Energy and Environment

A new government watchdog report published Wednesday says taxpayers are shouldering the burden of cleaning up the nation’s thousands of abandoned hardrock mines on public lands.

An image of a dusty parcel of land showing crops completely dried out from drought.
NOAA

Researchers in our region are arguing for new models to better plan for a recent climate phenomenon: flash droughts. According to a new paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change, these events present new challenges for climate predictors.

An image of a train hauling large pipes to be used for oil and gas pipelines.
Nate Hegyi / KUER

The deadline is tonight to submit public comment on sweeping changes to one of the nation’s bedrock environmental laws.

An image showing a large, overpass made of dirt that allows widlife to cross Interstate-80 in eastern Nevada.
Nevada Department of Transportation

In today’s partisan political climate, one thing most Westerners seem to agree on is the need to protect wildlife corridors.

Wildlife corridors are historic wildlife migration routes. And sometimes, those routes need protecting. It could be as simple as restoring some native species, or it could involve building a grassy overpass over a busy highway.

A  mass of splayed, clover-like orange flowers on leafy stalks.
Neysa King / Nevada Irrigation District

Originally published on February 14, 2020 on The Hitchcock Project.

ENGLISH MEADOW, Calif. — Come spring, when the snow melts, this high mountain meadow near Truckee, Calif., will be covered in wildflowers. Bright orange-red flowers with clover-like heads will bob on the summer breeze amid green grasses. As the season unfurls, the meadows will spring up with yellow buttercups, purple larkspur, blue camas, white bistort and more.

The Bureau of Land Management’s plan to move its headquarters out west is costing the agency around half the employees asked to make the move, according to a new report from federal watchdog Government Accountability Office.


Federal lands are much better at reducing habitat loss and protecting endangered species than private lands, according to a new study out this week by researchers at Tufts University and the conservation group Defenders of Wildlife.

Wild mushroom foragers in the Mountain West may soon have a new and easy way to tell if their pickings are poisonous. 

The U.S. Forest Service is rethinking how it employs firefighters.

A close-up image of a sage grouse, a wide, chicken-like bird.
Bureau of Land Management

A federal judge in Idaho has ruled against the Trump administration’s decision to limit public input when leasing the West’s public lands to oil and gas drillers. The decision voids five oil and gas leases in three states.

An image of oil drills on public lands.
Bureau of Land Management

On the 100th anniversary of the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, the nonpartisan group Taxpayers for Common Sense published a report Tuesday calling for an increase in the royalty rate on publicly owned oil and gas.

The Bureau of Land Management is now taking public comments on newly-published information about its sage grouse management plans. The agency posted these draft supplemental environmental impact statements to the Federal Register on Friday, Feb. 21.

Ten years ago, when Colorado College first conducted the Conservation in the West Poll, 48 percent of respondents said yes, climate change is a problem requiring action. This year, that number is up to 59 percent.

A new degree program in Colorado aims to train business leaders for the fast-growing outdoor recreation industry in the Mountain West.

A nearly full moon rising over Nevada desert mountains.
WSA - CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 Bob Tregilus Photography

The US Navy wants to expand the training area for its fighter pilot school at the Naval Air Station in Fallon to four times its current size. KUNR Contributor Brian Bahouth with The Sierra Nevada Ally has the latest update on this controversial proposal.

Listen to this story here.

After congressional Democrats voted this week to give one of their own the power to subpoena the Trump administration, U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt dismissed the move as a “witch hunt.”

As part of its budget plan, the Trump administration proposes spending $150 million for a new uranium reserve. That could help struggling uranium mining companies in the Mountain West. But the idea has its critics.

 


Updated 2:24 p.m. MST 2/6/2020

In the face of ongoing litigation from tribes and conservation groups, the Trump administration has finalized plans to expand drilling, mining and grazing across southern Utah — including within the former bounds of Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments. 

President Donald Trump somewhat misrepresented his administration’s role in the expansion of domestic oil and gas production during his State of the Union address Tuesday. 

Managing Cattle To Mitigate Climate Change

Feb 4, 2020
Two horseback riders approach a herd of cattle.
Abbey Smith

Several thousand people came together in Elko over the weekend to celebrate the 36th annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Folklife aficionados came from all corners of the country; they shared music, stories and spoken word.

In addition to the lively arts scene, a group of cowboys presented on how ranchers can manage cattle to mitigate climate change.

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