public lands

Broken pavement on a path at Yellowstone National Park.
Jacob W. Frank / National Park Service

A bill to permanently fund conservation efforts and reduce maintenance backlogs across public lands will soon be up for a vote in the U.S. Senate.

An image of a single oil derrick situated in the open spaces and mountains of Utah.
Bureau of Land Management

A federal report out this week shows that the Bureau of Land Management has more than halved the time spent reviewing oil and gas drilling permits, a reflection of how the agency's priorities have shifted under the Trump administration.

A landscape photo with a paved road on the left side and gravel, sagebrush and hills on the right side.
Lucia Starbuck / KUNR

The Truckee Meadows Public Land Management Act, formerly known as the Washoe County Lands Bill, is back before Congress. It would allow federal land in Nevada to be sold to local government for development and conservation projects. The proposal has received support from the cities of Reno and Sparks, as well as Washoe County, but it has also faced public criticism.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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. 

New legislation introduced in the U.S. House Thursday would make it easier for conservation groups to remove cattle and sheep from federal lands. 

The Trump administration has spent the past month announcing sweeping changes that could benefit ranchers on public lands, including a proposal to overhaul grazing regulations for the first time in 25 years. 

Many ranchers are applauding President Donald Trump after he announced an overhaul of the nation’s bedrock environmental law on Thursday. 

After a long hiatus, a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s 2017 decision to rescind regulations on hydraulic fracturing on public lands is moving forward. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California is scheduled to hear oral arguments in January after prominent conservation groups, including the Sierra Club, filed suit in 2018.

On a recent sunny afternoon, I'm loading up my Subaru before heading out to the Snowy Range Mountains in southern Wyoming to cut down a Christmas tree.

A look at installations within the Nevada Test and Training Range, as seen from U.S. Highway 95 in Nevada.
Noah Glick

The U.S. military is asking Congress for control over more public land in Nevada, and much of that could come at the expense of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, the largest wildlife refuge outside of Alaska.

That has the state of Nevada, environmentalists and tribes all stepping up to condemn the proposal.

This story was supported by the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting

The Promise And Peril Of Environmental Philanthropy | A Privately-Funded Park For The People | Save The Cowboy, Stop The American Prairie Reserve | A Hunter’s Paradise | The Buffalo Is A Symbol of God

The northern Great Plains aren’t much to look at. It’s the drab, boring part of a cross-country interstate drive between Seattle and Chicago. 

No trees in sight. No water. But Sean Gerrity, founder of American Prairie Reserve, has always seen something more out here. 

Map of federal public lands in the West. BLM lands shown in yellow. The red pin marks Grand Junction, Colorado.
Headwaters Economics / headwaterseconomics.org

The Bureau of Land Management is moving more staff and—perhaps most significantly—its headquarters to the Mountain West.

Depending on who you ask, relocating the BLM’s headquarters from Washington, D.C. to Grand Junction, Colorado will make the agency more efficient, give preferential treatment to the fossil fuel industry—or even functionally dismantle it.

A checkboard pattern of public land occurs along the I-80 corridor in Nevada, dating back to the U.S. Government's decision to subsidize construction of railroads by giving companies land in this pattern.
onX

Millions of acres of public land throughout our region are inaccessible to the public. A new law in Nevada is trying to fix that.

Highlander Beer

A conservation group and a Mountain West brewery are teaming up to raise money to preserve public lands. Their idea? A new pale ale, called "Public Land Owner."

Bureau of Land Management

Much of the public lands leased for oil and gas in our region are acquired through a noncompetitive process with the Bureau of Land Management. A new report says that's not good for taxpayers.

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