Morning Rundown: Monday, Aug. 9
It’s Monday, Aug. 9. Arizona’s Independent Redistricting Commission is slated to wrap up a series of public hearings today in Mesa. The IRC held meetings in communities ranging from Flagstaff and Prescott to Window Rock and Show Low as it prepares to draw new congressional and legislative districts statewide over the next decade. Past meetings can be viewed here.
Rumble On The Mountain Discusses Snowbowl, Water Rights, Uranium Mine
Artists, musicians and activists gathered in Flagstaff’s Orpheum Theater Saturday at Rumble on the Mountain. The Indigenous-led event that touched on water rights and racial discrimination in the Flagstaff area. Participants including musician Klee Benally condemned the Arizona Snowbowl’s continued usage of treated sewage water on the San Francisco Peaks, a site considered sacred by area tribes.
Hopi Chairman Timothy Nuvangyaoma acknowledged the Snowbowl, along with the state’s ongoing drought and its effect on Hopi land and farming practices. The chairman called for greater action from Flagstaff city officials in collaborating with neighboring tribes.
“When we come to this battle over water and positions certain municipalities have taken, to some degree what Hopi’s been told is, ‘what you have out there on your main reservation is adequate for you all,’” Nuvangyaoma told audiences Saturday. “How do you expect our future generations to live, to grow?”
Participants also called for the closure of the Pinyon Plain Mine, a uranium mining site south of Tusayan. Environmental advocates say the mine poses water contamination risks. U.S. Forest Service officials are considering an aquifer permit for the mine; a comment period regarding the mine’s activity ended Saturday, though a public hearing is scheduled this evening.
Coconino Fair Approaches As Cases Rise
The Coconino County Fair will officially be held in person next month over the Labor Day weekend. The fair last year was held virtually due to the pandemic; organizers say masks will be encouraged indoors, though not required, and that sanitizing areas will be dispersed throughout the site at Fort Tuthill County Park.
Coconino County, meanwhile, continued to report a rise in COVID-19 infections in its latest data released Friday. Twenty-eight total cases of the highly transmissible delta variant have been reported countywide. Positive cases last week were most common for individuals between 20 and 44 years old, according to the report.
Rafael Fire Closure Area Shrinks; Monsoon Activity Slated Once Again
Prescott National Forest officials have reduced a closure area in the wake of the Rafael Fire southwest of Flagstaff. Land areas surrounding Sycamore Creek remain closed off to the public. Flash flood continues to pose a risk downstream of the fire’s burn scar, according to forest officials.
Meanwhile, in Flagstaff, chances for precipitation will reach about 30% today, increasing to 51% tomorrow, according to the National Weather Service.
NAU Rolls Out COVID-19 Mitigation Amid Executive Orders
Northern Arizona University President Jose Luis Cruz Rivera says the university will roll out a program conducting random testing for COVID-19.
Cruz Rivera says additional details on the upcoming testing program are forthcoming.
“The objective is to reach the levels of testing that helped us mitigate COVID-19 transmission risks in the past,” he wrote Friday, referencing mandatory random testing NAU mandated in past semesters.
Those mandatory tests are no longer legal. An executive order issued by Gov. Doug Ducey in June now prohibits mandatory testing and mask mandates in public universities and community colleges.
NAU has also announced an incentives program for students who receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The university says those who upload their vaccination cards will be eligible for a number of rewards — from Apple Watches to vouchers for student dining. Public universities cannot legally mandate the vaccine; they also cannot require students to submit vaccine-related information, under Ducey’s executive order.