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Conservation Clip List is a weekly collection of articles distributed by NACD that provides our members and partners with the latest news in what's driving conservation. If you have a relevant submission, please contact your NACD Communications Team.
House passes bill to block Obama land planning rule via The Hill
The House passed a resolution to undo an Obama administration rule for public lands that opponents say gives the federal government too much power. Members voted 234-186 to use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to strip the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) "Planning 2.0" rule from the books. BLM officials finalized the rule in December, aiming to reorganize the federal government’s land planning and management strategies. Opponents of the rule say the rule centralizes too much power within the federal government, stripping management decisions away from local leaders and landowners.
Army Approves Construction of Dakota Access Pipeline via The New York Times
The Army approved the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, set to run under the Missouri River near the reservation. It is opposed by many members of the tribe. They had objected to the pipeline’s path running so close to the source of the tribe’s drinking water, noting that any spill could poison water supplies for it and others downstream. Members of the tribe also said the pipeline would cross through sacred ancestral lands.
Former President Barack Obama created the 1.3 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument in Utah just days before he left office. A national monument designation generally means new development — like oil and gas drilling, expansion of cattle grazing — is off limits. Only the existing leases that are grandfathered in can be developed. Overturning a national monument of this size has never been done before. Only a handful of smaller historical monuments have been shut down or transferred over to state management. One thing is clear: the fight over the future of the Bears Ears National Monument extends far beyond Utah.
The new gold rush: Loggers see money growing on millions of dead trees via The Washington Post
California is in the middle of a $50 million effort to get rid of tens of thousands of dead trees that threaten roads, power lines, and homes. Loggers from across the country are flocking to the state in search of a huge payday from tree-removal companies under contract with the state and a few private firms.
Rolling Back Excessive Regulation via Agri-Pulse
(Opinion) Complicated applications and multiple data requests are particularly difficult for small and medium sized farms and ranches. They don’t have the staff that large farms or livestock operations have to handle the paperwork. It’s the farm family sitting at the kitchen table trying to sift through their files and pull together the information needed. As the Congress starts the oversight hearings in preparation for the farm bill, I hope the interest in lightening the yoke of regulation is included. Each USDA program should be examined for ways to responsibly lighten the burden of regulation and reduce the cost of doing business.
The Arizona Geological Survey is monitoring a 2-mile long crack that has opened up in the Arizona desert. Recent drone flights over the crack reveal that it has continued to grow both in length and width in Pinal County, to the southeast of Phoenix. The crack had grown significantly due to local heavy rains that enhanced erosion and collapse of the overlying sediment to reveal the underground fissure. The fissure is a surface expression of a larger open void underground, which ultimately is a result of desiccation due to aquifer drawdown from local populations and agriculture.
Wild Horses, Wilder Controversy via National Geographic
(Opinion) As of March 1, 2016, there were nearly 13,500 wild horses and burros living in feedlot-type short-term holding pens and another 31,500 living in long-term pastures. The cost for all 45,000 of these horses is approximately $50,000 per horse over its lifetime. The expense of holding all these horses has crippled the BLM’s wild horse budget to the point where it’s spending two- thirds of its entire budget, nearly $50 million in 2016, warehousing horses in short-term and long-term pastures. In addition to the financial cost, the environmental cost of transporting tens of thousands of horses and supplying feed to them is staggering.
Drought-easing California snow heaviest in 22 years via The Washington Post
California’s water managers measured the state’s vital Sierra Nevada snowpack at a drought-busting and welcome 173 percent of average. Runoff from the overall Sierra snowpack, which provides arid California with a third of its water in a good year, stood at the highest level since 1995 for this point in the year. Back-to-back-to-back storms in January that each dropped a hurricane’s worth of water have put the state at 108 percent of its normal rain and snow for the whole year. That’s with two months still left in the rainy season.
Lawmakers introduce bill to end EPA via SFGate
The Environmental Protection Agency has come under constant fire from the Trump administration, enduring both a temporary gag order — which was later partially lifted — and news that President Trump was looking to cut the agency's budget and staff. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) introduced HR 861 to get rid of the agency altogether. Gaetz said his bill to terminate the agency was meant to leave it to local governments "to protect their environmental assets in the absence of federal overreach."
Is the Endangered Species Act working? via Mother Nature Network
(Opinion) Those who distrust the ESA aren't necessarily anti-wildlife, but they often say the law goes too far, needlessly limiting activities like logging, mining, drilling, cattle grazing, and road building. Many want the U.S. to focus on protecting species, not places. Critical habitat doesn't create a wildlife refuge or special conservation area, and doesn't affect activities on private land that don't need federal funding or permits. The main effect is on federal agencies, which must consult the FWS or NMFS about any actions they perform, fund, or authorize in the habitat to make sure it's safe.
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