Week in review: March 3

Arizona’s solar fights, Nevada development and a jaguar spotting are among the stories grabbing HCN writers’ attention this week.


With so much news breaking these days, we don’t want readers to miss the stories that shape our Western economies, landscape and lives. So every Friday, we let you know what we’re paying attention to, from around the region and the country: the Western week in review. —Kate Schimel, Deputy Editor-Digital

The cat’s back

Source: Arizona Game and Fish Department
Brooke Warren/High Country News
Jaguars have maintained a tenuous toehold in the Southwest. Until this week, just two males have been spotted north of the border in recent years and the cats have little to no protection in the U.S. Now, a third male jaguar has been spotted on a Bureau of Land Management trail camera in the Dos Cabezas Mountains, in Arizona.

Red Rock build-out

Late last week, Clark County commissioners voted to allow a developer to move forward with plans for a master-planned community 5,000 houses strong. It’s the latest in an unusual battle over conservation that has seemed, at times, even friendly. Want to go way back? Read our 2003 story on the battle’s early rumbles

Smiling hopeful faces before the blow. Supporters gather and Save Red Rock President speaks to the news stations before the county meeting where commissioners vote 5-2 to allow a developer to withdraw his 2016 plan and move forward with his 2011 plan to build 5000 homes in Red Rock. The good news is, he can't build yet. That wasn't the final approval. He still has to come back for a zone change and we will be there. The bad news is, the county has approved the developer's plan twice now which includes an inferred zone change against the wishes of the people. Keep growing the petition! Donate for the legal fight on saveredrock.com! Hopefully #thirdtimesthecharm! #wewillbethere #saveredrock #keepredrockrural #werenotgoingaway #nevergiveup #peoplematter #outsidelasvegas #beyondvegas #redrockcanyon #mynevada #clarkcounty

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Solar settlement

After five years, Arizona Public Service and solar companies have finally reached an agreement that will allow rooftop solar energy production to continue, although industry officials say it allows insufficient room for growth and innovation. “The future of Arizona’s solar industry was very much on the line in this case and while this settlement doesn’t help Arizona solar grow, it allows solar to remain a viable option for some Arizonans,” Brandon Cheshire, president of the board of AriSEIA, said in a statement.

Arizona’s energy fights have been heavily shaped by outside money and influence. In December, HCN D.C. Correspondent Elizabeth Shogren traced it back to the Citizens United decision, writing, “These days, it can be impossible to know who is behind a successful advertisement that tarnishes one candidate or praises another. That’s due in large part to the 2010 Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which held that corporations can legally hide political donations. Since then, outside spending on elections by corporations and interest groups has skyrocketed. Not only that, but the public seems to have quickly accepted the new reality.

‘They accept it as part of the normal process,’ says Patrick Murray, director of Monmouth University’s polling institute. ‘The public’s sense is that it’s going on on both sides of the aisle.’”

The beginning of endlings 

HCN contributing editor Michelle Nijhuis looked into the word “endling,” which describe the last member of a family or species, for the New Yorker. She writes: “From Australia, the theoretical chemist David Craig wrote to say that he preferred ‘ender,’ already in the dictionary and rarely used for other purposes; an employee of a California gene-therapy company opined that ‘endling’ had a ‘somewhat pathetic feel to it, similar to ‘foundling,’ ’ and proposed the regal-sounding ‘terminarch’ as an alternative; from the Isle of Man, another reader wrote to argue that no new word was needed, since ‘relict’ was perfectly suited to the purpose.” Unfortunately, the word is likely to take on greater resonance for Westerners as climate change rearranges the plants and animals of our region.

Environmental journalism’s highs and lows

Forewarned, a blockbuster package at Ensia, looks at how environmental journalism has warned of great disasters, and often been ignored. The piece walks through the best: early reporting on what a hurricane could do to New Orleans, watchdog journalism on pollution from the Hanford nuclear weapons complex and excellent reporting on ocean acidification’s widespread effects from the Seattle Times. It also hits on some lows, such as coverage of global cooling.

In other news on the news, tribal radio stations could be the hardest hit by a proposal to privatize the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. For Al Jazeera, Tristan Ahtone writes, “In indigenous communities around the country, where the digital divide is often most pronounced, tribal radio is often the only source for information. Without it, those communities could become even further isolated from the rest of America.”

Adorable agencies

It’s the 168th birthday of the Department of Interior and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is celebrating:

State border to split policing in polygamous towns

Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona, form Short Creek, a community that has been home to an isolated branch of the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for decades. A former leader of the community, Warren Jeffs, was arrested in 2006 and is currently serving a life sentence for sexual assault linked to the polygamous practices of the town. The town’s municipal services have been largely influenced by the community’s religious leaders; the Justice Department has begun cracking down on what it says are discriminatory practices. (Read our feature on their efforts and on the town’s flawed practices here.) Now, Hildale’s new town marshal, who is not affiliated with the church, has been barred from patrolling the Arizona half of the town, due to misconduct as a juvenile. The Salt Lake Tribune has the story.

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