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public lands

When is the last time you’ve had a clear view of the Milky Way? Chances are you’re among the 99 percent of Americans who can’t see all that much of the night sky from where you live.

 


Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is nothing fancy when you first drive in. No towering cliffs or dramatic canyons. It’s a calm, sunny valley – 6,000 acres all totaled -- of meadow and ponderosa pine forest.

6:30 a.m. is one of the best times to watch wildlife in Yellowstone National Park’s Lamar Valley.

Everything smells like sage. It’s really cold and there are a bunch of retirees staring through hire-powered telescopes at a lush, verdant hill.

Public lands have been in the news a lot this year. They comprise much of the Mountain West, from around 30 percent of land in Montana and Colorado to more than 60 percent in Utah and Idaho. This summer, we’re taking you on a tour of some of our favorite public lands.

You may not have heard of PILT payments, but they’re pretty important for local economies in areas like the Mountain West.  The federal government gives these 'payments in lieu of taxes' to counties with federal lands that can't earn regular tax revenue.  

BLM land outside of Goblin Valley State Park in Emery County, Utah.
Claire Jones

Updated 5:40 p.m. MT 

 

A congressional subcommittee last week overstated the support that environmental groups have for a public lands bill pushed by Utah Congressman John Curtis that aims to conserve a large swath of the San Rafael Swell.

BLM land outside of Goblin Valley State Park in Emery County, Utah.
Claire Jones

A congressional panel took up legislation Thursday to protect more public land in the San Rafael Swell.

Erik Neumann / KUER

A lot of people may not have heard of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, or that it’s in jeopardy.

Andrew J. Russell/via Wikimedia Commons

The Golden Spike National Historic Site is the centerpiece of legislation making its way through Congress this week.

U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop wants to give the landmark a new designation under his bill. It would become the “Golden Spike National Historical Park,” and it would become part of a new transcontinental railroad network across the country. 

U.S. Bureau of Land Management

The Trump administration’s plans to cut red tape on environmental projects is getting predictably mixed reviews.

The Patagonia website recently took another swipe at the Trump administration over its decision to shrink national monuments in Utah. This political activism may be the new norm for the outdoor recreation industry.

The omnibus spending bill passed by Congress last month earmarked billions of dollars for fighting wildfires.  Many conservationists and politicians celebrated that change.

But the legislation also rolls rolls back some environmental protections and that has split the conservation community.

Austen Diamond / KUER

A bill encouraging that the creation of national monuments in Utah be decided by Congress, instead of the President, cleared the legislature on Thursday.

Julia Ritchey / KUER

Bipartisan measures aimed at making sure the state is getting its fair share from the federal government sailed through the Legislature this week.

Judy Fahys/KUER News

US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke attacked critics of the Trump administration’s decision to shrink two national monuments in Utah. He called them “angry people” and “nefarious.”

istock

The first Outdoor Retailer Show opens Thursday to a jam-packed Colorado Convention Center in Denver. Its new home follows a major falling out between outdoor industry groups and the state of Utah, including Utah Governor Gary Herbert.

"Colorado Calling" Screenshot/Elevation Outdoors

Black Diamond founder Peter Metcalf helped make Utah a hub for outdoor-recreation businesses and lured the industry’s big trade show to Salt Lake City. This year, the trade show’s relocated to Colorado where public-lands politics are more in line with the industry’s.

National Park Service

They felt like the Interior Department had snubbed their valuable work, so most members of the National Park System Advisory Board resigned last week.

GAGE SKIDMORE VIA CC/FLICKR, HTTP://BIT.LY/1KENCG4

 

 

A federal judge has thrown out charges in the case against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy. He was at the center of a 2014 armed standoff with federal law enforcement over grazing on federal land. The outcome has some wondering if the fallout will include similar confrontations in the future.

Whittney Evans/KUER

Disputes over Native American territory are an ongoing struggle in Utah. The city of Myton, in Duchesne County, is ground zero in such a dispute.

Ken Lund/Flickr Creative Commons

A federal lands agency wants to sell more than three dozen oil and gas leases, and environmental groups are protesting because some potential drilling sites lie just outside protected areas.

Howard Berkes, Kelsie Moore, Julia Ritchey / NPR / KUER

A year ago today, President Barack Obama created the Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah. The story's taken twists and turns all year. A few weeks ago, President Trump lopped off more than a million acres from the monument. Now there's a flurry of legal challenges. KUER shares some of the voices that have defined the ongoing monument fight. 

Judy Fahys/KUER

Opposition seems to be growing against plans for raising entrance fees at some national parks, and some critics in Utah want the National Park Service to reconsider.

KUER

During his first official trip to Utah, President Donald Trump announced the largest cutback to national monument land in U.S. history. Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante will lose a total of 2 million acres together. While Trump made the announcement in Salt Lake City, KUER's Judy Fahys was in San Juan County talking with Utahns who will be most affected by the change.

Link to original story: http://kuer.org/post/public-lands-emotions-shift-southern-utah-along-national-monument-boundaries

Kelsie Moore / KUER

Thousands of protesters fired up by President Donald Trump's expected announcement to shrink two national monuments in Utah rallied in Salt Lake City on Saturday. Click photo for a gallery by RadioWest's Kelsie Moore.

Judy Fahys / KUER

President Donald Trump told Utah lawmakers recently that the Bear’s Ears National Monument - designated in the waning days of the Obama administration - would be downsized.  

Judy Fahys / KUER

10/24/17 9:43 a.m. -- There's more information today on this story. See the end of this post.  

A federal appeals court on Monday affirmed the convictions of two men who organized an ATV protest into closed parts of Recapture Canyon.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

Jonathan Till was examining some new donations - a basket, a ladle, a flute and clay pots - back when I met him last year.

Department of Interior

New information emerged over the weekend on the advice Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is giving president Donald Trump on two national monuments in Utah.

Judy Fahys / KUER News

San Juan County leaders have been asking for over a decade for more access into Recapture Canyon just east of Blanding. On Monday, federal land managers gave them an answer, when U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke weighed in.

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