Friday, January 21, 2022

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Despite a failed attempt in the U.S. Senate, more than 200 business owners call for federal reforms to strengthen election laws, and the U.S. Supreme Court deals another blow to abortion providers.

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President Biden gets cheers and jeers as he marks his first year in the White House, the Jan. 6 committee wants to hear from Ivanka Trump, and the Supreme Court rejects another challenge to the Texas abortion law.

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Expanded broadband akin to electrification in rural America 80 years ago; small Wyoming grocery store survives monopolization; revitalized Kansas town gets national recognition; and Montana's Native communities look for voter suppression work-arounds.

Conservation Groups Celebrate New Program to Fund Desert Restoration

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Friday, October 1, 2021   

JOSHUA TREE, Calif. -- Projects to protect the Mojave and Colorado Deserts stand to get a lot more funding, as Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill creating the California Desert Conservation Program.

The program is not yet funded, but the money should come with the 2022 budget cycle.

Cody Hanford, deputy executive director of the Mojave Desert Land Trust, said he would like the state to purchase parcels of private land that connect large tracts of public land.

"The top priority would be acquisitions of private land inside habitat linkages," Hanford explained. "By preserving these linkages, that enables the desert to remain intact and species to flow as needed. "

The Southern California desert is a big hit with tourists, attracting $7.6 billion in spending in 2018, which supports 78,000 jobs. The program would funnel money to tribes, nonprofits and local government agencies to restore desert habitat, fight climate change and improve recreational access.

Brenda Gallegos, conservation program associate for the Hispanic Access Foundation, said the projects will make access to nature more equitable.

"One third of every community of color is nature-deprived," Gallegos pointed out. "This will actually increase that access to nature for all of our communities of color in the area."

Janessa Goldbeck, California director of the VetVoice Foundation, said her group was an original co-sponsor of the bill.

"We believe strongly that protecting our public lands is a patriotic duty," Goldbeck contended. "Veterans and military families use public lands to reconnect after they are deployed."

The program also will fund efforts to remove nonnative plant species such as cheatgrass, because they create fuel for wildfires.


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