- Will the Trump Administration Change Course on Alaska’s Pebble Mine? Key Republicans Are Rallying in OppositionAs recently as early August, the Trump Administration appeared set to green-light the long-contested mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay, home to the world’s largest sockeye salmon run. However, a letter from the Army Corps of Engineers to the Pebble Partnership, dated August 20 and obtained today, reveals that administrative support for the open-pit gold and copper mine may be unraveling.The letter noted “discharges at the mine site would cause unavoidable adverse impacts to aquatic resources,” and requested that the Pebble Partnership create and submit a mitigation plan within 90 days. Further erosion of support for the proposed mine could be forthcoming in a call today with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.President Trump himself was reportedly preparing to issue a public statement withdrawing his administration’s support for the mine. That statement could be made as early as today, say sources, as Trump begins a week of public appearances at the Republican National Convention.
- The President Just Signed a Historic Conservation Bill That Will Help Buy New Public Lands and Fix Our National ParksFor decades, the conservation community has been advocating for the full and permanent funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a program that uses royalties from offshore oil and gas operations to purchase new public lands and maintain public access. Today President Trump—who has often been criticized by conservation and public land advocates—signed a bill that will do just that.
- The Senate Is About to Pass a Bill That Will (Finally) Fund Public Lands and Ease Maintenance Backlogs in National Parks
- So why not just close them all? If there is any COVID-19 risk associated with public-land use, why not mitigate it? In short, it’s because that’s not how the management of public lands is supposed to work. Our public lands are vast and diverse, and so are the communities that rely on them. What works in one place will fail in another. Management decisions are supposed to based on the best science available, they are supposed to consider all stakeholders—especially local ones—and they are supposed to conserve the resources while also allowing access to them.
- The National Park Service is reportedly considering a request from public-health officials in neighboring Park and Gallatin counties in Montana to close Yellowstone Park. They said that by encouraging visitation to Yellowstone during the COVID-19 outbreak, the public—locals and visitors—could be endangered by inadvertent transmission of the virus.
- MAPLand Act Would Move Public Land Access into the Digital Age (and Make it Easier to Find Hunting Spots)The MAPLand Act would direct federal land management agencies to consolidate, digitize, and make publicly available recreational access information as GIS files. These records would include information about legal easements and rights-of-way across private land; year-round or seasonal closures on roads and trails, as well as restrictions on vehicle-type; boundaries of areas where special rules or prohibitions apply to hunting and shooting; and areas of public waters that are closed to watercraft or have horsepower restrictions.
- This week the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which administers the Endangered Species Act, released a secretarial order that defines how state wildlife management agencies and residents may legally harass grizzly bears, without getting sideways with the law. This being 2020, the Montana Department of Fish Wildlife & Parks announced the new rules on, you guessed it, Facebook.