Illegal pot farms wreak havoc on national forests

Mexican drug cartels, operating illegal marijuana farms on public lands, are polluting forests and saddling the federal government with millions of dollars in clean-up costs. Trespass marijuana farms are thought to number in the hundreds of thousands in California alone. The sites “wreak havoc on the land, leaving behind hundreds of thousands of pounds of garbage, leaching caustic chemicals, polluting watersheds, and damaging the habitat of endangered and at-risk species,” reports High Country News.

Zinke plan for federal land: Drill, baby, drill

The Interior Department would auction off millions of acres of public land for oil and gas development, according to a draft obtained by The Nation of the department's strategic plan for the next five years. "It states that the DOI is committed to achieving 'American energy dominance' through the exploitation of 'vast amounts' of untapped energy reserves on public lands."

House appropriators open the door to horse slaughter

The long-running ban on horse slaughter in the United States, a rider on the annual USDA-FDA funding bill, would end on Sept. 30 under a vote by the House Appropriations Committee. Before clearing the bill for a floor vote, the committee refused, 27-25, to include the provision in the $145 billion funding bill for the fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1.

First round of Bundy case over ranching standoff called a mistrial

The first trial of three in the case against Cliven Bundy — a Nevada rancher who organized an armed standoff against the federal government — and his followers has been deemed a mistrial after the jury failed to reach consensus on all but two defendants after five days of deliberations. A new trial will begin on June 26.

Republican Senators move to stop national monuments with a new bill

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, has introduced a bill in Congress to amend the Antiquities Act, which grants U.S. presidents the right to create national monuments. Last month, President Obama designated 1.35 million acres under the act in Utah and another 300,000 acres in Nevada, bringing his total to nearly 538 million acres, more than any other president.

Study: governments don’t know if spraying invasive species hurts public lands

Government agencies in the U.S., Canada and Mexico can't say for sure whether the herbicides they spray on pubic lands to control invasive species are doing more harm than good, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Montana and their Canadian colleagues. The huge amount of herbicides applied by land managers every year—largely glyphosate (the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup)—may in fact prevent native species from germinating.

Utah to sue the feds for control of public land

Lawmakers in Utah announced on Monday that they’re poised to sue the federal government for control of 31 million acres of public land, according to an AP report in The Spectrum.