Judy Fahys


Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.

Ways to Connect

Judy Fahys / KUER News

British and American leaders signed the Migratory Bird Treaty a century ago.  These days the Great Salt Lake plays an important role in carrying out the mission of that international treaty and others that followed.

“It was amazing, forward thinking at that time,“ says Katie McVey, a wildlife refuge specialist at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in northern Utah.

National Interagency Fire Center

Jessica Wade began her career in wildland firefighting in her hometown of Vernal. This month she’s stepping into a new role, becoming the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s State Fire Management Officer for Utah during what’s often the busiest time of the year in the Great Basin for wildfire.

The Sutherland Institute

The conservative Sutherland Institute has released a new video that argues against the Bears Ears National Monument proposal.

The video’s headline asks if the Obama administration will stifle the American dream in Utah’s poorest county. It features children saying what they want to be when they grow up, maybe a cowboy or a rancher.

Utah Department of Health

Methamphetamine lab busts are on the decline in Utah down from 107 in 2004 to 1 in 2014.  But concerns at the Utah Department of Health are rising.

American Thoracic Society and Marron Institute Report

The American Thoracic Society is one of the organizations that has argued for years that less pollution would mean healthier Americans. The Environmental Protection Agency seemed to be listening last year when it tightened national ozone standards – a little. But new research suggests that even tougher pollution controls could save lives and improve health.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

Environmental groups fighting what would be Utah’s first nuclear power plant are dropping their lawsuit over water rights. But they say they’re not abandoning the cause.

“What we are doing is essentially moving from fighting this in the courts to fighting it in the marketplace,” says Matt Pacenza, director of HEAL Utah.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

Rhode Island Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse has given 144 speeches on the floor of the U.S. Senate about addressing climate change.

iStockphoto.com: johnnya123

Senator Mike Lee explained in a town hall meeting last month why he and Senator Orrin Hatch think federal land managers have it wrong when they forbid mountain biking in places where the Wilderness Act outlaws motorized vehicles.

“I don’t read it that way,” he told a caller. “Senator Hatch and I both believe that was a mistake in interpretation.”

Judy Fahys / KUER News

The last week of July is normally Utah’s hottest, but the pattern lately stands out. The National Weather Service has reported nine days in a row when temperatures reached 100 degrees or above. That’s one day shy of the longest run ever. The weather service also reported three weeks straight of temperatures 95 degrees or higher – the all-time longest.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

The outdoor recreation industry gathers again in Salt Lake City next week for its summer trade show. But, even before the hundreds of companies arrive, they’re having an impact statewide.

One example is Gregory Mountain Products, which has made backpacks for decades. It faced a big decision two years ago, when a Chicago company purchased the brand.

Screen Shot: / senator-mike-lee-tv

Both sides in the Bears Ears fight have called for compromise. But it increasingly looks unlikely they’ll find middle ground following a rowdy U.S. Senate field hearing Wednesday in Blanding.

emrah gAltekin / istockphoto.com

A state appeals court has rejected a challenge by environmental groups who were trying to block plans for Utah’s first nuclear power plant. Now one of those environmental groups is challenging the nuclear company’s plan to move forward.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

Senator Mike Lee is hosting a field hearing in southeastern Utah today on the proposed Bears Ears National Monument, and Congressman Rob Bishop and Governor Gary Herbert are scheduled to testify. They oppose a tribal coalition's proposal to create the monument here, and they want to persuade the Obama administration that Utah doesn’t want it. But U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell heard different views when she visited the area earlier this month. KUER's Judy Fahys caught up with her after a listening session as members of the tribal coalition gathered in a meadow below Bears Ears Buttes.

Christina R. Sloan/ Friends of Indian Creek

Utah’s economic officials are taking outdoor fun seriously. They’re fielding new applications for matching grants to fund outdoor recreation projects.

“There’s a lot of imagination here,” says Tom Adams, director of the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation, the first of its kind in the nation. “And the term ‘outdoor recreation’ is really vast.”

Ben Holcomb, Utah Department of Environmental Quality

Environmental officials can’t say when the algal blooms that are poisoning local lakes and streams might fade. But there are already signs this summer’s bacteria episode will have lingering impacts on state policies.

KUER News File

A new analysis of campaign fundraising shows Utah Congressman Rob Bishop has been raising a larger share of money from outside the state than any other lawmaker in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, is known for touting the high value of local voices in national decisions. But new data from the non-profit Center for Responsive Politics suggests that out-of-state interests are having an outsized impact impact on his campaign war chest.

Justin Miller / Wasatch Canyons Foundation

Imagine helping to preserve a little plot in Big Cottonwood Canyon. It’s an old mining claim not far from where moose like to loiter in the shade and mountain goats hang out.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

Hundreds of people descended on the tiny town of Bluff over the weekend to have a voice on public lands decisions being made in Washington.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

A sweeping lands plan for eastern Utah became proposed legislation on Thursday. Members of Utah’s congressional delegation introduce a pair of bills based on the Public Lands Initiative they’ve been working on for three years.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell begins a three-day tour of southeastern Utah Thursday. She’s planning to visit archeological sites that would be protected in the proposed Bears Ears National Monument. She’s also meeting people who say local ideas should drive conservation, not Washington.

KUER News File

Federal regulators have a special category for “Hazardous Air Pollutants.” And, when scientists at the Division of Air Quality went looking a few years ago, they found a few of those 180 pollutants at elevated levels in the Salt Lake Valley.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

Illegal drones are blamed for raising the cost -- and hazard -- of the Saddle Fire in southwestern Utah this summer more than once. So Governor Gary Herbert will ask lawmakers to approve legislation to address the problem.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

Freedom Shearer-Davis is tapping the contents a small plastic cup onto a plant that hugs the ground. This puncture vine – also known as goathead -- is dotted with deceptively dainty yellow flowers. The weevils look like a wad of dryer lint spilling out.

The little-known Community Impact Board usually spends its meetings considering funding requests for rural Utah projects like a new justice center in Grantsville or improvements at Grand County’s airport.


A watchdog group is joining the call for an investigation into the expenses of Utah’s lands-transfer lawsuit.

  • A $1,300 receipt for staying at the posh Grand America Hotel.
  • A beer tab prohibited in state contracts.
  • Lawyers charging $500 an hour and more for public relations and lobbying.

istockphoto.com: 8213erika

The smoke from fireworks skyrocketed pollution levels in Salt Lake, Weber, Tooele and Utah counties last weekend.  Monitors in Salt Lake County showed air quality ranging from unhealthy and very unhealthy for over four hours.

istockphoto.com: hanusst

An inconspicuous state panel known as the Community Impact Board will meet this week for the first time since the  Oakland, Calif., City Council voted to ban coal shipments. Board member Jae Potter says it’s disappointing, but Oakland’s move won’t derail support here for Utah coal.

The U.S. Department of Interior finalized its new royalty rules June 30, prompting criticism from industry and support among environmental organizations.


The seventh annual Clear the Air Challenge starts Friday. It’s a contest aimed at reducing summer ozone pollution that drew over seven thousand people last year. Together, they cut pollution by 646 tons.

About a dozen people are crowded into a living room in Holladay to hear Ty Markham. She's a Democrat running for Utah House District 73. It spans six downstate counties that include voters from Beaver to Monticello and Kanab. Its been represented by Republican Mike Noel for over a decade.