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PM NewsBrief: Nov. 21, 2022

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This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Monday, Nov. 21, 2022.

Lesser prairie chicken listing

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is listing a grassland grouse living in Oklahoma and other south central states as endangered and threatened. Although, the Lesser Prairie Chicken can benefit from new federal protections.

The Lesser Prairie Chicken population that lives partly in western Oklahoma is being listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and another population that resides primarily in New Mexico is endangered.

So what does that mean? “Threatened” status means U.S. Fish and Wildlife believes the bird will likely become endangered in the foreseeable future. “Endangered” means the service believes it will become extinct in the foreseeable future - and that comes with significantly more protections.

Efforts to list the Lesser Prairie Chicken are controversial because it lives in prime oil and gas country, and industries will now have to work around new protections. Conservationists say while the decision is a huge win for a bird, there’s more work to do to ensure it’ll stick around much longer.

Latest search for 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre victims comes to an end

During this round that began in October, scientists discovered an additional 32 caskets. Eight sets of remains were exhumed for further analysis. State archaeologist Kary Stackelbeck said the remains meeting the criteria for possible massacre victims and exhumed thus far are not in a mass grave, but rather spread throughout the search area. Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum says he considers the entire cemetery to be a mass grave.

“Is there a mass grave where there are people lined up in a row like we thought might be? That is not the case. Is Oaklawn Cemetery still a mass grave? Yes. We have documented evidence that it is.”

Two sets of the 66 remains found in the past two years have been confirmed to have gunshot wounds though none have been identified or confirmed to be victims of the massacre. Investigators have recommended expanding the search to a nearby park and an adjacent homeless camp where oral histories have indicated massacre victims were buried.

Oklahoman killed in the Colorado Springs nightclub mass shooting

An Oklahoman was among those killed over the weekend in the Colorado Springs nightclub mass shooting, according to a report from ABC News.

The news outlet confirmed that 28-year-old Daniel Davis Aston, who worked as a bartender at the club, was one of the victims who lost their lives in the shooting at Club Q.

This comes after a 22-year-old gunman opened fire in the LGBTQ nightclub late Saturday killing five people and injuring 25.

Oklahoma State Parks restrooms receive upgrades

The state Tourism and Recreation Department has completed a multi-year process of renovating the bathrooms at several state parks and campgrounds.

According to the agency, the restrooms are now climate controlled, offer more privacy and feature other enhancements that will make them easier for the state to maintain.

The project included about 120 replacements and renovations in 21 state parks and 77 campgrounds.

Holiday air travel up from last year

Many will be hitting the road this Thanksgiving holiday.

AAA predicts nearly 55 million people will travel this Thanksgiving--a slight increase from last year. Most will choose to drive, but others will take to the skies.

According to the agency, air travel is up nearly 8% over last year, nearly back to pre-pandemic levels.

Will Rogers World Airport says passengers and visitors can expect longer lines and wait times this year. The airport estimates 35,000 passengers will make their way through Will Rogers leading up to the holiday. Travelers are strongly urged to arrive at least two hours before their flight's boarding time and have their belongings ready to be checked and documentation prepared to minimize delays.
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