America "Ceding Its Leadership" On Land Conservation

Dec 6, 2018
Originally published on December 6, 2018 3:21 pm

After more than a century at the forefront on public lands protections, a new report finds the U.S. is being edged out by its neighbors to the north and the south.

“The U.S. is actually kind of ceding its leadership role when it comes to conservation,” says Ryan Richards, a senior analyst who authored the report for the left-leaning Center for American Progress.

It’s been a year since the Trump administration cut the size of Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears national monuments in Utah.

Late last year, Congress also opened part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling.

In total the report says more than three million acres lost protection. 

Meanwhile, Richards says Mexico now has more protected land than the U.S. and Canada is close behind.

“What’s really concerning is the U.S. has leveled off and actually shown that we’ve taken a step backwards in the past year and a half or so,” he says.

An Interior Department spokeswoman says her agency has acquired “thousands and thousands” of new acres since 2017 – mostly overseen by the Bureau of Land Management – and suggested submitting a public records request to get more details.  

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Copyright 2018 Boise State Public Radio

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