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Ruins at Chaco Canyon. pedrik / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is pushing ahead with the sale of oil and gas leases on land outside of Chaco Culture National Historical Park and other sites revered by Native American tribes, The Associated Press reported.

The latest listing—which quietly appeared on the BLM website not long after the government reopened after the shutdown—comes about a year after then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke postponed a lease sale in the Greater Chaco Region in response to intense public pressure over cultural and environmental concerns.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. NPS

Hats off to Delta Air Lines. The company's charitable arm awarded the National Park Service an $83,500 grant to help reopen the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park in Atlanta from Jan. 19 through Feb. 3 in honor of Dr. King's legacy.

The Atlanta-based airline was inspired to act after learning that some of the park's sites, including Dr. King's birth home, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Fire Station No. 6 and the visitor center, were closed due to the partial government shutdown, now on its 28th day, according to LinkedIn post from Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The government shutdown has left thousands of federal employees without a paycheck, but the Trump administration is making sure energy companies can continue with plans to extract fossil fuels from public lands.

Even though the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is closed during the shutdown, agency employees organized public meetings for an environmental review for oil drilling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), according to Alaska's Energy Desk.

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The planned Liberty Project is an artificial gravel island to allow oil drilling in the Arctic. Hilcorp / BOEM

Conservation groups are suing the Trump administration to halt construction of a controversial oil production facility in Alaska's Beaufort Sea, the first offshore oil drilling development in federal Arctic waters.

Hilcorp Alaska received the green light from the Interior Department in October to build the Liberty Project, a nine-acre artificial drilling island and 5.6-mile underwater pipeline, which environmentalists warn could risk oil spills in the ecologically sensitive area, threaten Arctic communities and put local wildlife including polar bears at risk.

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Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke at Grand Canyon Nation Park on Sept. 22. U.S. Department of the Interior

From taxpayer-funded trips with his wife to shrinking national monuments for fossil fuel interests, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is one of President Trump's most scandal-ridden cabinet members.

Now, the embattled official, who is facing several federal investigations of alleged misconduct, could be on his way out.

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Ryan Zinke visits Wall Drug in Wall, South Dakota on May 25. Sherman Hogue / U.S. Dept. of the Interior

A new Trump administration protocol requires U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists to run interview requests with the Department of the Interior, its parent agency, before speaking to journalists, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The move is a departure from past media practices that allowed government scientists to quickly respond to journalists' inquiries, according to unnamed USGS employees interviewed by the Times.

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The Salado Creek Greenway in San Antonio, Texas. dq5studios / CC BY 3.0

This Saturday, the American Hiking Society is celebrating a very special National Trails Day—2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of the National Trails System Act, which created and protected some of the U.S.'s most loved scenic and historic walks.

Now, just in time for Saturday's festivities, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has announced in a Department of the Interior (DOI) press release Wednesday that he is adding 19 new recreation trails to the national network in 17 different states.

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Sow and cub polar bears in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska. Alan D. Wilson/ Nature's Pics Online / CC BY-SA 3.0

The Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management office in Alaska received a plan to conduct extensive, 3-D seismic testing in search of oil on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) this winter.

The plan—submitted by surveying services SAExploration, Inc. and its partners Arctic Slope Regional Corporation and the Kaktovik Inupiat Corporation—is the first step in opening up Alaska's pristine refuge for oil exploration and drilling, the Washington Post reported.

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Simulated flooding caused by a Category 3 hurricane striking Theodore Roosevelt Island in Washington, DC. NPS

The National Parks Service (NPS) quietly released a long-delayed report that mentions humanity's role in climate change, which officials had removed in earlier drafts.

The report, published Friday without a press release or any social media activity from the parks department or Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, shows estimates of sea level change for 118 coastal national park sites and estimates of storm surge for 79 of the sites.

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Brown bears in Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska. NPS Photo / B. Plog

The Trump administration has proposed new regulations to overturn an Obama-era rule that protects iconic predators in Alaska's national preserves.

Wildlife protection organizations condemned the move, as it would allow hunters to go to den sites to shoot wolf pups and bear cubs, lure and kill bears over bait, hunt bears with dogs and use motor boats to shoot swimming caribou. Such hunting methods were banned on federal lands in 2015 that are otherwise permitted by the state.

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Utah's Zion National Park. Jared / Flickr

As the nation observes National Park Week, the Interior Department released a report Wednesday touting that visits to national parks added $35.8 billion to the U.S. economy in 2017—a nearly $1 billion increase from the year prior—and supported 306,000 jobs.

The National Park Service said more than 330 million visitors spent $18.2 billion in the communities near the national parks last year.

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