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Rising temperatures and more frequent wildfires in Alaskan national parks could affect caribou's habitat and winter food sources. Zak Richter / NPS

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.

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Glen Canyon Dam, Colorado River. Sharon Mollerus, CC BY 2.0

By Tara Lohan

In the last few weeks of 2018, the Trump administration set the stage for a big battle over water in the new year. At stake is an important rule that defines which waters are protected under the Clean Water Act. The Trump administration seeks to roll back important protections for wetlands and waterways, which are important to drinking water and wildlife.

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Arches National Park. Chris Dodds / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

On Tuesday the Trump administration offered more than 150,000 acres of public lands for fossil-fuel extraction near some of Utah's most iconic landscapes, including Arches and Canyonlands national parks.

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Certain sandstone arches in Utah emit a steady hum. Shown here: Metate Arch in Devil's Garden, Utah. raphoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Zoe Woodcraft

The sound is like a low, steady rumble, soothing yet powerful. Imperceptible to the human ear, the hums of red rock arches in Bears Ears and Grand Staircase National Monuments carry with them the deep patterns of the earth's plates sparked by events like ocean currents colliding in the open Pacific that pump the ocean floor. On the surface, wind spilling over the arches amplifies the vibrations, giving voice to movements in the earth that began thousands of miles away.

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A man holds up a sign in protest during a Utah visit by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. George Frey / Getty Images

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke did not draw the reduced boundaries of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah to benefit a political ally, The Associated Press reported Monday.

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Native American tribes believe Bears Ears is the last of undisturbed sacred lands. Mark Stevens, CC BY-NC-SA

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.

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Twenty-nine uncontained wildfires are blazing in the Western U.S. right now, raising concerns that 2018's fire season could rival 2017's record-breaking season for devastation, The New York Times reported Monday.

The fast-moving County Fire in Northern California, which started Saturday and has burnt more than 60,000 acres of land as of late Monday, has belched smoke into the skies over San Francisco, Napa, Sonoma and San Mateo counties, National Public Radio (NPR) reported.

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VanessaC (EY) / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Sam Schipani

With rainfall at record lows, water is an increasingly precious commodity in the deserts of southern Utah. But in the driest reaches of redrock country, one long-waged water war thunders even louder than the rest.

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Jonathan Bailey

By Sam Schipani

While the Ancestral Puebloan people of the Southwest were building citadels like Chaco Canyon, the Fremont people were carving mysterious petroglyphs depicting horned, broad-shouldered triangular men and sweeping carvings of desert snakes. Nowhere is their legacy more apparent than in eastern Utah's Molen Reef. Fremont artifacts dominate this cultural heritage site, but its rock art ranges from 3,000-year-old panels from the Barrier Canyon tradition to etchings by Mormon pioneers crossing the Utah desert.

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Aerial view of the port of Oakland, CA. Robert Campbell / U.S. Army Corps of Engineers / CC BY-SA 3.0

A federal judge Tuesday struck down the city of Oakland's ban on coal shipments through a planned export terminal.

U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria ridiculed the city for violating its contract with the developer of the Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal in its 2016 ban, writing in his opinion that there is no "substantial evidence" that coal shipments "would pose a substantial health or safety danger" to Oakland residents.

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Panoramic view of Logan, Utah. Michael Gordon / CC BY 3.0

Utah's state lawmakers aren't exactly friendly to climate change legislation. Their Republican governor said in 2015 that man-made climate change is "a little debatable." In 2010, the state legislature overwhelmingly passed a resolution that implied global warming is a conspiracy and urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to stop all carbon dioxide reduction policies and programs.

But thanks to a group of fearless high schoolers, Gov. Gary Herbert reversed the 2010 measure this past March, with the support of 75 percent of Republican legislators.

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