Southwest rain, Endangered Species Act, school-to-prison pipeline and more. news in brief.


This month, the Obama administration proposed increasing the role states play in Endangered Species Act listings, hoping to deter or pre-empt moves from congressional Republicans to overhaul the act and reduce protections for species such as the greater sage grouse and lesser prairie chicken. Under the proposed changes, people wanting to petition the federal government to list a species would first have to send petitions to state agencies that manage that species. The state would then have 30 days to respond with data, such as population counts or comments, which would then be included with the federal petition. Today, petitioners don’t need to provide any data, and state input comes later in the process. The proposal also would seek to make the listing process more transparent.
-Elizabeth Shogren

Lesser prairie chicken in Chaves County, New Mexico, a species that could be booted off the endangered species list if changes proposed by congressional Republicans go through.
Jacob S. Spendelow/

The amount Utah-based American Lands Council — whose focus is taking back federal lands for states — collected in membership dues in 2013.

The amount of those dues that came from taxpayer-funded county commissions.

Since 2012, the American Lands Council has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to advocate and lobby for the transfer of federal lands to states. And much of that money has come from county memberships — that is, taxpayer-funded dues. “ALC comes in and offers counties this incredible-sounding deal: ‘We’ll get you these lands with minerals and timber and resources,’ ” Jessica Goad, advocacy director for conservation group Center for Western Priorities, said. “But when you pull back the curtain a bit, (the ALC) is selling an idea that is actually a waste of their time and (their) limited funds.”
-Kindra McQuillan

A rainy May drenched the Southwest this spring, on the heels of a parched winter. That deluge, depicted in the map below, is helping to keep wildfire risk at normal levels. It’s also boosting a meager water supply. But without a substantial winter snowpack, lingering effects from the longstanding drought in the region won’t disappear. For example, Lake Powell and Lake Mead are still facing dismal inflows and reservoir levels on the Rio Grande remain low.
-Cally Carswell

Click to view larger.

Amount, in millions, offered to the Lax Kw’alaam First Nation by a Malaysian energy company to put a natural gas export terminal on tribal ancestral lands in Northern British Columbia. The tribe declined because of the possible threat to its salmon fishery, even though it would have meant $260,000 for each member.
-Sarah Tory

Former HCN intern Marian Lyman Kirst has created an online photography collection, “Bugonthumb,” which she calls a “celebration of insects and arachnids, those winged and legged wisps that run the world and rule my mind.”

Mormon Cricket.
Marian Lyman Kirst

A new study finds that Native American students in Utah are disciplined far more harshly than their peers. They’re almost eight times more likely to be referred to law enforcement and more than six times more likely to be arrested than white students — a phenomenon known in education circles as the “school-to-prison pipeline.” The harshest discipline takes place in schools closest to the state’s eight reservations.
-Kate Schimel

You say

Lea Tuttle: “You’re not going to teach anyone anything by punishing them for petty things! All this is doing is hurting them — the cycle continues. These schools are still to this day discriminating against Natives.”

W. Fred Sanders: “There are obviously large social and economic problems resulting from history and the isolation on reservations. Many of these problems are not effectively different from those faced by all rural communities in the West.”


High Country News Classifieds