Public Lands

A (Previously) Unsung Environmental Champion

High Country News

John Podesta Is (Finally) Getting Some Credit: What Might It Mean for a President Hillary Clinton?

If you don’t read the High Country News, you should: it is a tremendously good independent source for environmental news, particularly news affecting the Intermountain West. And particularly given the collapse in a lot of good journalism, it is important to support it. HCM’s most recent issue, though, is less Wyoming and more Beltway. It […]

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The Battle to Restore Hetch Hetchy Valley Moves to the Courts

Hetch Hetchy Valley in early 1900's, Before Valley's Inundation

New Lawsuit Claims Dam and Reservoir in Yosemite National Park Violate California Constitution

This week, the longstanding battle over the dam and reservoir that have for a century flooded Yosemite National Park’s storied Hetch Hetchy Valley moves to the courts. A new lawsuit, filed by conservationists on the 177th anniversary of  John Muir’s birth, asserts that the City of San Francisco’s continued operation of O’Shaughnessy Dam and Hetch Hetchy Reservoir […]

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California Supreme Court to Decide Whether the Mining Law Preempts State Ban on Suction Dredge Mining

Court's Decision May Affect State's Ability to Regulate Activities on Federal Lands

The California Supreme Court recently accepted a case that may make it more difficult for the state to protect the environment from the damaging impacts of mining. At issue is the state’s ban on suction-dredge mining in streambeds. Californians engaged in suction-dredge mining have vigorously fought against the state’s ban, and a panel of the […]

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The Future of Conservation

Earlier this year I wrote critically about a New York Times op-ed that proposed making the restrictions on development in wilderness areas more flexible in order to allow for adaptation to climate change. This week the Times published what I think is a much more helpful op-ed on the topic of how we should address […]

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Happy Birthday, Yosemite–and California’s State Parks System

The Core of Yosemite National Park, & California's First State Park, Were Created 150 Years Ago

2014 marks the 150th anniversary of the creation of what we now know as Yosemite National Park.  It’s also the sesquicentennial anniversary of California’s State Parks System.  The two events are, in fact, inextricably related.  And how they occurred is a noteworthy and truly inspirational story. In 1864, in the midst of the Civil War, […]

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Only You

Happy birthday to the federal government’s most recognizable environmental advocate

The U.S. Forest Service is a key actor in a lot of environmental and land use policy decisions. It oversees the national forests and handles various research and conservation efforts. The Service is a common defendant in environmental suits, often as a result of its substantial permitting duties. But what USFS is best known for […]

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Rand Paul and the Environment (Take 2)

330px-Rand_Paul,_official_portrait,_112th_Congress_alternate

Guess what: he's no friend of the environment.

Yesterday I posted a confused discussion of Paul’s environmental views. (Probably due to brain lock from spending  too many hours puzzling over the numerical examples in EME Homer!) I wanted to replace it with a clearer description of his views, so I pulled it from the website.  Let’s try this again. This first thing to know about Senator Paul is […]

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Wild horses and the goals of nature protection

Feral horses at Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge, NV. (Photo by Gail Collins / USFWS)

A petition to list wild horses as endangered or threatened highlights questions about what our conservation laws should protect

  Friends of Animals and The Cloud Foundation have filed a petition seeking listing of the wild horse in the American west as an endangered or threatened species. Given that, according to the petition itself, there are currently some 34,000 wild horses on public lands in the west (with other estimates closer to 50,000), listing […]

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The Wilderness Act and climate change

Changing the Wilderness Act to respond to climate change is a terrible idea

The Wilderness Act is one of the iconic pieces of environmental legislation, and it is 50 years old this year. It created a process and management standard by which millions of acres of relatively undeveloped federal land were protected from development and most forms of active human management. These lands are to be managed, as […]

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Commemorating the Yosemite Grant Act

National Park Service historic photo collection.

150 years ago, Yosemite Valley was set aside for public use and recreation

We’re a little bit late on this one, but can’t let it pass completely unacknowledged. And actually the timing is perfect — when better to commemorate the national parks, famously called by Wallace Stegner (and later Ken Burns) “America’s best idea” then on Fourth of July weekend? 150 years ago this week, President Lincoln signed […]

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