio.
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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