NATIONAL PARK VISITATION
Yellowstone, Grand Teton set records for park visitation
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Park officials say visitation at Yellowstone National Park last month has increased by 40% compared to 2019, an increase of about 19,000 people and a record for the month. The Billings Gazette reported Friday that Superintendent Cam Sholly predicted the park would be busier early this year based on the inability of tourists to travel internationally as demand for outdoor recreation increased last year. He said that more than 67,000 visitors entered the park. The previous high was set in 2016 with more than 59,000 people. Grand Teton National Park also experienced high visitation last month with more than 87,700 visitors, a 48% increase compared to the same month in 2019.
Oregon among blue states slow at lifting COVID restrictions
CANNON BEACH, Ore. (AP) — Even as the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moved earlier this month to ease indoor mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people, some blue states like Oregon and Washington are still holding on to certain longtime coronavirus restrictions. While Northwest states are adapting the new federal mask guidance they are maintaining indoor capacity restrictions, likely through the end of June. Officials in Oregon are split, some insisting life will soon feel like how it did in 2019, but first more people need to get vaccinated. And others say restrictions have lasted far too long and people are exhausted.
Anti-government activist Ammon Bundy runs for Idaho governor
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Anti-government activist Ammon Bundy is running to be Idaho’s next governor, according to documents filed Friday with the Secretary of State’s office. Bundy, best known for leading an armed standoff at an Oregon wildlife refuge five years ago, is running as a Republican in the 2022 gubernatorial primary, according to campaign finance documents. Current Idaho Gov. Brad Little, Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin and four other Republicans — Jeff Cotton, Edward Humphreys, Lisa Marie and Cody Usabel — have also filed campaign documentation needed to run for governor. So far no Democratic candidates have entered the race.
Some Idaho residents to see one-time tax rebate this summer
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Some Idaho taxpayers will see a one-time tax rebate this summer as part of the income tax legislation passed earlier this year. Boise State Public Radio reports the one-time rebate will go to full-time Idaho residents who filed income tax returns in 2019 and 2020. Each person will get either a minimum of $50, plus $50 for each dependent, or 9% of the state income tax they paid in 2019, whichever is greater. It’s part of an overhaul of income tax law that is costing the state nearly $383 million, nearly $163 million of which is ongoing.
PROSECUTORS-THIN BLUE LINE FLAG
Idaho prosecutors explain tweet with ‘thin blue line’ flag
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Ada County prosecutor’s office has received online criticism after promoting its services in honor of Crime Victims’ Rights Week last month with a post on Twitter where the thin blue line flag was visible in the background. The tweet included a link to a blog post that highlighted victim-witness coordinators who work to make victims feel empowered. The Idaho Statesman reported that the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho and others questioned if the prosecutors also served police violence victims. The office said in a statement that it did not intend to take any position other than to highlight the work of those who support crime victims.
ADVANCED TEST REACTOR-OVERHAUL
Powerful US nuclear test reactor getting rare major overhaul
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Scientists in Idaho this summer plan to remove the 62,000-pound stainless steel lid on one of the world’s most powerful nuclear test reactors for a rare internal overhaul. The scientists said this week that the Advanced Test Reactor at the Idaho National Laboratory is being refurbished and improved with new components and experimental capacity. The reactor’s experiments help the U.S. Navy’s nuclear-powered war fleet stay at sea longer, bolster NASA’s space exploration and advance life-saving medical treatments. The reactor also plays a key role in keeping commercial nuclear power plants running longer and in creating new and safer reactors to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.