Week in review: March 16

A leader for the BLM, disappearances on public lands and bison’s origin story: HCN staff’s reading recommendations.


On Thursday, the White House released its budget plan, which included deep cuts at the Environmental Protection Agency and others, as expected. Stay tuned next week for analysis of its repercussions out West. In the meantime:

Public lands mystery

Engagement director Gretchen King recommends reading “How 1,600 People Went Missing from Our Public Lands Without a Trace” from Outside Magazine. She says: “This story is a fascinating look at the number of people who go missing on our federal public lands, what can happen when they do and what resources are (or aren’t) put into finding them. Plus, there’s talk of Occam’s razor and intrigue near an unknown national park where two rangers claimed ‘something strange was going on with the number of people missing.’”

Grizzlies & The Oatmeal

Last week, Matthew Inman, founder of the beloved comics site The Oatmeal, asked for readers to send in comments supporting the reintroduction of grizzlies to the North Cascades.

The public comment period has been extended through April 28Brush up on what’s planned for the bears in Washington.

A leader for the BLM

In a press release, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke named an interim head of the Bureau of Land Management: Mike Nedd, a career BLM employee who previously held position of Assistant Director for Energy, Minerals, and Realty Management. In 2015, DC correspondent Elizabeth Shogren interviewed him about the BLM’s renewables program, which he oversaw. A bit more on him here.

In the same press release, Zinke announced the approval of a $22 million lease in Utah. The environmental review for the lease was completed prior to the coal leasing moratorium former President Barack Obama implemented last year; as a result, this lease does not end that moratorium.

How bison came to America

The original extent of plains bison (Bison bison bison) and wood bison (Bison bison athabascae) in North America, based on available zooarchaeological, paleontological, oral and written historical accounts.

Deputy Editor-Digital Kate Schimel recommends this fascinating paper on how bison got to North America. Turns out, they likely crossed the Bering Land Bridge during an ice age between 130,000 and 195,000 years ago and acted a whole lot like an invasive species might, even though they weren’t brought over by humans: “Bison arrived in North America and quickly came to dominate a grazing ecosystem that was previously reigned over by horses and mammoths for one million years,” Professor Beth Shapiro of the UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute says. Want to read more on the genetics of the modern-day bison? Check out this story from 2006 on rebuilding herds of bison, without cattle genes.

Dreamer detained

A 24-year-old undocumented Mexican man who was arrested last month in Seattle remains in custody. According to Crosscut, Daniel Ramirez Medina, who arrived in California when he was seven, was among the 800,000 beneficiaries of the 2012 Executive Order by President Obama called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Despite Medina’s clean record, the government alleges he is a gang member. “His arrest marks the first time a DREAMer, as DACA recipients are called, has been detained for being undocumented,” Crosscut writes. During the election, undocumented youth were an unlikely force in registering eligible Latino voters in the West, as we reported in the fall.

Oofda. Need a bit of fun after all that? Try your hand at this:

Correction: An earlier version of this roundup said the lease in Utah brought the Obama-era moratorium to an end. As a sharp-eyed reader pointed out, it was exempted from the moratorium. The story has also been updated, as the public comment period on North Cascades grizzly has been extended.

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