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Joshua Tree Closes Temporarily to Repair Damage Caused During Shutdown
The government shutdown, now well into its third week, has taken a major toll on many iconic national parks, which have remained open to the public but severely understaffed. Now that toll is forcing one of them—Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California—to temporarily close its gates.
"Joshua Tree National Park will temporarily close effective 8 am on Thursday, January 10, to allow park staff to address sanitation, safety and resource protection issues in the park that have arisen during the lapse in appropriations," the park announced Tuesday.
The park, which covers some 800,000 acres of land in the Mojave and Colorado deserts, has faced problems since as early as half-a-week into the shutdown. On Dec. 26, 2018, The Los Angeles Times reported that visitors were littering, starting illegal fires and stringing Christmas lights on the park's namesake Joshua trees. The park already had to close campgrounds Jan. 2 as toilets reached capacity. Now, damage done by prohibited activities is forcing the entire park's temporary closure.
"While the vast majority of those who visit Joshua Tree National Park do so in a responsible manner, there have been incidents of new roads being created by motorists and the destruction of Joshua trees in recent days that have precipitated the closure," the park wrote. "Law enforcement rangers will continue to patrol the park and enforce the closure until park staff complete the necessary cleanup and park protection measures."
The park said it would restore services in the coming days, but did not give a timetable. As per a controversial decision by the Interior Department, it will now be able to use visitor fees to help with maintenance.
Meanwhile, two California Democratic Representatives used the buildup of trash in national parks to make a point about the impacts of the government shutdown, which President Donald Trump refuses to end unless Congress allocates $5.7 billion in funding for the president's proposed border wall.
Representatives Jackie Speier and Jared Huffman collected trash at San Francisco's Lands End and Ocean Beach over the weekend, shipped three boxes worth to DC and hand-delivered them to the White House on Tuesday, McClatchyDC reported.
"Soon we'll have enough trash to build a wall, perhaps," Huffman told reporters, according to McClatchyDC.
Trump gave the first prime time Oval Office address of his presidency Tuesday night in order to mobilize public support for the wall as the second longest government shutdown in U.S. history continues, The New York Times reported.
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Tropical forests globally are being lost at a rate of 61,000 square miles a year. And despite conservation efforts, the global rate of loss is accelerating. In 2016 it reached a 15-year high, with 114,000 square miles cleared.
At the same time, many countries are pledging to restore large swaths of forests. The Bonn Challenge, a global initiative launched in 2011, calls for national commitments to restore 580,000 square miles of the world's deforested and degraded land by 2020. In 2014 the New York Declaration on Forests increased this goal to 1.35 million square miles, an area about twice the size of Alaska, by 2030.
By Cheryl Leahy
Do you think almond milk comes from a cow named Almond? Or that almonds lactate? The dairy industry thinks you do, and that's what it's telling the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
For years, the dairy industry has been flexing its lobbying muscle, pressuring states and the federal government to restrict plant-based companies from using terms like "milk" on their labels, citing consumer confusion.
By Jeremy Deaton
A driver planning to make the trek from Denver to Salt Lake City can look forward to an eight-hour trip across some of the most beautiful parts of the country, long stretches with nary a town in sight. The fastest route would take her along I-80 through southern Wyoming. For 300 miles between Laramie and Evanston, she would see, according to a rough estimate, no fewer than 40 gas stations where she could fuel up her car. But if she were driving an electric vehicle, she would see just four charging stations where she could recharge her battery.
Fire Continues at Texas Petrochemical Plant as Company's History of Violations Gets Renewed Scrutiny
By Andrea Germanos
A petrochemical plant near Houston continued to burn for a second day on Monday, raising questions about the quality and safety of the air.
The Deer Park facility is owned by Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC), which said the fire broke out at roughly 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Seven tanks are involved, the company said, and they contain naptha, xylene, "gas blend stocks" and "base oil."
"It's going to have to burn out at the tank," Ray Russell, communications officer for Channel Industries Mutual Aid, which is aiding the response effort, said at a news conference. It could take "probably two days" for that to happen, he added.
The hillsides dyed orange with poppies may look like something out of a dream, but for the Southern California town of Lake Elsinore, that dream quickly turned into a nightmare.
The town of 66,000 people was inundated with around 50,000 tourists coming to snap pictures of the golden poppies growing in Walker Canyon as part of a superbloom of wildfires caused by an unusually wet winter, BBC News reported. The visitors trampled flowers and caused hours of traffic, The Guardian reported.
A controversial pesticide test that would have resulted in the deaths of 36 beagles has been stopped, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the company behind the test announced Monday. The announcement comes less than a week after HSUS made the test public when it released the results of an investigation into animal testing at Charles River Laboratories in Michigan.
"We have immediately ended the study that was the subject of attention last week and will make every effort to rehome the animals that were part of the study," Corteva Agriscience, the agriculture division of DowDupont, said in a statement announcing its decision.