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By Stephen Nash
The Trump administration's decision to keep many U.S. national parks open during the current federal government shutdown, with few or no staff, spotlights how popular and how vulnerable these unique places are.
Some states, such as Utah and Arizona, have spent heavily to keep parks open rather than lose tourist revenues. Unfortunately, without rangers to enforce rules, some visitors have strewn garbage and vandalized scenic areas.
The Justice Department is looking into whether former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke lied to investigators at the Department of Interior, The Washington Post reports. Anonymous sources tell the Post that investigators at the Interior's inspector general's office raised the issue with the DOJ after suspecting Zinke may have lied during questioning over his real estate deals in Montana and his review of a Native American casino project in Connecticut.
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"Keystone XL has undergone years of extensive environmental review by federal and state regulators," TransCanada spokesman Matthew John told Omaha World-Herald. "All of these evaluations show that Keystone XL can be built safely and with minimal impact to the environment."
By Rosalyn R. LaPier
Forty years ago the U.S. Congress passed the American Indian Religious Freedom Act so that Native Americans could practice their faith freely and that access to their sacred sites would be protected. This came after a 500-year-long history of conquest and coercive conversion to Christianity had forced Native Americans from their homelands.
Cleanup is still ongoing. So far, more than 50 large dump trucks full of soil have been removed with more to come, the publication noted.
A well operated by Anadarko Minerals Inc. spilled a "substantial" amount of oil in the central region of the Fort Peck Reservation in northeast Montana, according to local media.
An estimated 600 barrels of oil and 90,000 barrels of brine (production water) leaked from the well, the Glasgow Courier reported, citing officials with the reservation's Office of Environmental Protection and the Bureau of Land Management.
By Ingrid Abramovitch
Last summer, when wildfires burned out of control in Montana and other western states, Richard M. Parrish responded the best way he knows how: by creating artwork to document the devastation. Parrish, an internationally acclaimed glass artist, ascended over the parched landscape near his studio in Bozeman, Montana, in a small propeller plane. He then used these aerial observations to create a series of fused-glass works based on topographical maps—three of which are currently on view in The Tipping Point: Artists Address Climate Change, a group exhibition at the Rockland Center for the Arts in West Nyack, New York.
Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke wants to reshape and repurpose 10 national monuments for drilling, logging and other commercial activities, but you wont see the same recommendations for existing monuments in Montana—Zinke's home state.
Notably, if the former Congressman's plans take shape, Montanans might even find themselves with a new, 130,000-acre national monument in their state.
Officials reported Wednesday that more than one million acres total have burned during Montana's fire season. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock declared a state of emergency last week, calling this "one of the worst fire seasons" in the state's history.
By Aaron Teasdale
"How much moon do we have tonight?" I yelled to my friend Greg, trying to make myself heard over the sounds of wind and surging water. The sun was sinking toward the mountains all too quickly and our float-in campsite lay somewhere down the river's bends in darkening forest.
Greg shrugged. He had no clue of the moon's cycle either, which showed just how tragically pasty and over-civilized we'd turned. Our days had become filled with computer screens, not forest scenes; our nights capped with ceilings, not stars. All of which made this journey on standup paddleboards so sweet—or at least we hoped it would be sweet, if the pesky headwind would let up before we had to risk disfiguring ourselves while navigating boulder-strewn waters by headlamp and whatever light the moon might spare.