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The headquarters of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Ken Lund / CC BY-SA 2.0

President Donald Trump released his budget for fiscal year 2020 on Monday, to a general outcry from environmental groups who say it underfunds key programs and agencies.

EcoWatch has already reported on its biggest ask — $8.6 billion in funding for a border wall that would threaten borderland wildlife and communities — but the budget has been equally criticized for what it would cut, including a 31 percent decrease in funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a nine to 14 percent decrease for the Department of the Interior (DOI).

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Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy / Stone / Getty Images

By Sam Nickerson

Having access to green spaces such as parks and forests as a child may be beneficial to your mental health later in life, new research out of Aarhus University in Denmark suggests.

According to a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States of America, Danish children who grew up with less greenery nearby from birth to age 10 were as much as 55 percent more at risk of developing a mental disorder later in life. Moreover, the researchers found that the risks actually decreased the longer children spent living close to nature — regardless of whether they lived in urban or rural areas.

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Canyonlands National Park, Utah. Jerome Gorin / PhotoAlto Agency RF Collections / Getty Images

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 363-62 to pass the Natural Resources Management Act Tuesday, which means the biggest public lands bill in more than a decade has now passed both houses of Congress with bipartisan support.

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Visitors to the Grand Canyon may have been exposed to unsafe radiation levels, for almost two decades. George Rose / Getty Images

Grand Canyon visitors and employees who passed through the national park's museum collection building were exposed to radiation for nearly two decades, AZCentral reported Monday.

That's because, until last year, three five-gallon paint buckets filled with uranium ore were stored in the building, according to a Feb. 4 email sent out to all National Park Service employees by Grand Canyon safety, health and wellness manager Elston "Swede" Stephenson.

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The Grand Canyon celebrates its 100th birthday as a national park this month, but it just earned itself a protector who is even older!

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Pexels

Today, the U.S. celebrates Presidents Day, a day to commemorate the leadership and legacy of the so-far only men who have governed the country since its founding.

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Death Valley National Park ranger and a group of students. The new bill codifies an Obama-era act that allows students and their families to visit national parks for free. NPS / Kurt and Edwige Moses

In a rare bipartisan push, the U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of a major public lands package on Tuesday.

The Natural Resources Management Act, approved 92-8, establishes 1.3 million acres of new wilderness, adds 694,000 acres of new recreation and conservation areas, creates four new national monuments, among other important conservation measures, according to Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), who introduced the bill with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

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Donald Trump, Mike Pence and acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt in Washington, DC on Jan. 21. MANDEL NGAN / AFP / Getty Images

President Donald Trump officially nominated David Bernhardt—a former energy lobbyist environmental groups have described as a "walking conflict of interest"—to officially take over as interior secretary after Ryan Zinke stepped down in December 2018 following various scandals.

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A herd of elephant seals are seen along the Drakes Beach, which was closed during partial federal government shutdown, in Drakes Beach, California, U.S., in this recent photo released on Jan. 30. Point Reyes National Seashore / NPS

The government shutdown came to at least a temporary end Jan. 25, but one California beach is still dealing with its unexpected consequences. The popular Drakes Beach, part of the Point Reyes National Seashore, is now closed to human visitors after being overrun by elephant seals.

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Sign placed by volunteers at the Joshua Tree National Park in California on Jan. 3 after the federal government's partial shutdown. MARK RALSTON / AFP / Getty Images

By Miranda Fox

The impacts of the government shutdown on the nation's national parks have been widely reported: overflowing bathrooms, decimated habitat and widespread litter resulted in parks that remained open without staff oversight and management. In response, individuals, organizations and corporations have volunteered to help out with the clean-up. One of these is Nestlé Waters North America, which released this statement last week:

"At Nestlé Waters North America, we believe that even one bottle or can that is not recycled properly is one too many. When we heard about the need in our national parks, we wanted to help."

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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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