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KUNR Today: Nevada toad temporarily listed as endangered, Nevada’s snowpack is in bad shape

An image of the Dixie Valley Toad, with scaly skin that looks yellow with black and orange spotting throughout.
Patrick Donnelly
Center for Biological Diversity
Dixie Valley Toad

Read or listen to the morning news headlines for Tuesday, April 5, 2022.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces emergency listing of Dixie Valley toad as endangered species
By The Associated Press

In a rare emergency move, the U.S. government has temporarily declared a Nevada toad endangered because a geothermal power plant in the works about 100 miles east of Reno could result in its extinction.

The Fish and Wildlife Service announced Monday it is formally proposing a rule to list the Dixie Valley toad as an endangered species subject to 60 days of public comment. But it said the emergency listing goes into effect immediately. It will continue for eight months while more permanent protections are considered under the Endangered Species Act for the toad at the only place it is known to exist in the world.

Nevada’s low snowpack has broken some records
By Bert Johnson, Mountain West News Bureau

As the wet season comes to an end, scientists with the U.S. Department of Agriculture are warning that snowpacks across the Mountain West region are in bad shape. Federal officials say the dry winter the region just had broke records for the amount of snow that fell in the mountains.

Jeff Anderson is a hydrologist who measures snowpack in Northern Nevada.

“January, February, and March this year added up to the lowest precipitation for those three months that we’ve ever seen at SNOTEL sites going back to the early ‘80s,” Anderson explained.

SNOTEL – short for snow telemetry – is the automated system that tracks how much water is stored in hard-to-reach areas like the Eastern Sierra Nevada.

According to government data, parts of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Arizona had less than three-quarters of their historical median snow levels for this time of year.

As a result, Anderson expects the forest to dry out more quickly, raising the risk of large wildfires.

Nevadans rank as biggest tax procrastinators in U.S. 
By Kaleb Roedel

Nearly a third of Americans wait until the last minute to file their taxes, and Nevadans are the biggest tax procrastinators in the country, with Las Vegas ranking as the top city on that front, according to a new report by a company called IPX1031. The report shows that most people procrastinate because they don’t think they will get a refund.

Many people also wait until the last minute because they find filing taxes too complicated and stressful. The report also shows that half of Americans don’t know the tax deadline falls on a different day this year, which is April 18.

McNeill delivers her final State of Education for WCSD
By Nick Stewart

The Washoe County School District recently held its annual State of Education. Superintendent Kristen McNeill discussed issues such as staffing shortages and the mental health of students.

McNeill made an emotional speech, as this was her last time delivering the State of Education before retiring. She reflected on the challenges of the pandemic, including staffing issues that have been plaguing the district for months.

“This has posed a huge challenge to our staff, our students and our families, and they have had to adjust to constantly changing work duties and transportation schedules,” McNeill said.

Along with the challenge of staffing shortages, student mental health was another priority for McNeill. She said new grant funding will help combat this issue.

“This funding will continue to help our students who need more intensive support, such as therapy, evaluation, counseling and home visits to help address their needs,” McNeill said.

With students still recovering from the impacts of the pandemic, the Education Alliance of Washoe County has also raised $100,000 so far to support the health of students.

WCSD considering finalists for superintendent position
By Nick Stewart

The Washoe County School District is currently considering five finalists to replace Kristen McNeill as superintendent.

Many finalists are from across the country and have varying degrees of educational experience. The only local finalist is Jhone Ebert of Carson City, who currently serves as the superintendent for public instruction in Nevada.

The new WCSD superintendent will be announced later this month.

Vegas officer indicted on US charges in 3 casino robberies
By The Associated Press

A Las Vegas police officer has been arraigned on federal charges stemming from three casino robberies. Caleb Rogers’ federal public defenders did not immediately respond Monday to messages about his not-guilty pleas Friday to charges including robbery and brandishing a firearm in a crime of violence.

Rogers remains in federal custody with his trial scheduled May 23. He was arrested Feb. 27, after a botched robbery at the Rio hotel-casino sportsbook. He also is accused of robberies last November at the Red Rock Resort and January at the Aliante Casino in North Las Vegas. Prosecutors say the gun he used belonged to the police department.

Clark County air advisory signal of frequency of wildfires
By The Associated Press

Poor air quality warnings in the Las Vegas metro area are now more common as drought and wildfires in the West become more frequent. The Las Vegas Sun reports that the Clark County Department of Environment and Sustainability has issued a blanket advisory for the entire hot weather season-April 1st through Sept. 30.

Air quality advisories about smoky air used to be something that only occurred once in a while. A department spokesman says the agency decided to be more proactive because wildfires are “a new normal.” A lot of the impact has been from wildfires in northern Nevada, California and Arizona.

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