Department of the Interior

Too many decisions about the West get made in Washington, D.C. At least, that's what the Secretary of the Interior thinks. Ryan Zinke plans to move thousands of the department’s employees out west to manage water, public lands and energy from there. How might this seemingly dull, bureaucratic plan affect the West in interesting ways? Here's how people with a vested interest responded–starting in Wyoming.  


VCU CNS / Flickr

An exchange between the boss of Idaho’s Hecla Mining Company and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is ringing alarm bells in some circles.

The brief interaction between Hecla Mining CEO Phillips Baker Jr. and Interior Secretary Zinke happened in October.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

The Trump administration has proposed an 11 percent decrease in funding for the Interior Department.

If approved by Congress, the Interior Department would receive $11.7 billion for fiscal year 2018. That’s more than the president had originally outlined in an earlier budget draft, but still would be a hit to department funding.

AP

President Donald Trump is donating the first three months of his salary to the National Park Service.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer handed an oversized check for $78,333.32 to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke during Monday's briefing.

The billionaire businessman turned president had promised to forgo his presidential salary. By law he must be paid, so he is donating the money. Taxpayers can write off such donations, potentially lowering their income taxes.

sage grouse, in flight, birds
Bryant Olsen / Flickr Creative Commons

Congress has failed to advance a measure that would have blocked new land-use plans meant to protect a wide-ranging Western bird, the greater sage grouse.

The sage grouse provision backed by Republican U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah had been approved in May by the House as part of a $612 billion defense policy bill.

Bishop's office said Wednesday the measure was left out of a House-Senate compromise on the defense bill.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has revealed plans to preserve habitat in 10 Western states for an imperiled ground-dwelling bird, the federal government's biggest land-planning effort to date for conservation of a single species.

The proposal announced Thursday would affect energy development. The regulations include locating oil and gas wells and power lines to avoid disrupting habitat for the greater sage grouse.

Jim Peaco | Yellowstone National Park / Flickr Creative Commons

A group of pro-wildlife organizations filed a lawsuit Wednesday against two federal agencies over animal control operations in Idaho. The suit names the USDA’s APHIS Wildlife Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The court filing alleges:

New Head Of Interior Adjusts To New Role

May 27, 2013
EarthFix

Sally Jewell’s transition from CEO of REI to head of the Interior Department in Washington D.C. has required her to make more than a few changes.  

Some of them are personal. Consider this: Unlike cool and mild Seattle where she used to live, Washington D.C. is hot and sticky. Now, Jewell is living in a row house with flower pots on the roof. And yes, theaccomplished mountaineer says, she misses the Cascades.

Whitehouse.gov screen shot

President Barack Obama has nominated the head of retail chain REI to lead the U.S. Interior Department. 
Fifty-six-year-old Sally Jewell is the chief executive at REI in Kent, Washington, and a resident of  Seattle.  

Jason Karsh 2012 / Flickr

The first payouts from a historic class-action suit against the federal government will be sent to American Indians within the week. The settlement will be split by 500,000 American Indians, including many in the Northwest.

Lead plaintiff Elouise Cobell sued the federal government 16 years ago. As treasurer of the Blackfoot Tribe in Montana, she discovered the government had mismanaged individual Indian land held in trust. A settlement was reached in 2009, but a two-year appeals process held up disbursements. Cobell died during that time.