public lands

Ali Budner / 91.5 KRCC

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.

In another shuffle of department leadership, the Bureau of Land Management has a new Deputy Director of Operations. The agency, along with the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, still await Senate-confirmed directors. 

Voices continue to mount against the Trump administration's plan to lease land for oil drilling near the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado. The Bureau of Land Management plans to lease more than 20,000 acres of land starting in early September, some of which comes within a mile of the park.

The Bureau of Land Management has presented Congress with a controversial new plan to manage wild horses.

Too many decisions about the West get made in Washington, D.C. At least, that's what the Secretary of the Interior thinks. Ryan Zinke plans to move thousands of the department’s employees out west to manage water, public lands and energy from there. How might this seemingly dull, bureaucratic plan affect the West in interesting ways? Here's how people with a vested interest responded–starting in Wyoming.  


The Bureau of Land Management plans to put up more than 20,000 acres of Colorado land for lease by oil and gas drilling companies. Much of that land sits near the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.

Patagonia

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.

Following Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke's repeated calls for more management of public lands, this spring the Bureau of Land Management is giving certain ranchers more say and options in grazing their cattle on public lands.


Matthew Allen used to lead the communications team at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Washington headquarters a couple of blocks from the White House.

Then he got demoted.

If it weren’t for the snowy alpine peaks in the background, camels would look perfectly at home in the undulating yellow sand hills of Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.

“It’s really a very special place. And it is very unusual. It’s almost like an alien landscape when you happen upon it,” says Vanessa Mazal, who has been visiting the national park since she was a kid and now works with the National Parks Conservation Association.

Life’s been tough on Chris Marchion. There was the high school football injury and the knee replacement.

“Unfortunately I got a hip that’s wore out,” he says.

We’re standing alongside a gravel road near a cow pasture. Nowadays, this is about as close as Marchion can get to the Sapphire Wilderness Study Area. It’s a clump of rolling, grey mountains in the distance.

Bob Wick / BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT

Across eight western states, voters increasingly consider themselves to be conservationists, according to a poll out Thursday from the Colorado College "State of the Rockies" Project. The survey also found that westerners largely prioritize protection of air, water and wildlife over energy development.

Bob Wick, BLM California / BLM Flickr / Creative Commons

New legislation introduced in Congress would place limitations on the Antiquities Act, originally passed in 1906, which allows the President of the United States to designate national monuments. Most recently in Colorado, the Antiquities Act was utilized to preserve Brown's Canyon in the Upper Arkansas River Valley, as well as Chimney Rock and the Canyon of the Ancients, both in southwestern Colorado.

Austin Cope / KSJD

One of the biggest trade shows in the outdoor industry is still looking for a new home after the Outdoor Industry Association decided to leave Utah after two decades. Colorado has thrown its hat in the ring as a new potential site for the event, which brings together many of the world's largest outdoor companies.

Ginger Campbell / Flickr All Creative Commons

The Bureau of Land Management Royal Gorge Office is creating a new management plan for 650,000 acres of land and resources across eastern Colorado.  The current plan is more than 20 years old.

Wyoming has become a flash point in the debate over whether hundreds of millions of acres of federal public lands should be turned over to state hands.

From Buzz Hettick's place on the edge of the windswept college town of Laramie, it's a short drive into the heart of these remote lands, vast tracts run by the federal Bureau of Land Management.

On a recent, blustery morning, Hettick was scouting out an elk hunt in the Laramie range, a patchwork of private and public BLM land north of his home.

"A lot of wildlife uses public lands," he says.

Lloyd Athearn / Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, via Facebook

The peak of another Colorado 14er may soon become public land. The Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (CFI) intends to buy three parcels of land extending over the peak of Mount Shavano near Salida. The move comes after the discovery of mining claims which means the land is currently privately owned.