Senate approves Stone-Manning as land management chief
Tracy Stone-Manning, a long-time environmentalist, will serve as the first Senate-confirmed director of the Bureau of Land Management in more than four years, winning a party-line roll call on her nomination, 50-45. Montana Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat, said Republicans resorted to character assassination in their attempts to defeat the nomination.
Party-line committee split may not halt vote on BLM nominee
President Biden's choice to run the Bureau of Land Management will face a confirmation vote in the Senate without the committee endorsement given to nearly all nominees. After a heated debate that one senator called "a skunk fight," the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee split, 10-10, along party lines on whether to recommend Senate approval of Tracy Stone-Manning as director of the Interior Department agency.
National conservation goal: 30 percent of U.S. land and water
The Biden administration announced a 10-year, voluntary and locally led drive to conserve 30 percent of U.S. land and coastal waters by 2030, an idea President Biden broached in January. "This is the first national conservation goal we have ever set as a country," Gina McCarthy, the White House climate adviser, said Thursday during a rollout that featured three cabinet secretaries.
In public lands proposal, Warren seeks moratorium on drilling leases, free entry to national parks
Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren announced her public lands policy platform on Monday, which includes an end to new fossil fuel drilling leases and an expansion of renewable energy production. Meanwhile, candidate Bernie Sanders said he supports imposing a moratorium on agribusiness mergers.
Trump pardons Oregon ranchers whose case sparked Malheur takeover
Father-and-son Oregon ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond, sent to prison for arson on public land, received full pardons from President Trump on Tuesday, more than halfway through their five-year sentence. Farm groups applauded the decision while the Center for Western Priorities said the Trump "has once again sided with lawless extremists."
Low coal, uranium prices reduce interest in Bears Ears, Grand Staircase
The Trump administration's new and smaller boundaries for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments may not generate many immediate requests from energy companies to mine or drill on the 2 million acres of land, said the Associated Press. The Interior Department declined to say how many claims have been filed but a trade group said low uranium prices would "discourage any investment in new claims'" in the Bears Ears territory of Utah.
Judge dismisses federal case against Nevada rancher Bundy
U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro dismissed federal charges against Navada rancher Cliven Bundy and his sons "with prejudice," meaning the government cannot try them again for an armed standoff over cattle grazing on public land, said the Los Angeles Times. "The court finds that the universal sense of justice has been violated," said Navarro, because prosecutors failed to share evidence with the defendants.
U.S. judge declares mistrial against Bundy, new trial next year
Federal prosecutors “willfully” failed to share evidence with lawyers defending Cliven Bundy and two sons, who are on trial for an April 2014 armed standoff, ruled U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Wildlife agency suspends use of ‘cyanide bombs’ on coyotes
Wildlife Services, the branch of the USDA that controls so-called problem wildlife, will no longer use “cyanide bombs” to kill coyotes on public lands in Colorado.
Reduce two more national monuments, Zinke says in final report
Days after President Trump cut 2 million acres from a pair of national monuments in Utah, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended reductions of two additional monuments, Gold Butte and Cascade-Siskiyou, to allow “traditional use” of federal land.
Utah Representative sets his sights on Endangered Species Act
Rep. Rob Bishop, a fierce opponent of the Endangered Species Act, recently steered five bills meant to ultimately dismantle the law through the House Natural Resources Committee, which he chairs, says The Washington Post.
Dems question Trump’s authority to shrink national monuments
Two Democratic senators questioned if President Trump has the authority to slash two national monuments in Utah to 40 percent of their current size, and said the USDA did not recommend removing national forest land from them. Trump is expected to announce the new boundaries for the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments today during a visit to Salt Lake City.
Trump to slash two national monuments in Utah by 60 percent
During a visit to Utah next week, President Trump will announce that he is lopping a combined 2 million acres from the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, reducing them to 37 percent of their current size, said the Washington Post.
Cliven Bundy says ‘no thanks’ to jail release during federal trial
A federal judge in Las Vegas said Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who led a standoff with the government over cattle grazing, can be released on bond from jail during his trial on weapons and conspiracy charges.
Rural Americans want a public lands transfer because they can’t get a public-lands job
The reason Americans rarely take timber jobs in public forests isn’t because they don’t like to work hard. It’s because a combination of immigration laws, tight federal budgets and divisive politics have turned forestry jobs into little more than low-paid servitude, writes Hal Herring in FERN’s story [LINK] with High Country News.
New bill would curb size of national monuments
Rep. Rob Bishop from Utah has worked up a bill to limit new national monuments to 640 acres, with any designations larger than that requiring environmental impact statements and potentially approval from relevant state and county officials, says Deseret News. The bill is slated to come before the House Committee on Natural Resources, which Bishop chairs.
Zinke’s travel raises eyebrows
The Inspector General has launched an investigation into Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s air travel, after complaints that Zinke was using a private plane owned by an oil executive. That particular flight, from Las Vegas to Zinke’s home state of Montana, cost taxpayers $12,000, according to the Washington Post. But other taxpayer-funded flights, including one to speak at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, are also being questioned.
Former Interior Secretary Sally Jewel defends Bears Ears Monument
Former Interior Secretary Sally Jewel calls claims that public groups were kept out of the conversation during planning meetings for the Bears Ears National Monument “nonsense.” The monument was designated by President Obama during his final days in office, but current Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has recommended that the monument’s boundaries be downsized.