Week in review: June 30

Fire season is here, a new wolf recovery plan and health care protester arrests.


A new plan for Mexican wolves

On Thursday the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service released an updated recovery plan for the Mexican gray wolf. Under the new plan, the wolf could be delisted when the population reaches at least 320 wolves over eight consecutive years. The agency predicts could happen in 25 to 35 years. Bad management of the species left them dangerously inbred. New Mexico has resisted introductions of new wolves, which could aid recovery. Read more: Line of descent.

Fire season is here

In Durango, Colorado, approximately 140 homes have been evacuated and many more have received pre-evacuation notices as the Lightner Creek Fire burns outside of town. As of Thursday, the fire was 20 percent contained. An intense fire season is taking shape in the Southwest; 2.5 million acres have burned across the region this year. A recent study found illegal campfires, cigarette butts and other accidental ignitions have nearly tripled the wildfire season.

Want more fire news? Check out our feature on new technology that gives researchers a view of the forces behind the unpredictable behavior of dangerous wildfire.

Groundwater deadline looms for California

Today marks a major deadline for California’s groundwater reforms, passed in 2014.The law is meant to address drastic depletion of groundwater basins in areas like the San Joaquin Valley, where pumping has caused the land to sink more than 20 feet. By June 30, the state must create groundwater sustainability agencies

FBI agent indicted over the shooting-death of Malheur occupier

Special agent W. Joseph Astarita has been charged with making false statements in relation to the January 2016 incident in which Lavoy Finicum, a key player in the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, was shot and killed in a confrontation with Oregon state police and the federal agency. Astarita allegedly lied about the fact that he fired two shots at Finicum, and missed, during the roadside confrontation. This revelation comes after 18 months of an investigation by the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office into the Finicum incident. Watch officials’ statements on the news here.

Health care protests in Colorado

This week, Congressional Republicans delayed a vote on the contentious health care act until August. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to deliver yet another revision to the legislation to the Congressional Budget Office today. Assistant Editor Paige Blankenbuehler spent time this week with a dozen protesters occupied Sen. Cory Gardner’s office refusing to leave until he votes “no” on the bill. The protesters were from ADAPT, a national program based in Colorado that organizes disability rights activists in nonviolent action. They say the bill needs to keep current Medicaid funding, which would be severely cut under the proposed bill. The group spent 50 hours in the Republican senator’s Denver office before being arrested late Thursday and charged with trespassing. Read our coverage on how the proposed plan could impact communities in the West.

The Kochs and Trump

Last weekend, donors to the Kochs’ initiatives gathered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to discuss what’s next for the network’s conservative ambitions. Vox has the story: “Washington under Trump has delivered a few wins for the ambitious, government-limiting Koch agenda — but also more than a few frustrations. Trump shows no appetite for the criminal justice reforms — meant to reduce the time and money the government spends incarcerating non-violent offenders, particularly when it comes to drug offenses — that the Kochs have increasingly championed in recent years. Under his watch, Republicans are pushing a health care bill that no one here considers true repeal of Obamacare, and which might not pass anyway.

Yes, he has appointed conservative judges. Yes, he has signed many bills rolling back regulations finalized in the dying days of the Obama administration. But he is not the president for a true Koch moment, and so, for many moments of the weekend, the people here looked hopefully beyond him.”

Did the news steamroll you this week? hcn.org is here to put you back together:

12 books expelled from Tucson schools

What ‘America First’ means for energy development

The thru-hike you’ve never heard of: Oregon Desert Trail

Clean water repeal moves forward

Opinion: The Senate health care bill guts Indian Health Services

Opinion: The difference between hunting and killing

Opinion: The Navajo Nation’s coal economy was built to be exploited

Former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio goes on trial

EPA staffers weigh in on the damage of Trump’s team

Opinion: Small towns are the place to challenge immigration policy

Opinion: As the Great Plains disappear, a path to better farming

Opinion: Giant Sequoia is a monument to why we need monuments

Plus, our brand-new print issue about America’s love affair with long-distance travel.

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