Department of Interior

LM Otero / AP Images

The struggle to save the embattled greater sage grouse — while keeping the ground-dwelling bird off the Endangered Species List — has been going on for decades. Its population has plummeted from millions of birds to less than 500,000 in recent years.

Key to the fight is identifying and attacking what’s killing the bird, a challenge complicated by the fact that the threats vary depending on the state.

Andrew Harnik / AP Images

The Trump Administration has nominated an Idaho attorney to lead the Interior Department’s legal team. Ryan Nelson has been the General Counsel at the Melaleuca Corporation for almost eight years.

The Idaho Falls-based nutritional supplements company is owned by billionaire and Republican donor Frank VanderSloot. In a statement, the CEO said “Ryan is a true patriot and I fully support his personal sacrifice in serving this country that he loves so much.”

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.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP Images

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the Interior Department was questioned by a senate committee Tuesday. Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke was pushed on several hot button land use issues -- issues he’s well acquainted with as a Montana congressman.

 

When it comes to questions about how he would manage the relationship between states and federal land managers, the greater sage grouse inevitably came up. The imperiled bird narrowly avoided landing on the Endangered Species List, but the debate over how to save the bird remains contentious.  

Richard Drew / AP Images

According to the Washington Post, Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) has been tapped to lead the Interior Department under Donald Trump. The cabinet position oversees key agencies pertinent to life in the West, including the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

The Interior Department has updated a rule that governs activities like ranching, mining and gas drilling on federal land. Obama Administration officials say they aim to simplify the process for land development, while building in more transparency and public input.

Idaho Bureau of Land Management

As President-elect Donald Trump continues to announce his picks for his administration, one cabinet position that could directly affect Idaho remains unfilled.

The Secretary of Interior oversees the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, two agencies that can be the focal point of anger from both the left and the right side of the political spectrum.

Andrew Xu / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal authorities say they've launched the first national system intended to prevent hobby drones from interfering with planes and helicopters fighting wildfires.

The U.S. Interior Department announced the kickoff of the pilot project Monday. It uses smartphone apps already on the market to quickly alert drone fliers to temporary flight restrictions over wildfires.

Department of Interior

In an address at the National Geographic Society in Washington D.C., Interior Secretary Sally Jewell stressed the need for what she characterized as a "major course correction" in conservation. Despite her location at the nation's capital, the majority of her comments were about places thousands of miles away. 

Curtesy of Ann Kennedy / USDA

Ann Kennedy’s bacterial compound is called ACK55, and it has been shown to cut the amount of cheatgrass in half in just a few years.

The Department of Agriculture soil scientist is getting closer to seeing her discovery registered with the EPA, and is giving state and federal land managers hope in the battle against the invasive weed. Once it gets approved, farmers can begin using it to treat cheatgrass on their land.

Courtesy of Ann Kennedy / USDA

It’s been called “marching grass” and “the scourge of the West,” but most people refer to it as cheatgrass. The honey-colored weed is named for its ability to “cheat” during the winter, getting ahead of crops and native perennial grasses by taking root while the others are still dormant.

Dan Dzurisin / Flickr Creative Commons

WildEarth Guardians accuses the Bureau of Land Management in Idaho of removing nearly 4 million acres from a previous plan to protect sage grouse habitat, and not being transparent about it. The environmental and wildlife advocacy group wants to see the threatened bird listed under the Endangered Species Act.

sage grouse, wildlife
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Flickr Creative Commons

In September, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is set to make a decision that many in the West have been anticipating for years. The federal agency will decide whether to list the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act, a move that many groups in states like Idaho want to avoid.

BLM Boise District

Idaho is among 12 states that will share $10 million from the Interior Department, which will be used to keep the threat of wildfire to a minimum in sensitive sage grouse habitat.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

A new rangeland fire management plan is the result of cross-state and federal collaboration that isn't often seen in resource policy. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell visited Idaho earlier this week to present the plan alongside state officials

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