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Cassidy Kelley / Unsplash

14 New Books About Lions, Climate Change, Green Living and Indigenous Rights

By John R. Platt

April, goes the old saying, is the cruelest month, so perhaps it should be no surprise that one of the most anticipated books being published this month is about the infamous death-by-dentist of Cecil the lion. But that's not all, and the rest isn't necessarily cruel—April will also see the publication of fantastic new books about living a zero-waste lifestyle, taking back our public lands, how fossil fuels hurt indigenous peoples and a whole lot more.

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Adventure
Blanca Peak from Ellingwood Point. SummitPost

Native American Climber Works to Restore Indigenous Names to Peaks

By Ryan Dunfee

The 14,351-foot summit of Colorado's Blanca Peak erupts 7,000 vertical feet from the pancake-flat San Luis Valley to its west and gains its incredible altitude in just six miles. From any vantage point north, west or south, the peak and the surrounding Sierra Blanca Massif groan improbably upward from the sagebrush plains. The contrast is striking. You can watch the seasons change just by following Blanca's ridges skyward until you see the high alpine blanketed with snow, which comes early in fall and stays late into summer.

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Trump Watch
Lands threatened by BLM's March 2018 sale include Hatch Point. Neal Clark / SUWA

Trump Administration Sells Oil and Gas Leases Near Utah National Monuments

The Interior Department on Tuesday is auctioning off 32 parcels of public lands in southeastern Utah for oil and gas development.

The Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) lease sale includes more than 51,000 acres of land near Bears Ears—the national monument significantly scaled back by the Trump administration last year—as well as the Hovenweep and Canyons of the Ancients monuments.

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Trump Watch
The Citadel Ruins at the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. Bob Wick / Bureau of Land Management

Drilling and Mining Interests Pushed to Shrink Utah National Monuments, Documents Reveal

Even though Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke insisted "this is not about energy," environmentalists and public lands advocates have long suspected the Trump administration's cuts to national monuments were driven by its push for more drilling, mining and other development.

Now, internal Interior Department documents obtained by the New York Times show that gaining access to the oil, natural gas and uranium deposits in Bears Ears and coal reserves in Grand Staircase-Escalante were indeed key reasons behind President Trump's drastic cuts to the two monuments in Utah.

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Trump Watch
Ryan Zinke at USDA headquarters in Washington, DC on Jan. 18, 2018. Lance Cheung / USDA / Flickr

Ryan Zinke Wins 2017 Rubber Dodo Award

Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke is the winner of the Center for Biological Diversity's 2017 Rubber Dodo award. The statue is awarded each year to the person or group who has most aggressively sought to destroy America's natural heritage or drive endangered species extinct.

"Ryan Zinke seems to wake up every day wondering how he can tear apart America's public lands, ramp up oil and gas development and put endangered species on a fast track to extinction," said Kierán Suckling, the Center for Biological Diversity's executive director.

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Science
Bears Ears National Monument. Gannon McGhee / Flickr

Rare Fossils Discovered on Lands Cut From Bears Ears National Monument

Researchers, led by paleontologist Rob Gay, have discovered what may be one of the world's richest caches of Triassic period fossils at an extensive site within the original boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument. The team's initial excavation led to the extraordinary discovery of several intact remains of crocodile-like animals called phytosaurs. The findings were publicly announced at this week's Western Association of Vertebrate Paleontologists (WAVP) annual conference where researchers warned of a growing threat to their work in the region.

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Trump Watch
Oil pumps just outside Canyonlands National Park, Utah. Mason Cummings / Wilderness Society

Public Lands Under Siege: Trump Administration Moves to Hasten Drilling, Weaken Public Input

The Interior Department is moving to expedite the leasing process for allowing oil and gas drilling on public land, according to an agency memo made public Thursday.

The memo released by the Bureau of Land Management states that it seeks to "simplify and streamline the leasing process to alleviate unnecessary impediments and burdens ... to ensure quarterly oil and gas lease sales are consistently held."

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Popular
The main gate was blocked at Saguaro National Park as part of its semi-closed status during the shutdown. NPCA / Flickr

Confusion Reigned at Semi-Shut-Down National Parks

During the government shutdown, visitors to public lands encountered locked doors, deserted parks and ambiguous instructions.

The third weekend in January kicked off with a federal government shutdown. At least some Americans went ahead with their plans to visit national parks and other public lands, perhaps heartened by Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke's imprecise (yet exhaustively publicized) plan to keep them open.

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Energy
2019-2024 National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Draft Proposed Program. U.S. Department of the Interior

Offshore Drilling Still on the Table for Florida

Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke's controversial decision to take Florida out of his proposed plan to greatly expand offshore drilling is causing clashes within the administration, according to multiple reports.

The head of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which manages offshore leasing, told a Congressional subcommittee Friday that it had "no formal decision" on Florida and that the bureau is keeping Florida in its upcoming review of offshore resources.

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