public lands

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. 

Cooper McKim

Several dogs pat happily through snow-packed grass on Red Canyon Ranch in central Wyoming. It's backed by rolling hills and grazing cows. Maggie Eshleman, a Nature Conservancy restoration scientists, jumps out of her truck. She's interested in Red Canyon because of something that happened here nearly 20 years ago.

The Mountain West is home to huge swaths of public land. A new web-based tool is now showing people exactly where that land is and which agency is managing it.

Top politicians are in Vail, Colorado, this week for the annual meeting of the Western Governors Association.

Protesters dressed as swamp creatures kayaked down a river while others marched along a bike path, past private tennis courts and swanky swimming pools outside the hotel where governors met with Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.

“My shirt says keep your oily hands off of Colorado's public lands,” says Chelsea Stencel, who was among the protesters. “David Bernhardt, the ultimate swamp monster.”

U.S. Department of the Interior

The Bureau of Land Management's Casper Field Office will reanalyze a portion of its environmental assessment of the Sand Creek oil and gas project after challenges from two environmental groups. It agreed with the Western Watersheds Project (WWP) and Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) that additional analysis of greenhouse gas emissions was warranted

Public lands are a haven for target shooting throughout our region. However, many are leaving bullet casings and litter behind, and that's a problem.

Litter from so-called "trigger trash" is leading to lead contamination of soil and costing taxpayers thousand of dollars in cleanup.

Kurt Miers is with the Bureau of Land Management in Nevada. He says this issue is common throughout the region, particularly in areas just outside of cities.

The law that governs today’s hardrock mines on public lands in the West is nearly 150 years old. New legislation this week from House Democrats would enact significant reforms. 

No new oil and gas leases. No more shrinking monuments. Free entrance to national parks.

Colorado residents Rose Chilcoat and her husband, Mark Franklin, were leaving southeastern Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument after a camping trip in April 2017 when they were pulled over by three cowboys in a pickup truck.

An environmental group is launching a campaign to defend the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals which has been a target for President Trump. The court hears some of the most important environmental and other cases in our region.

BLM

The Trump administration is reducing grazing fees on public lands again. The new rate is the lowest the federal law allows.

National Parks and public lands in the West are having trouble with cactus poachers. But some park rangers are fighting back by micro-chipping their cacti.

lwcfcoalition.com

This week the U.S. Senate passed a sweeping and historic bill that would make the Land and Water Conservation Fund permanent. A feat many hunters and fisherman, along with environmentalists, had thought was impossible after the GOP allowed it to lapse last year.

The 2019 State of the Rockies report says 70 percent of western voters identify as "outdoor enthusiasts." The annual bipartisan poll surveys how voters across the Mountain West feel about public lands, water, wildlife, and energy expansion. 

As one of his last acts in office, ousted Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke signed off on returning grazing rights to the eastern Oregon ranchers whose prison sentence led to a 2016 standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

 


Funding for one of the Mountain West's key environmental protection programs is on hold until after the holidays. 

Derived from Park County Road Plat, Park County Public Works Department

Sportsmen and women have to be really careful to make sure they are not trespassing on public land. A new report finds that Wyoming has the most landlocked public land in the West at 3.05 million acres. A recent decision by Park County Commissioners could have added another 160.

Flickr Creative Commons/carfull...in Wyoming

A bill that would lift wilderness study status on lands in Bighorn, Lincoln and Sweetwater counties in Wyoming passed through a Congressional committee with a 19 to 11 vote along party lines. Dozens of these wilderness study areas around the state have been stuck in limbo for decades.

A new study says when the Trump administration shrank Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in Utah late last year, it may have endangered scores of native bee species.

Bob Wick / Bureau of Land Management

Our region is known for its abundant public land and the backcountry enthusiasts that prize it. But a lot of that land is out of reach to the public.

According to a new report, 9.5 million acres of public land in the West is inaccessible because it is surrounded by private land. The largest swaths of landlocked public acres are in Wyoming, Montana, and Nevada.

Cyanide bombs largely targeting nuisance predators like coyotes can stay on public lands – for now.


Congressman Raúl Grijalva and Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, recently locked horns in a bitter and very public war of accusations. Grijalva called on Zinke to resign in light of several ethics investigations and Zinke in turn took to Twitter to personally attack the Arizona Congressman. Grijalva is set to take over the chairmanship of the House Committee on Natural Resources, the committee that oversees Zinke’s Department and makes critical decisions about public lands, energy and the environment. And it turns out Raúl Grijalva's plans for the committee are quite different from his Republican predecessor.

Cooper McKim

An 18-wheeler spins its tires through snowy mud on an undeveloped well-pad in the Powder River Basin. In the bitter morning cold, workers in black overalls and face masks move gravel where oil tanks will soon stand.

Bob Wick / Bureau of Land Management

Public lands advocates across the Mountain West are calling Tuesday's midterm election a big win for conservation. Several races in the region favored candidates with strong public lands platforms.

Erik Molvar

In 2014, the Wyoming Public Lands Initiative assembled committees in eight counties with wilderness study areas, in hopes of getting consensus on how to manage those lands going forward, but three counties have now opted out. Lincoln, Bighorn and Sweetwater Counties are joining a bill recently introduced in Congress by U.S. Representative Liz Cheney that would lift protections on wilderness study areas without getting buy-in from local stakeholders.

Pilot Hill Land Purchase

Community organizers are progressing on an effort to raise money to buy a mountainside east of Laramie known as Pilot Hill. The hope is to turn it into a state park that connects the city of Laramie to trails in the Laramie Range, and will also protect the city’s aquifer from future development.

The Modern West 39: The Fight For Land Conservation

Oct 16, 2018
Public Lands in Wyoming
Bob Wick, BLM / Bureau of Land Management

Are public lands meant to be used or protected?

Bob Wick / wyomingoutdoorcouncil.org

A recent study shows that BLM-managed lands produced $3 billion in revenue. The study called “Quantifying the Economic Contributions of Wildlife-Related Recreation on BLM Lands,” took into account twelve western states including Wyoming in 2016. Outdoor activities provide 27-hundred jobs that pay workers $88 million a year and retail sales produce even more: $331 million a year. 

An important but little-known public lands fund expired this weekend. 

Pages