Land
Yellowstone and Grand Canyon Re-Open – But Can Public Parks Safely Meet Increasing Users?

Yellowstone and Grand Canyon Re-Open – But Can Public Parks Safely Meet Increasing Users?

More of the most famous and most visited National Parks are beginning to re-open as summer tourist season looms, but they will open sections of the parks in phases, with concessions and other public spaces also re-opening within the open areas, but there is no requirement for visitors to wear masks and practice social distancing.

Why This Matters: What the pandemic and social distancing requirements are revealing is that many communities do not have enough park and open space — both large cities and suburbs.

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National Parks To Re-Open in Stages Starting This Week Despite Concerns

National Parks To Re-Open in Stages Starting This Week Despite Concerns

The National Park Service announced late last week that they would allow some parks to increase access and services in phases on a case by case basis (similar to their closure).  They said they would be “following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state and local public health authorities,” […]

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Court Voids 287 Oil and Gas Leases  in Montana

Court Voids 287 Oil and Gas Leases in Montana

Cutting corners is the Trump Administration’s calling card — and oops, they did it again — and as a result, a federal judge late last week threw out hundreds of oil and gas leases covering nearly 150,000 acres of federal land in Montana.

Why This Matters:  What can we say.  It’s good that they are so bad at being awful.

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New Investigation Shows Pipelines Always Get Their Way With FERC

New Investigation Shows Pipelines Always Get Their Way With FERC

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) sides with pipeline companies over private landowners in 99% of the cases when landowners refuse to grant a company permission to bury a pipeline on their land.  

Why This Matters:  The FERC’s stilted process may soon end. In addition to Congressional oversight, a federal appeals court is considering whether to disallow FERC from blocking landowners taking their cases to court right away, before ground is broken.

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California Officials Recommend Endangerment Listing for Joshua Trees

California Officials Recommend Endangerment Listing for Joshua Trees

Joshua trees have lived in the Mojave desert for 2.5m years yet their demise might come at the hands of humans. Last year, a study found that even in a best-case scenario, with major efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, 80% of the trees’ habitat will be whittled away. It’s for this reason that after decades […]

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Park Service Closes Shenandoah National Park But Some DC Monuments Remain Open

Park Service Closes Shenandoah National Park But Some DC Monuments Remain Open

The National Park Service continues to close parks on a piecemeal basis, this week Shenandoah National Park closed, but even after an appeal from D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) to close them before the weekend crowds descend, the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials in Washington, D.C. remain open.

Why This Matters:  Delegate Holmes Norton is right when she argues that “Federal agencies must do their part to flatten the curve,” but the Park Service is certainly not leading by example. 

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The Blue Ridge Parkway:  Built by the CCC and Now Protected By the Land & Water Conservation Fund

The Blue Ridge Parkway: Built by the CCC and Now Protected By the Land & Water Conservation Fund

The Blue Ridge Parkway — first conceived in 1933 to connect Skyline Drive to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park — is a feast for the eyes, designed by landscape architects specifically to showcase a variety of vistas and views.  But preserving them requires conserving parcels along the boundaries of the Park, which, as This […]

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A Major Victory for Indigenous Rights Against the Dakota Access Pipeline

A Major Victory for Indigenous Rights Against the Dakota Access Pipeline

A federal judge on Wednesday said the cursory environmental review for the Dakota Access Pipeline was fatally flawed and ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has to conduct a full environmental impact assessment – the court is still considering whether to halt operations in the interim.

Why This Matters: The 1,000 mile Dakota Access Pipeline “carries crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois” with “nearly 500,000 barrels of oil” being transported each day through the pipeline.

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Visitors Surging To National Parks, Forcing More To Close Due to Coronavirus Concerns

Visitors Surging To National Parks, Forcing More To Close Due to Coronavirus Concerns

Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Smoky Mountains National Parks closed on Tuesday due to coronavirus concerns, joining Yosemite National Park, the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island because of concerns of crowding in public spaces leading to spread of the disease. 

Why This Matters:  As is true with so much of the Trump Administration’s attitude toward containing the spread of the virus, they have left each Park to decide on its own, causing confusion and sending mixed signals to the public and leaving local officials struggling to respond.

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PG&E Enters Guilty Plea For Starting 2018 CA Fires, Will Pay Out $13.5 B to Victims

PG&E Enters Guilty Plea For Starting 2018 CA Fires, Will Pay Out $13.5 B to Victims

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has agreed to plead guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of unlawfully starting the Camp Fire, according to court documents filed in California on Monday, CNN reported and the company has said it will not appeal. 

Why This Matters:  California and the company agreed to financial terms last Friday under which PG&E agreed to overhaul their board of directors, and now the legal settlement is done as well.

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Midwestern States Struggling to Recover From Floods, Left Vulnerable to Coronavirus

Midwestern States Struggling to Recover From Floods, Left Vulnerable to Coronavirus

by Zoey Shipley and Miro Korenha    In Spring 2019, much of the Midwest was hit with devastating floods. Nebraska alone was faced with over $1 billion in damages to roads, local businesses, crops, and levees. Natural disasters like this have contributed to the crumbling of the rural economy and lack of investment in these […]

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Staying Safely Connected To Nature During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Staying Safely Connected To Nature During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Florida is (finally) closing its beaches. The National Park Service has waived all park entrance fees but closed some parks and most of the facilities in the parks that remain open (check each park’s web site for more details) — they are taking “extraordinary steps to implement the latest guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), and local and state authorities to promote social distancing.” 

Why This Matters:  It is spring break for many people across the country and the warming weather may make outdoor activities tempting, but unless we maintain our distances we won’t flatten the curve of exposure.

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