Bennion Creek and Bear fires cause evacuations, impact travel on U.S. Highway 6 | Local News

The Bennion Creek and Bear fires, located near the Utah and Carbon County border, continued to burn into Friday, causing evacuations and leading to closures along U.S. Highway 6 north of Helper.

As of Friday, the Bennion Creek Fire is reported to be 0% contained with 4,706 acres burned and the Bear Creek Fire is 5% contained with 8,332 acres burned.

On Thursday, U.S. 6 was closed at approximately 11 a.m. due to the Bear fire with no estimate of it reopening. Cars were diverted off the highway to use Emma Park Road and U.S. 191 as a detour.

Firefighters conducted firing operations on the west side of the highway during the closure to try and keep the fire from jumping the freeway. In an update from Thursday night, the highway remained closed but officials felt confident they could keep the fire from moving toward Helper.

“I know things look bad with all the smoke, but the fire is still hung up high on the hillsides,” Type 3 Incident Commander Jason Porter said in a Facebook post. “The smoke is just bending down into the canyon and the valleys.” 

About two hours later, the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office issued a pre-evacuation in the northwest corner of Helper due to fire behavior, which included 10 homes.

In an update Friday morning, officials noted challenging weather conditions overnight with cooler temperatures and calmer winds.

On Friday afternoon, one lane was opened on U.S. 6, with cars following a pilot car to ensure firefighter and driver safety. Due to the proximity of the Bennion Creek Fire, the two fires continue to share resources.

The Bennion Creek Fire experienced strong winds and extreme fire behavior, moving the fire southeast and leading to evacuations of Aspen Cove in Scofield.

“Crews today (Friday) are working to establish containment lines to protect structures and the community of Aspen Cove,” a Facebook post said.

To get updates on fires in the state of Utah, visit or follow @UtahWildfire on Twitter or Facebook.

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Agoda Sustainable Travel Trends Survey Reveals People’s Top Concerns about Tourism’s Impact, and Measures to Make Travel More Sustainable

The findings from the Survey launched today to mark World Environment Day 2021 (5 June) also revealed globally that overtourism, and pollution of beaches and waterways are the top two concerns of the impact of tourism, with deforestation and energy inefficiencies (including overconsumption of electricity/water) ranking joint third.

Governments considered most responsible for making changes to make travel more sustainable

Globally, the public considers Governments most accountable for making positive environmental changes around travel, followed by tourism authorities and individuals themselves. When it came to holding governments most accountable, those in Indonesia and UK were most likely to do so (36%), Mainland China followed not too far behind at 33%, with Australia and Malaysia in fourth and fifth spot (28% and 27% respectively). The markets most likely to cite themselves or individuals as most responsible for making changes to traveling sustainably were Thailand (30%), Japan (29%) and the US (28%). Meanwhile, Mainland China (11%), the UK (13%), and Vietnam (14%) were least likely to attribute responsibility to the individual.

When asked what they would pledge to do better in a post COVID travel scenario, the top responses globally were #1 manage their waste including using less single-use plastics, #2 switch off the air con and lights when leaving their accommodation, and #3 always look for eco-friendly accommodation. Interestingly, despite overtourism being the biggest concern, going to lesser-known destinations only ranked seventh of out of 10 as a pledge to do better.

No ‘one size fits all for’ sustainability

The top practices most associated with environmentally friendly or sustainable travel are #1 renewable energy and resources like solar, wind, hydroelectric and water, #2 no single-use plastics, joint number #3 animal conservation and creating a smaller carbon footprint.

Other energy saving solutions such as key cards or motion sensors, using natural cleaning products are the other key practices. Interestingly, buying locally sourced products, reusing bedding or towels during holiday stays and visiting off-the-beaten track destinations are the bottom three practices out of 10 associated with sustainable travel.

“We can see from the Agoda Sustainable Travel Trends Survey that the messages of taking simple steps such as switching off lights and air conditioning when leaving the room or reducing waste by minimizing use of single-use plastics are being embraced by the public across the globe. What is also clear is that while globally the message is Governments need to take the lead on managing sustainable travel, there is recognition that some responsibility lies with people’s own behavior,” explains John Brown, CEO Agoda.

“While there are different interpretations of what practices are eco-friendly or sustainable, most of the public are keen to be able to do their part, by actively pledging to choose eco-friendly properties or make smarter environmental choices when traveling. One of the easiest ways to counter concerns about overtourism is to consider traveling to off the beaten track destinations. This past year at Agoda, we have seen a shift in travel patterns as people, limited to domestic travel, explore lesser-known areas. If managed well, not only does this help support independent hoteliers and accommodation providers that rely economically on the tourist dollar, it can help lessen the environmental burden on overcrowded areas.

“As an industry, we need to continue to find ways to help individuals achieve these goals be it making it easier to search and find sustainable properties on Agoda or supporting and encouraging more partners to use key cards for power, use renewable energy sources or offering carbon-offsetting options for travel products.” continued Brown.

COVID negatively impacts attitudes to sustainable travel

The increase in desire to travel more sustainably was most prevalent among respondents from South Korea, India and Taiwan, 35%, 31% and 31% respectively. However, looking at the figures globally, while 25% have an increased desire to travel more sustainably this compares with 35% whose desire to do so decreased. The markets reporting the biggest proportional decrease were Indonesia (56%), Thailand (51%) and the Philippines (50%).

“It’s concerning that many people see sustainable travel as less important today than they did before COVID-19, but I hope that is just a short-term effect, driven by people’s thirst to get back out there and travel any way they can,” John Brown concluded.


  • More Americans are most concerned about polluted beaches, followed by overtoursim, and energy inefficiencies.
  • Americans take complete accountability, with 28% claiming they themselves are responsible for making changes around tourism to make traveling more sustainable, followed by both tourism authorities and Governments tied at 16%
  • US top pledges to travel more sustainably post-Covid are #1 switch off air conditioner and lights when leaving their hotel room, #2 reuse hotel amenities such as towels or bedding and joint #3 shopping local or independent businesses and managing their waste
  • Practices that are considered most helpful to travel sustainably by Americans are accommodations using renewable energy or water source, key cards to power electricity in an accommodation, and destinations that are not high-density tourist spots
  • What do they associate with sustainable travel? Use of renewable energy 36%, energy saving 26%, no single use plastics and buying local both tie at 25%
  • The additional measures to help make travel more sustainable according to Americans are easy identification of eco-friendly travel options, limiting use of single-use plastic in airlines or accommodations, and financial incentives to accommodation providers who maximize energy efficiency

Diving deep into the data 

On additional measures: 

  • While making it compulsory for travelers to pay a sum for carbon off-setting is selected by the least as a measure that could be implemented to make travel more sustainable, respondents in India were most likely to support this concept, versus Mainland China which is the market least likely to do so, followed by US and Taiwan markets.
  • Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Mainland China and Australia are the markets most likely to suggest financial incentives for accommodation providers who maximize energy efficiency
  • Japan is the market least likely to recommend more protected areas to limit tourist numbers followed by South Korea and the US. Meanwhile, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia markets are most likely to
  • UK tops the list as the market most likely to support limiting use of single-use plastics in airlines or accommodation, closely followed by Australia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Mainland China, Taiwan, the US and Japan are least likely to suggest this measure
  • Malaysian, Filipinos and Indonesians are most favorable for easy identification of sustainable or eco-friendly travel options, such as flagging with an environmental tag on a digital travel platform. While still their number one measure overall, US and Japan are the bottom two markets for such identification
  • Removal of single-use bathroom amenities is most favored by Taiwan, Japan and UK

On responsibility for change to make travel more sustainable: 

  • All generations selected governments as the top response for who is most responsible except for the Silent Gen (those born before 1946), who has the largest proportion which consider individuals as most responsible
  • Men are marginally more likely to cite governments as most responsible (28%), followed by tourism authorities (21%) and Themselves (20%). An equal portion of women hold government and tourism authorities as most responsible (25%), followed by themselves, (19%).

On Pledges for more sustainable travel

Global Top Ten pledges to travel more sustainably

  1. Manage my waste during my travel period (e.g., use less single-use plastics)
  2. Switch the air conditioner and lights off when I leave my room
  3. Always look for eco-friendly accommodation
  4. Try to manage my carbon footprint (e.g., taking most journeys by bus, train or boat, or paying for a carbon offset)
  5. Do my part to reuse hotel amenities such as towels or bedding
  6. Shop local/choose independent businesses
  7. Going to lesser-known destinations
  8. Pick up litter when I visit the beach
  9. Requesting for no toiletries in the room as I can bring my own
  10.  Use reef-friendly products on beach trips
  • Philippines, Malaysia and India are most likely of all markets to pledge to look for eco-friendly accommodation
  • Singapore, UK and Australia are the markets most likely to pledge to reuse hotel amenities such as towels and bedding, compared to Indonesia, Philippines, Mainland China and Thailand which are the least likely to
  • Indonesia, Philippines and Malaysia most likely to pledge to go to lesser-known destinations to travel more sustainably, with Japan, UK and Taiwan least likely to
  • While managing waste including using less single-use plastics is a top three pledge for all markets, South Korea, Thailand and Philippines are the markets most likely to pledge this
  • Despite pollution of waterways being cited as the number two concern for the impact of travel, picking up litter off beaches ranks only #8 out of 10 in pledges to travel more sustainably, with only 18% pledging to do so
  • Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and Mainland China are top markets to pledge to pick up litter when visiting the beach. Respondents in Singapore, Taiwan and Japan are least likely to
  • Shopping local is at #6 in the pledges with Australia (35%), UK (31%) and US (28%) most likely to pledge this, and Japan (5%), Mainland China (9%) and Taiwan (11%) least likely to
  • Higher percentage of women pledge to manage waste (44% versus 40%) and switched off aircon/lights (44% versus 36%) than men
  • Bottom five pledges globally from last – using reef friendly products on beach trips (14%), requesting no toiletries as can bring my own (17%), picking up litter when visiting the beach (18%) going to lesser-known destinations (19%), and shopping local (21%)
  • While both women and men’s top three pledges are the same, women’s top four is rounded out by a pledge to reuse hotel amenities, versus men who pledge bigger actions such as trying to manage carbon footprint in their fourth spot
  • Singaporeans are more likely to pledge to switch off aircon and lights when they leave the room and reuse amenities, compared to other markets
  • Philippines (49%), Malaysia (43%) and India (42%) are most likely to always look for eco-friendly accommodation when they travel post COVID-19
  • Conversely, public in the UK (14%), Mainland China (17%), US (17%), Japan (18%) and South Korea (18%) are least likely to look for eco-friendly accommodation as a pledge


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How Billions of Unused Airline Miles Could Impact Air Travel After COVID

According to a new ValuePenguin study, a massive number of unused airlines rewards miles that went unused in 2020 could cause issues for consumers as travel begins to ramp back up in 2021.

The firm found that the U.S.’ top five most valuable airline loyalty programs (Delta Air Lines’ SkyMiles, American Airlines’ AAdvantage, United Airlines’ MileagePlus, Southwest Airlines’ Rapid Rewards and JetBlue’s TrueBlue) ended 2020 with a combined balance of $27.5 billion in unused loyalty program miles—up $2.9 billion from 2019.


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Since COVID-19 essentially brought air travel to a halt starting in March of last year, amid lockdowns and border closures, most people were unable to travel and therefore couldn’t redeem their accrued loyalty points. And, airlines largely paused their usual expiration policies for customers’ earned miles in light of the crisis.

Because rewards redemptions represent losses on their overall balance sheets, airlines view outstanding miles as “liabilities”, which they’d prefer to minimize as they try to bounce back from the financial blight brought on by COVID-19.

In 2020, between American, United, Delta, Southwest and JetBlue, liabilities spiked 11.6 percent from the prior year. As a point of reference, liabilities among these five rewards programs had grown by just 3.7 percent from in 2019 from the previous year.

LendingTree’s chief credit analyst Matt Schulz expects to see travelers trying to use up those points this year. “I think we’re going to see a whole lot of people burning through a whole lot of miles pretty darn soon,” he said. “That may not be the best news for the airline industry, which is desperate to get as many paying customers as possible onto planes as soon as possible, but it is the reality.”

Woman with many different credit loyalty discount cards
Woman with many different credit loyalty discount cards. (photo via Slphotography /iStock / Getty Images Plus)

At the same time, loyalty program members earned only around half (53.8 percent) the rewards in 2020 as they had the previous year—$6.8 billion worth of miles compared to $12.6 billion in 2019. Since not many were actually flying, so many of those likely came from purchases on credit cards that offer co-branded airline rewards points.

Members also redeemed far fewer of their rewards miles than they typically do: 11.3 percent of available miles, which is only about one-tenth of their combined earnings for the year. That’s down significantly from more normal percentages, such as 30.5 percent in 2019 and 30.3 percent in 2018. And, customers redeemed only 57 cents for every dollar’s worth of miles earned in 2020 across the five most valuable programs, down from 90 cents in 2019 and 92 cents in 2018.

“It’s clear that most people didn’t use airline-specific miles at all in 2020,” Schulz said. “It simply wasn’t an option for most Americans. People were a bit more likely to have used bank-issued points and miles, such as those from Chase and Capital One, but that was in part because card issuers gave cardholders more options, like using them to pay for groceries and other such necessities.”

The value of rewards points in their members’ accounts is one of the main liabilities that airlines carry on their balance sheets, ValuePenguin explained. Because of that, and especially as they look to increase revenues during times of financial uncertainty, airlines may soon reduce the value of those rewards, or reinstate expiration policies on members’ earned miles to lower those liabilities.

Young woman at airport checking flight departures
Young woman at airport checking flight departures (Photo via martin-dm / Getty Images / E+)

Luckily, the Delta, United, Southwest and Jet Blue rewards programs do not expire loyalty members’ earned miles after a set period of inactivity on the account, though American Airlines still does. While American and others paused expirations during the pandemic, customers can expect to see mileage expiration policies to restart fairly soon, ValuePenguin advised.

The firm also recommends that loyalty program members not hold onto their rewards miles for too long, as airlines have a history of devaluing their miles, meaning that the rewards points you’ve been saving up may suddenly become worth less than they were the day before.

“Ultimately, this glut of miles might end up leading to more devaluation,” Schulz said. “That would help airlines as they continue to try to recover financially from the devastation wrought by the pandemic, but it would not be great news for consumers.” When it comes to the question of when to redeem miles, “The best advice is always to use them sooner rather than later,” Schulz advised. “Airline miles tend to lose value over time, and that’s certainly likely to be the case in the near future, so when in doubt, use them.”

That may not be quite as easy as it sounds, since airlines downsized both their fleets and personnel numbers amid COVID-19, and will only gradually be ramping their operations back up as demand increases. ValuePenguin’s report suggested that it may prove harder to use your miles with a higher-than-average number of flyers looking to book available seats as things start picking up, so it would behoove rewards members to stay flexible in terms of travel planning.

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How Could Travel Impact the Jaguars’ 2021 Schedule?

The NFL—and subsequently Jacksonville Jaguars—have been pushing the upcoming 2021 schedule as the biggest season ever. A 17th game has been added for everyone, stretching the season to 18 weeks, the International Series in London has been reestablished after a year off from COVID and it’s presumed fans will be allowed back in the stands.

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Road Projects In The Area Will Impact Your Travel

I94 29 Loop 051021

FARGO, N.D. — Road crews started work on the I-94 and I-29 intersection in Fargo this morning.

They are working on the bridge approach slabs and installing expansion joints.

Two lanes of traffic and ramp access will remain open, different east and west lanes will be closed at times during the work.

Speeds will be reduced to 45 miles per hour.

The next phase of the project will be on I-94 at 9th Street East, followed by 45th Street South.

All work should be done by mid-August.

Drivers will find reduced lanes and traffic speeds starting Tuesday on I-29 at Exit 56.

Crews will be closing inside and outside lanes for a painting project at the Horace bridge.

It is the third part of a series of painting projects along the I-29 corridor that will prevent corrosion and improve bridge integrity.

Speeds will drop down to 40 miles per hour in the work zone.

The work will take between two and four weeks before crews move to Exit 78 at Argusville.

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New Milford Water Main Break Could Impact Travel in the Morning – NBC Connecticut

A water main break in New Milford could cause travel delays in the area for school buses in the morning.

Mayor Pete Bass said a major water main break was reported on Railroad Street by the train tracks.

Officials say this will be a lengthy repair, which could cause travel delays in the morning for buses transporting students to school.

Aquarian water crews remain at the site of the break, which was reported Sunday morning. Water has been restored to downtown businesses.

Traffic was detoured on Sunday and crews are advising people to give themselves extra time to travel.

The school superintendent, bus company and administration have been notified of the break and the impact it could have on the morning commute.

Additional updates are expected to come.

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Local Birmingham man feeling impact of India travel restrictions

Local Birmingham man feeling impact of India travel restrictions

A Birmingham man is unable to make it to India for his mother’s funeral because of the COVID-19 travel ban.


Local Birmingham man feeling impact of India travel restrictions

A Birmingham man is unable to make it to India for his mother’s funeral because of the COVID-19 travel ban.

Local Birmingham man feeling impact of India travel restrictions, after he is unable to visit home after his mother passed away. Learn more in the video above.

Local Birmingham man feeling impact of India travel restrictions, after he is unable to visit home after his mother passed away. Learn more in the video above.

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Derby Hotel Occupancy Economic Impact Tourism Travel

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — When it comes to tourism in the Derby City, things are still far from normal.

What You Need To Know

  • ‘Louisville Tourism’ expects Louisville’s economic impact from Derby to fall just below $35 million
  • Hotel occupancy is rising, with The Galt House seeing at least an 85% occupancy rate for Derby
  • Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport expects about 14,500 arrivals between Wednesday and Friday, half of 2019 numbers
  • The Kentucky Derby is the largest economic impact event of the year for Louisville

However, tourism industry experts say things are improving. Kentucky Derby 147 is projected to bring in less than a fourth of the economic impact a “good year” would do for Louisville. However, folks are celebrating an increasing hotel occupancy and number of flights into the city.

The Galt House is one hotel steadily ramping-up operations. It’s the largest hotel in Kentucky, with more than 1,300 rooms; Skip James said at least 1,100 are booked. It’s about 85% occupied, and that’s huge considering how COVID-19 shuttered the hospitality industry.

“Those feelings are coming back, of what it’s like to have a busy hotel,” James beamed. 

He’s worked in sales and marketing for AJS Hotels, which manages Galt House and two other hotels, for long enough to experience three Derby seasons. 

“To have an event that’s bigger than your hotel or bigger than what you’re specifically doing in your venue…there’s a celebration in the air,” James says. 

Usually, his hotels are booked months before now, but he’s happy to compare Derby 147 to Derby 146. That is, a tremendous step toward “normal” from last September, when Derby 146 moved from its usual May date. The number of spectators was limited, which meant far fewer hotel guests then.

He’s hopeful things are on the upswing, now, as travel officials are. At Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport, the number of passengers has been increasing since pandemic brought things to nearly a halt.

“It’s about 1,000 seats more than the week prior, so there is definitely an increase specific to that Derby travel period. And again, it definitely is looking better than where we were in 2020,” said Public Relations Director Natalie Chaudoin. 

Chaudoin expects at least 14,500 arrivals from Wednesday through Friday ahead of Derby day. That’s about half the activity leading into Derby 145, in 2019, pre-pandemic. To Chaudoin, it means things are “in recovery from the pandemic.”

Although business pales in comparison to things pre-pandemic, Louisville Tourism’s CEO chooses to see it “glass half-full,” marking progress amid the pandemic.

“I am very very optimistic about the future,” said Karen Williams, “I mean, just to stand here with you today saying that we are going to have Derby, and the world feels so much better from a visitor perspective.”

Williams says The Derby, in a “good year,” brings in about $200 million for Louisville in economic impact. She expects this year will bring in more like $35 million. 

Even so, James is just one of the hotels trying to get back to business as normal. He’s been hiring back the staff laid-off during the thick of COVID-19. There have been job fairs, but he says employees have been hard to bring back. It’s part of the hospitality industry’s next struggle.

“If you know anybody looking for work, we have plenty of openings. And that’s, that’s been the theme as well, is really finding the staff in order for us to take care of the demand,” James pleads.


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How the rental car shortage could impact your next trip

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Zero to 60. As travel picks back up, the car rental industry is seeing a boom in business. Rental car companies struggling to keep up with the demand.

“A lot of the rental car companies during COVID had liquidated a lot of their fleets because they weren’t renting as many cars and so it’s created a real demand for people trying to get cars,” explained Jay Dill, owner of the Travel Junkie.

The national rental car shortage is causing costs to surge and forcing renters like Jessica Lockwood to rethink plans.

“I was not going to pay that to come to Kansas for our first time for three days and pay $400 for a car that I may drive 30 miles.”

While she lucked out with a deal online, that is not the case for everyone.

“The guy before me that (rented) one at the counter paid $400 for a smaller car than what we got,” Lockwood said.

Dill says the shortage has even caused some to cancel.

“They ended up scrapping the trip because the rental car was like twice what the airfare was.”

Rental company, Hertz, tells KSN they are working on a solution.

“Hertz is working closely with our automotive partners to add new vehicles to our fleet as quickly as possible while also moving vehicles to the areas with highest demand.”

Meanwhile, if you are planning to travel soon, Dill’s biggest tip is to book as soon as possible.

“The earlier you can book. The earlier you can plan, the more availability you’ll have and the better pricing you’ll get.”

Hertz expects this demand to last several months and throughout the Summer. They suggest looking into neighborhood rental locations instead of airports for better availability.

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Travel restrictions impact study abroad, CSU creates new opportunity

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – The world locked down due to COVID-19, and university students planning to study abroad had to adapt their plans. Columbus State University took the used the roadblocks from the pandemic to implement a virtual opportunity for students looking to study abroad. 

Columbus State University has an average of 150 to 180 students going abroad each academic year. Students travel anywhere from Mexico to Western Europe to South Korea, but in 2020 and 2021, travel restrictions forced Columbus State University to shift programs online. An unexpected outcome from this shift was that it created an opportunity for students who otherwise may not have been able to study abroad. 

“I think the biggest lesson I got out of that… was that the virtual experience cost a lot less than the physical travel,” Dr. Eric Spears, Executive Director of the Center of Global Engagement, said. “I’m not saying that virtual can substitute for the kinds of experiences you can get with physical travel overseas, but it’s a different kind of experience that also has validity.”

CSU student TJ Sabau is one of the students participating in this new study abroad experience. Over an eight week period, he will operate in four different countries as part of his virtual internship. 

“It’s awesome because I’m older and married so I don’t have the ability to leave the country for longer periods of time just because I have obligations here,” Sabau said. “So this is an opportunity that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to get.”

With technology as a resource, building genuine human connection with people across the globe is easier than ever. Sabau emphasizes that it is important to have personalized relationships with people outside of the U.S.

“It’s different when you think of different countries, different cultures across the world… and when you think of them as kind of a nameless, faceless entity…. Thailand of example, it’s different when you know somebody in Thailand and when you think of Thailand you think of that personalized relationship.”

CSU is aiming to have in-person travel beginning in the fall semester with students going to Japan, South Korea and the UK. That being said, their virtual study abroad options are something they will continue to implement beyond the pandemic. 

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