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At least 23 dead in tornado-spawning storms sweeping central US, new report finds OR workforce grows, but gaps should be addressed; AM radio in every car? The debate hits Missouri; Proposal would make MI State Capitol a 'gun-free zone.'

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President Biden delivers a Memorial Day address, former president Trump's hush money trial is poised for jury deliberations, and the Justice Department warns of threats to election officials.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

Utah Approves $20 Million for Wildlife Crossings

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Wednesday, March 15, 2023   

Some $20 million of Utah's whopping $29 billion state budget will be spent on building wildlife crossings and fences across the state in an effort to keep wildlife off of highways.

Rep. Doug Owens, D-Salt Lake, said the appropriation is "non-lapsing," meaning the funds can be spent over time. Owens added the federal government needs to approve a four-to-one match, which would make a grand total of $100 million available for the projects statewide.

"That is a lot of money for fencing, and crossings and underpasses," Owens pointed out. "Hopefully we'll get all that $100 million spent here in the next few years, to keep our roadways safe."

Owens noted before the legislative session began, he asked the Utah Department of Transportation to put together a list of the top 10 hot spots where wildlife mitigation projects are needed most. He added with the estimated cost of the projects, $100 million will be enough to fund them.

An estimated 5,000 deer and 1,000 elk are involved in vehicle collisions in Utah every year.

Owens argued the number of large animal and vehicle collisions needs to come down, to prevent injuries and deaths for humans and animals alike, as well as the material damage. He called the appropriation a "win for everybody."

"Utahns incur about $130 million of expense every year fixing cars that have hit animals," Owens reported. "And that doesn't even include any of the medical costs, and even the occasional fatality of a person hitting a large animal."

Utah made history in 1975 as the first state to complete a wildlife overpass on Interstate 15 near Beaver. Since then, more than 100 projects have been executed, and Owens added he is excited to see more implemented around the state.


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