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KUNR Today: BLM reviewing sage grouse plan again, study finds fracking leads to premature deaths

An image of a large fracking operation
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Read or listen to the morning news headlines for Monday, Jan. 31, 2022.

Nevada to reapply for federal food assistance for K-12 students
By KUNR Staff

Nevada officials will reapply for a federal food assistance program called the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer. Nevada officials plan to use funds from July to October of this year, if approved, according to the Nevada Current.

K-12 students will have access to these benefits if they are receiving help under other federal programs, including SNAP and the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. A card will be issued under the student's name, but may receive fewer funds if they are absent from school for more than five days.

Exceptions will be made for students who miss classes due to COVID-19-related reasons.

The Nevada Current further reported the program originally distributed $490 million to over 300,000 students across the state from October to December of 2021.

Study: Fracking leads to premature deaths
By Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

In a new landmark study, researchers at Harvard found older people living near fracking sites in our region and beyond face a greater risk of premature death.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves drilling into the ground to extract natural gas or oil. The practice is controversial both for its potential effects on public health and the environment. Researchers have spent time in communities to study the health issues of residents living near fracking sites, but this study took a broader approach, analyzing the health records of 15 million people on Medicare living in areas near fracking activity.

The study found that they were at greater risk of dying compared to those living far away from these sites.

"I do think that we need to, especially for the vulnerable population, to really regulate whether or not a new fracking sites is permitted to open," said Francesca Dominici, co-author of the study.

Researchers accounted for other factors that could also affect death rates too, like socioeconomic status, body mass index, and a person’s race and gender.

California museum returns massacre remains to Wiyot Tribe
By The Associated Press

The remains of 20 Native Americans massacred in Northern California in 1860 have been returned to their tribe. Officials announced this week that the skeletal remains and artifacts found in the graves were returned last fall to the Wiyot Tribe that lives in the Eureka area.

Dozens of children, women and elderly were slain in what's known as the Indian Island Massacre. The graves of some were discovered in 1953 and the skeletons were taken to the Hearst Museum of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. A tribal officer says the remains will be reunited with their families.

BLM reviewing sage grouse plan, again
By Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau

The Bureau of Land Management is once again reviewing land use as it’s related to the sage grouse. Back in 2015, a bunch of stakeholders created a land use plan to protect sage grouse. For many Western states, that plan changed in 2019, favoring more industry and development, but a federal judge in Idaho blocked that move.

Now, the BLM is looking at its land use plans again, reviewing new sage grouse science, and looking at growing threats like wildfire. Brian Brooks, with the nonprofit Idaho Wildlife Federation, said the grouse’s populations are still shrinking, and we need larger changes to avoid an endangered species listing, which comes with more regulations.

“We really can’t just be rearranging chairs on the Titanic here to do little tweaks here and there to stop a sinking ship. We really need to look at what is causing it to sink,” Brooks said.

That includes invasive species and fire. The public can comment on the plan, too, until February 8th, on the BLM’s national NEPA register.

Nevada ranks in top tier for HRC LGBTQ+ report
By Andrew Méndez

Nevada ranked in the highest tier for an annual report auditing LGBTQ+ rights. The Human Rights Campaign recently released its annual equality index for both states and cities.

Nevada is among 21 states and Washington D.C to rank in the highest category, which is referred to as “Working towards innovative equality.” The HRC says these states have broad protection for LGBTQ+ individuals. Since 2017, Nevada has ranked in this tier.

While Nevada as a whole ranked high for equitable protections, most Northern Nevada cities fell short. Reno was the only Northern Nevada city to receive a perfect score of 100, while Carson City and Sparks ranked last with just 46 points.

National Endowment for the Arts awards $250,000 to Northern Nevada arts organization
By Andrew Méndez

Grants funded by the American Rescue Plan will go to serving three Northern Nevada arts-based organizations.

The Western Folklife Center in Elko, the Churchill Arts Council in Fallon and the Reno Chamber Orchestra will receive approximately $250,000, distributed amongst the three. The funding is intended to help mitigate financial impacts the pandemic has had.

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