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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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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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Arizona lost out on $27 million of revenue during the 2013 government shutdown, with the Grand Canyon alone amounting for $17 million of it. Anna Irene / Flickr

National Parks, Monuments May Remain Open But Unstaffed if Government Shuts Down

You might want to reconsider your plans if you intend to visit a national park this weekend. While the park might be open, there probably won't be any rangers on site, which could pose a serious risk to safety.

The Trump administration is reportedly planning to keep many national parks and monuments open if the government shuts down on Friday, the Washington Post reported. The move is meant to avoid the public outrage sparked by the closure of parks and memorials during the 2013 shutdown.

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Ryan Zinke. Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Majority of National Parks Panel Quits in Protest of Ryan Zinke

Nearly all members of the National Park Service advisory panel abruptly quit on Monday in protest of the Trump administration's policies, which they say have neglected science, climate change and environmental protections.

"From all of the events of this past year I have a profound concern that the mission of stewardship, protection, and advancement of our National Parks has been set aside," the head of the panel, Tony Knowles, wrote in a letter of resignation addressed to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who oversees management of the country's national parks and monuments.

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NOAA

2017 Year in Review

As we look back on the most noteworthy environmental stories of 2017, one cannot help but start with the extreme weather that has caused so much destruction to so many around the globe. And with that, the year brought heightened concern for protecting our planet with focused attention on issues like renewable energy, electric vehicles and plastic pollution. And while 2017 was also marked by challenges with the U.S. pulling out of the Paris agreement and making other questionable environmental policy changes, we all enter a new year with the ability to make positive change.

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The famous Wahweap Hoodoos at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument are no longer protected as a national monument. Mark Stacey / NOAA

New Grand Staircase-Escalante Proposal Would Further Harm the Region

By John Gilroy

Just a day after President Donald Trump significantly diminished the boundaries of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) introduced legislation that would reduce the protections on this unique landscape even further.

The Grand Staircase-Escalante Enhancement Act (H.R. 4558) mirrors President Trump's proclamation by creating three smaller national monuments and one national park that together would preserve roughly 60 percent of the landscape that has been safeguarded by the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument since its inception in 1996.

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MUST-SEE VIDEO: 5 Threats Today to Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante After Trump's Decision

While we fight to defeat President Trump's attacks on Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, these are some of the real, on-the-ground threats we must keep at bay.

Following the lead of Native American tribes, The Wilderness Society and other groups have filed lawsuits against President Trump for violating the Antiquities Act when he essentially eliminated Bears Ears and greatly reduced Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.

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