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KUNR Today: Caldor Fire Still Posing Threat, WCSD Could Censure Board Trustee

An image of a solitary firefighter holding a chainsaw, looking up at giant trees in front of her.
Courtesy Joe Bradshaw
Bureau of Land Management
The Aravipa Hotshots work on the Caldor Fire near South Lake Tahoe.

Here are the local news headlines for the morning of Friday, Sept. 24, 2021.

Caldor Fire Still Burning, Posing Threats
By Noah Glick

Fire officials are warning residents that the Caldor Fire is still a threat, as the blaze remains active, despite being more than three-quarters contained.

Steep, rocky terrain has made it difficult for firefighters to reach certain areas of the blaze, which are still burning with no containment lines. That includes areas on the eastern portions of the fire area, such as Convict Meadow and Lake Margaret near Kirkwood.

The continued activity has also led South Lake Tahoe officials to postpone Saturday's Welcome Back Tahoe, Honoring Our Heroes Community Event.

Two Republican Candidates For Nevada Governor Receive Law Enforcement Endorsements
By Noah Glick

After Dean Heller announced his run for Nevada governor, law enforcement officials are weighing in on their preference for the Republican nomination.

Heller snagged the endorsement of the Nevada Police Union Thursday. The union said in a statement that current governor Steve Sisolak has chastised and demonized Nevada police officers, while Heller is against the "defund the police" movement.

Also this week, Douglas County Sheriff Dan Coverley endorsed current Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo for the top state job. Coverley made national headlines last summer when he told the Douglas County Library to "not feel the need to call 911 for help," because of their support of the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Washoe County School Board To Consider Reprimanding Trustee Church
By Paul Boger

The Washoe County School Board will consider whether to publicly reprimand Trustee Jeff Church for alleged policy violations at its next meeting.

According to the agenda, the board will spend a portion of next Tuesday's meeting discussing Church's alleged misconduct and questions about his character and professional competence.

Church was elected to the board last year and took office in early January. Since then, the self-described conservative watchdog has acted as an outspoken critic of district policies and its leadership. Church has also voiced strong opposition to mask mandates, going as far as to say they don't work to prevent the spread of COVID-19, contrary to the advice of a vast majority of medical providers.

District officials said they've received multiple complaints about Trustee Church and his actions related to the board's policies and protocols. The board could vote to censure Church, but it remains unclear if the board will take further actions.

More Northeast Nevada Schools Mandate Masks Due To COVID-19
By The Associated Press

The largest school district in northeast Nevada is requiring students to wear face coverings at most of its campuses, now that they are dealing with outbreaks of COVID-19. The Elko Daily Free Press reported Thursday that three elementary schools in Elko and one in Spring Creek were the latest to report an increase in cases and activate mask requirements. Schools reopened about two weeks ago, and the Elko County School District says in-person learning remains the top priority. It asks community support for mandated mitigation efforts. County lawmakers were applauded in August when they voted not to comply with a mask mandate Gov. Steve Sisolak re-imposed to stem the spread of the delta coronavirus variant.

As Drought Continues, Toxic Algae Blooms More Likely
By Bert Johnson, Mountain West News Bureau

The runaway growth of algae can choke lakes with green slime, and it can poison the water, threatening people and their pets. Experts say increasing drought in the West is making these algal blooms more likely.

Algae like to grow in warm, still, nutrient-rich water, so Sudeep Chandra with the Global Water Center at the University of Nevada, Reno predicts algal blooms will get more common thanks to climate change.

"We’re seeing excessive algal growth in Lake Tahoe from time to time, but we’re also seeing it back east in the eastern Great Basin at the Great Salt Lake," Chandra said.

In Reno, city officials have to issue more public health advisories for algal blooms during drought years. That’s because cyanobacteria - also known as blue-green algae - can release deadly toxins when less water is flowing.

Chandra said cyanobacteria don’t always produce toxins, although scientists don’t know why yet. They also play a critical role in ecosystems, where algae form the base of the food chain. In the meantime, he said it’s better to be cautious around your local lake during an algal bloom. As temperatures go down, that green slime will start to go away.

Great Basin Institute Receives Grant For Trail Building School
By Paul Boger

The U.S. Economic Development Agency has granted Great Basin Institute $160,000 to establish a first-in-the-country recreational trail building school. The money will fund feasibility studies, economic analyses, and other preliminary work ahead of opening the school in Ely.

According to a press release, the school is a joint venture between GBI and the Nevada Division of Outdoor Recreation, among others, to cement the state's place as a leader in the growing outdoor recreation sector.

State data shows outdoor recreation contributes more than $5 billion to Nevada's economy annually.

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