Ground Truth: In the News

The Roundup for February 3, 2017

The Roundup is a regular compilation of Forest Service and public land issues in the news. Click the links below to read the full story.

Stay informed. Stay engaged. Stay Vocal.

GOP Lawmaker Withdraws Bill to Transfer Federal Land—FSEEE Dispatch

Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz announced that he will withdraw a bill that called for transferring more than 3 million acres of federal land to state ownership. The Republican’s abrupt move came after a fierce public backlash, including from hunters and anglers who feared they would lose access to the land.

Former Georgia Governor Trump’s Pick for Ag Secretary—FSEEE Dispatch

Sonny Perdue, a former Georgia governor who famously led a prayer vigil for rain outside the state Capitol during a drought, is president-elect Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Agriculture, which oversees the Forest Service.

 Trump hiring freeze leaves Forest Service workers wondering about firefighting jobsMissoulian

Federal workers scrambled to interpret how President Donald Trump’s hiring freeze of civilian employees might affect seasonal firefighters and other part-time employees.

Trump administration puts gag order on Dept. of Agriculture researchersseattlepi

The Trump administration is putting a gag on the U.S. Department of Agriculture and its 2,000 scientists, with an order that forbids the public sharing of information and scientific papers produced by the USDA’s main research arm.

Poll: Trump and non-Trump voters agree on public landsReno Gazette-Journal

Respondents in western states want land protected, access for recreation, oppose increased fossil fuel development

Forest Service, Environmental Groups Settle Megaload LawsuitBoise State Public Radio

Environmental groups, the Nez Perce Tribe and the U.S. Forest Service said that they have reached a settlement in a lawsuit over huge “megaload” shipments on a scenic northwestern Idaho highway by tractor trailers.

Bennet, Gardner propose fixes to public lands issues in ColoradoThe Gazette

After the splash Utah Sen. Jason Chaffetz made when he proposed then pulled a bill to sell off 3.3 million acres of public lands in 10 Western states this week, five bills by Colorado’s senators, Democrat Michael Bennet of Denver and Republican Cory Gardner of Yuma, seem awfully local.

Feds open more sites for oil, gas leases in Wayne National ForestThe Columbus Dispatch

More of Wayne National Forest is up for auction. Federal officials have announced that oil and gas leases for nearly 1,200 acres of the forest’s Marietta Unit in southeast Ohio will be sold online in March. In December, the Bureau of Land Management netted more than $1.7 million in an auction of more than 700 acres of the forest for eventual fracking, despite protests by environmental groups.

Grazing Halted In Oregon National Forest To Study Impacts On Spotted FrogOregon Public Broadcasting

A federal judge has prohibited cattle grazing on 68,000 acres in Oregon’s Fremont-Winema National Forest until federal officials reconsider its impacts on Oregon spotted frogs.

Forest Service files two-year timeout on miningDeluth News Tribune

The U.S. Forest Service on Friday made formal its proposal to call a two-year timeout on new mining around the edges of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Enviros Challenge Land Swap in Mine DealCourthouse News Service

Environmentalists claim in court that the government inaccurately appraised federal property when it approved a land-exchange deal for the development of an open-pit, copper-nickel mine in the Superior National Forest.

Man pleads guilty to stealing tree tops from Chippewa National ForestStarTribune

A 70-year-old man from Grand Rapids, Minn., who cut and stole thousands of black spruce tree tops from the Chippewa National Forest and sold them to make Christmas decorations pleaded guilty to one count of theft of government property in U.S. District Court in St. Paul.

What will become of federal public lands under Trump?The New Yorker

On one point, however, the Trumps departed from G.O.P. dogma. Asked whether the federal government should transfer some of the six hundred and forty million acres of public land it manages to state control, Trump demurred. “I don’t like the idea because I want to keep the lands great,” he said. Trump, Jr., spoke of “refunding” public lands in order to improve maintenance, and preserving hunting access by keeping them out of private hands.