conservation

Last week, the Biden administration unveiled its budget plan for managing federal public lands, and it contains big funding increases that reflect the administration's priorities around conservation and climate change.

Parts of the Mountain West are still seeing snow and frost and sleet – but there's one sure sign that spring is actually here: the songs of migrating birds. 


Daniel Gibeau, Courtesy Denizens of the Steep

Backcountry skiing has steadily become more popular in the last decade and the pandemic has heightened the popularity even more. An increase in recreationists though means wildlife are likely to experience more disturbances. In some wildlife populations, like the Grand Teton bighorn sheep herd, that has contributed to shrinking numbers and habitat size.

USFS Rocky Mountains

Two Western lawmakers have reintroduced companion bills to establish a federal conservation corps. It would invest $9 billion in a civilian workforce dedicated to public lands, part of a $40 billion package focused on conservation, restoration and rural economies.

Airman 1st Class Alexis Visser, 90th Munitions Squadron, and Senior Airman Rachel Silverberg, 90th Force Support Squadron, hike the Hidden Falls trail in Grand Teton National Park, Wyo., July 3, 2015.
U.S. Air Force photo by Lan Kim

Funding for conservation projects on land adjacent to national parks like Yellowstone and Grand Teton continues to be in short supply.

These funds cover costs for livestock depredation, building highway crossing, and purchasing or leasing conservation easements and are usually paid for by local communities and their governments as well as the federal government.

Greater Yellowstone Coaltion

A lucky young Wyomingite can win a Wyoming wildlife conservation license plate, thanks to a new state contest. A group of nonprofits have joined forces to get Wyomites to explain why wildlife conservation is important in the state.

In June of 2002, nearly half a million acres burned in the Arizona high country. At the time, the Rodeo-Chediski Fire was the largest wildfire in the state’s history. There was too much fuel in the forest, a buildup that began more than a century ago. Enough people saw the record-breaking fire and agreed that something needed to be done to prevent the next big fire.


When Joyce Farbe saw how many cars were parked at the Iron Creek Trailhead when she pulled in, she knew it would be a busy day. It was a warm, late summer morning, and her destination – Sawtooth Lake – is one of the most popular day hikes in Central Idaho. Cars were spilling out of the parking lot and lined the dirt road for a quarter mile. Farbe tightened her boot laces and pulled her backpack onto her shoulders. Before she could get going, her work began: She approached two men as they printed their name on a wilderness permit at the trailhead. 

Tim Lumley via Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

The Shoshone National Forest Travel Management plan is facing criticism just as the public comment period comes to a close.

Roy Anderson / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Denialism isn't just for climate change anymore.

A new paper published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution calls attention to "the creeping rise of extinction denial."

National Forest Service

The National Forest Service is launching a new restoration project in Medicine Bow National Forest.

National parks in the Mountain West are seeing a surge in visitors. And while tourism can spell good news for struggling local economies, some are worried not only about spikes in COVID-19 cases but also added pressure on the landscape.

The Great American Outdoors Act has passed the Senate with solid bipartisan support – but bipartisan doesn’t mean unanimous. A group of 73 voted yes while 25 voted no, including all of the senators from public land-heavy Idaho, Wyoming and Utah.


USFWS Mountain-Prairie via CC BY 2.0

Sixty-eight and a half acres of land along the Wind River front range is now protected as a conservation easement - which is a voluntary legal agreement that permanently limits uses of the land to protect its conservation values.

Mike Lockhart

Wyoming is one of the most important golden eagle habitats in North America. But the iconic raptors are facing a potential population decline due to conventional and renewable energy development and other human-caused threats.

Wyoming Department of Transportation

There are an estimated 6,000 big game animals killed by vehicle collisions each year in the state. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department and other agencies have been trying to find ways to reduce that number for years. Wyoming Public Radio's Catherine Wheeler spoke with Game and Fish's Deputy Director Angi Bruce to talk about the department's new initiative and what it means for animals and drivers in the state.

Southern Utah’s red rock desert is home to towering canyons and the clear, shallow Escalante River. It’s also home to many ancient petroglyphs. Jonathan Paklaian is trying to find one along the banks of the river. He scrambles along a cliff wall until he spots it — a petroglyph he says was drawn more than 800 years ago by the Indigenous Fremont people. 

Public Domain

Several conservation groups filed an intent to sue over a move that could result in up to 72 grizzly bears being killed in the next ten years.

Update, Jan. 15 10:11 a.m.: The Department of Interior has provided a statement, which is now included in this story.

The Trump Administration’s Interior Department has largely ignored public comment on proposed rule changes, according to an analysis from the Center for Western Priorities.

The conservation advocacy group looked at ten proposals from Interior, including the easing of offshore drilling regulations and Endangered Species Act protections. What it found was that while more than 95% of public comments were opposed to the changes, the agency still moved forward on most of them.

©TEAM Network Yasuni

Around the world camera traps snapping images of wildlife generate enormous amounts of data, and thousands of those images go unused. A new online service called Wildlife Insights is working to encourage collaboration among researchers and put that data to use in the name of conservation.

As the Mountain West grows and hunter numbers decline, states are finding ways to bring in more revenue to fund conservation.

Chris Vrba / Sheridan Community Land Trust

The Sheridan Community Land Trust (SCLT) and Sheridan Heights Ranch owner Don Roberts have entered into a voluntary conservation easement covering 476 acres of ranch land and wildlife habitat.

Plains Indian Museum Collection NA.202.94

Museums carry objects that unfortunately are not meant to last forever. Rebecca West, the curator of the Plains Indian Museum, said a Lakota sun bonnet in the Plains Indian Museum Collection represents how curators handle these pieces. 


Reintroduced legislation incentivizing more renewable energy projects on public lands is getting rare bipartisan support.

Environmental groups have halted a controversial plan to cut down 30,000 acres of forest within southern Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The Interior Board of Appeals ruled Monday that the Bureau of Land Management’s plan failed to consider its effects on migratory birds. 

Duncan Harris, Flickr Creative Commons

A collection of conservation groups announced that it will fight against a move to reduce federal regulations regarding mineral royalties. The current regulations greatly increase the amount energy companies pay to the federal government.

Joe Riis

Results of a recent poll show Wyomingites overwhelming favor protecting the state's wildlife, but support also varies between policies related to conservation.

President Trump is touting his environmental achievements this week. But some environmental advocacy groups are not impressed. 

The Center for Western Priorities just released a new study that shows the administration has been almost unanimously approving de-regulatory policy changes requested or supported by mining and drilling groups. 

The Nature Conservancy just appointed Obama’s former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell as its new interim CEO.  The leadership change comes in the wake of an investigation into sexual harassment and misconduct at the organization. Several top executives were implicated and have stepped down, including the CEO and the President.

StoryCorps

When StoryCorps came to Jackson last summer, friends Arne Jorgensen and Anne Cresswell discussed the lack of concern for affordable housing in their community.

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