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Saturday, June 15, 2024

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The Supreme Court throws out a Trump-era ban on gun bump stocks; a look at how social media algorithms and Shakespearian villains have in common; and states receive federal funding to clean up legacy mine pollution.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

Public lands in Oregon's Dark Sky Sanctuary set for BLM update

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Monday, June 10, 2024   

More than 3 million acres of public lands in southeastern Oregon are poised for enhanced management by the Bureau of Land Management.

The BLM is seeking public comment on a draft Environmental Impact Statement released last week to amend the 2003 Lakeview Resource Management Plan for Lake and Harney counties.

Renee Patrick, a small-business owner, hiker, and steward of the Oregon Desert Trail, said the area needs more TLC as a gateway to the local outback.

"Not only to recreation but to the sagebrush steppe habitat," Patrick urged. "So the ecosystem and the animals that live there and the plants -- and especially the dark night sky -- now that it's part of the dark night sky sanctuary."

The Oregon Outback International Dark Sky Sanctuary is the largest dark sky reserve in the world. The proposed plan promises to deliver management balancing wildlife conservation, watersheds and wild lands with continued multiple use of public lands.

The BLM's amendment will consider a wide range of oversight options for lands with wilderness characteristics, grazing and outdoor recreation, including off-highway vehicle use.

Karl Findling, owner of Oregon Pack Works in Bend, said Lake County is one of the fastest-warming counties in the country and is taking the brunt of climate change.

"That landscape is in some dire need of being protected and having some alternate uses," Findling argued. "So much in the desert needs an extra hand, and the federal government plays a part in that."

Findling noted Oregon's southeastern landscapes are vast and dramatic.

"They are havens for pronghorn and sage-grouse," Findling pointed out. "As we know, sage-grouse are in decline -- about 80% since I was born -- so there's some real diversity out there that also is home to bighorn sheep."

During the 90-day comment period, the BLM plans to host an in-person public meeting in Lakeview and two virtual public meetings to answer questions about the plan.

Disclosure: The Pew Charitable Trusts Environmental Group contributes to our fund for reporting on Endangered Species & Wildlife, Environment, and Public Lands/Wilderness. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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