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DOI Is Using Coronavirus as a Smoke Screen

It appears that the Department of the Interior is utilizing the coronavirus crisis to press through questionable policy modifications that are ecologically damaging, benefit the oil and gas markets at a considerable expense to the American public, reduce both science and the general public’’ s voice, or jeopardize the security of DOI workers.

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To summarize, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt is a previous lobbyist for the farming, oil, and gas markets who has continued to operate in advantage of his previous customers in his present function. In the added to the November elections, he’’ s been accelerating his pro-industry, anti-public-lands, anti-environment program . Since Congress has the power to reverse any guideline or federal guideline within 60 legal working days of its completion, and due to the fact that it’’ s looking significantly most likely that Democrats might win the election, Bernhardt’’ s due date to attain his objectives is quickly approaching. And now, while the coronavirus takes in all attention, Bernhardt is pressing to advance a few of his most hazardous work.

““ The administration comprehends the electoral map has actually turned versus it,” ” Richard L. Revesz, a teacher of ecological law at New York University, informed The New York Times .

Here are 6 outright policies that DOI is attempting to slip through as we speak.

.Offering Oil and Gas Leases at Fire Sale Prices.

Earlier this month, Russia and Saudi Arabia started an intense war over oil costs simply as coronavirus panic struck the United States, cratering the stock exchange and crashing the rate of a barrel of crude to levels not seen in over a years. And those costs figure out lease rates.

Areas of the continental rack utilized for drilling and much of our country’’ s public lands are owned by the American public and handled on our behalf by DOI (National Forests are handled by the Department of Agriculture). Cash stemmed from oil and gas leases composed by DOI funds a range of federal programs, consisting of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

And yet, at a time when federal costs is anticipated to swell to unmatched levels, DOI has actually been utilizing those rock-bottom oil rates to compose oil and gas leases at, you thought it, rock-bottom rates , lessening profits. A lease sale for 397,285 acres of the Gulf of Mexico recently raised simply $ 93 million . That’’ s the most affordable rate spent for off-shore oil rights because 2016 .

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In southern Utah, 150,000 acres instantly surrounding to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks are anticipated to bring likewise low rates. Drilling in those locations was currently questionable due to the threat of contamination; drilling in those locations at very little monetary advantage to the general public is drawing the ire of preservation groups.

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“ The Trump administration is enabling speculators to rent public land for cents, ” Randi Spivak, Public Lands Program Director for The Center for Biological Diversity, informed the Washington Post .

. Putting Someone with a History of Opposing Worker Safety Measures in Charge of Worker Safety.

In action to the danger COVID-19 postures to DOI ’ s 70,000 workers, Secretary Bernhardt informed the Senate he prepared to utilize a pandemic action strategy composed in 2007 , which he ’d selected Deputy Secretary Katherine MacGregor to upgrade and execute it.

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MacGregor is likewise a previous lobbyist for the oil and gas markets and has actually been’linked in a number of efforts to weaken security both for employees and the general public. She ’ s been connected to efforts to bypass security issues to speed fracking allows in Oklahoma , stopped a research study of the health results of strip mining on miners, and assisted roll back security guidelines meant to safeguard employees on off-shore oil well.

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DOI ’ s unwillingness to focus on the security of its workers can currently be seen in National Parks. Bernhardt ’ s order recently to remove entryway costs at National Parks was madewith no obvious strategy to safeguard park workers from the infection .

. Closing Down Advisory Committees.

Meanwhile, Bernhardt has actually pointed out COVID-19 as the factor to closed down conferences of all of the BLM ’s 37 Resource Advisory Councils ( RAC )forever. Comprised of members of the general public, stakeholders, and topic professionals, RACs are an important tool that notifies policymaking at BLM.

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“ Advisory committees are vital to the BLM since consensus-driven suggestions frequently cause sustainable results that benefit natural deposits and frequently take pleasure in a high level of public assistance, ” checks out BLM ’ s site .

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The Union of Concerned Scientists explain’ that these conferences might quickly have actually been made virtual.

. Gutting the National Environmental Policy Act.

Bernhardt has actually participated in continuous efforts to gut National Environmental Policy Act ( NEPA). Among our country ’ s bedrock ecological laws, NEPA requireds addition of the general public ’ s voice and ecological evaluations in federal government choice making.

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The public remark duration for proposed modifications to NEPA that would enable some jobs to continue without evaluation, which would eliminate the evaluation of the effect on environment modification of a proposed task totally, ended on March 10. It ’ s anticipated that the last guideline will be composed in the coming weeks and executed prior to June. This would be catching headings throughout regular times. Now, it hardly signs up.

. Eliminating Migratory Birds.

Despite pleas from preservation groups , DOI declined to extend the general public remark duration on a brand-new guideline that will allow the oil , gas, and building markets to “ by the way ” eliminate migratory birds without charge. The guideline is an offense of the Migratory Birds Treaty Act of 1918 , another bedrock preservation law, and among masterpiece of the searching world ’ s efforts to “secure North” American wildlife. It endangers a 100-year-old contract in North America that secures waterfowl.

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Despite declining to extend that remark duration, DOI has two times asked for COVID-19-related extensions to court due dates in its legal battle over the policy.

. Privatizing National Park Campgrounds.

Since late in 2015, the Interior Department has actually been pressing to execute a lobbyist-backed strategy to privatize National Park camping sites . Criticsfear that might raise costs, which so-called“ modern-day ” features like food trucks and Wi-Fi might ruin the outdoor camping experience. Maybe most uncomfortable is that the strategy consists of suggestions for preventing ecological evaluations and other federal government “procedures , in order to speed execution within the staying months of the Trump administration, needs to the election break Republicans.

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On March 13, Secretary Bernhardt restored this strategy, sending out a letter to the White House, proposing a growth of privatized services like camping sites within national forests. In 2015 ’ s effort was thwarted by public reaction.Is the general public paying sufficient attention to press back versus the strategy today?

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Read more: outsideonline.com

State Parks Are Becoming Coronavirus Isolation Zones

On March 10, Waffle House cook and National Guard veteran Joey Camp arrived at Georgia’s Hard Labor Creek State Park. Camp had tested positive for COVID-19, but after four days in the hospital, his symptoms had abated, and he was relocated to a 26-foot RV trailer in the park for the rest of his quarantine. Camp was the first beneficiary of a novel idea being tested in Louisiana and Georgia: state parks being turned into refuges where infected patients can recover in peace.

Georgia governor Brian Kemp announced on March 9 that a one-acre section of Hard Labor Creek State Park, which is about 45 minutes east of Atlanta, would be secured as a location for “the isolation and monitoring of patients.” Camp elected to be sent to the park, because he was worried about going home, where he might infect his roommate’s infant son. He spent the next five days alone in a Jayco fifth-wheel RV, watching movies on his cell phone and dining on local takeout that was delivered to his door by state health officials. Camp was initially required to stay inside the RV, he told Outside, before being allowed to stand beneath its exterior awning. Once he was symptom-free for seven days, he was released.

“I enjoy the solitude and isolation,” Camp says. “It was just like an extended camping trip.” An avid outdoorsman, Camp says he would have been just fine had he been told to pitch a tent and sleep on the ground.

Not everyone was so sanguine. The Morgan County Citizen reported that local officials did not know about the quarantine zone until they saw the news on social media. One local circulated a petition demanding that the quarantine zone be closed so as not to expose the surrounding community to the virus. State officials emphasized the small size of the quarantine area—one acre amid a park of more than 5,800. The rest of the park remains open and is safe to visit. (Currently, there are seven RVs on-site, and one patient has arrived since Camp’s release.) 

Amid an epidemic that demands six feet of distance from fellow humans, what role should parks play? While Illinois has shuttered its entire park system and many states have closed campgrounds and lodges, some parks are promoting themselves as the perfect place for social distancing. Brandon Burris, the director of Louisiana State Parks, says that his agency’s mission—“to provide the people of the state of Louisiana opportunities to recreate in the outdoors, a place for them to go and forget about what’s going on,” as Burris paraphrased it—is more important now than it was ten days ago. “We’ve got tons of elbow room,” he says. 

Eighteen of Louisiana’s 21 parks remain open, including to campers. The other three, like Hard Labor Creek, have been designated as “overflow isolation facilities”—a polite term for quarantine zones. Two of the parks, one in central Louisiana and another in the northwestern corner of the state, near Shreveport, are currently unoccupied. But at Bayou Segnette State Park, a strip of wetlands and RV sites 20 minutes from downtown New Orleans—a city that’s a hot spot for the virus—ten patients infected with COVID-19 are staying in cabins that float atop the park’s namesake waterway (this count was as of Wednesday, according to a press conference held by governor John Bel Edwards that day). 

Nearly all of Bayou Segnette’s’s 16 cabins and 98 RV sites were occupied by vacationers when employees began to knock on doors before sunrise on March 14 to notify everyone of the need to evacuate. Despite a line of more than 50 trailers waiting to discharge waste at the dump station, the park was cleared by midday. Burris says that most campers understood the need, though not everyone was happy to leave. (The parks department has offered full refunds, among other compensatory options.) The first patients arrived the next morning. 

According to the the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services, which is managing the site, the isolation area at Bayou Segnette is intended for those who are awaiting test results for COVID-19 and cannot be sent home—either because they have no home to go to or because they live alongside other individuals with high infection risks, such as in a nursing home. Patients will be released if they test negative and, if they test positive, will be held until they are cleared by a medical professional. To secure the area, Governor Edwards said, 150 National Guardsmen have been deployed to the park.

These quarantines are, in some ways, a return to the original intent of state parks: promoting public health. Both Louisiana and Georgia launched their park agencies in the 1930s, toward the end of the Great Depression, when there was a sudden wave of park-building across the country—the Civilian Conservation Corps, a federal work-relief agency established by Frankin D. Roosevelt in 1933, helped build 800 state parks from the ground up over nine years. “This work in nature was a way of rejuvenating these young men who had been really hurt by the Great Depression,” says historian Neil Maher, who wrote Nature’s New Deal, a book about the corps. The workers were often malnourished when they arrived. One worker at Hard Labor Creek wrote in his memoir that at his first meal at the work camp, he ate enough for three men. 

“The idea of public land has always evolved,” Maher notes. Once it was just land the government was holding until it could be sold to private owners. By the end of the 19th century, sites like Yellowstone were preserved as wild but hard-to-reach retreats, largely accessible only to people with the time and means to travel. State parks “put the public in public lands,” Maher says, by establishing recreational spaces that were situated, when possible, close to cities. There the masses could escape the “grime and grit” of urban life and find a healthier space, he says. Now that proximity is helping to spark the latest—and hopefully temporary—iteration of public lands.

Read more: outsideonline.com

7 Pieces of Wool Gear We’re Saving Up For

There’s a debate among historians about when humans started wearing wool. Broadly, we know it’s been a at least a couple thousand years. Back then, and still today, we’ve loved how warm it keeps us on adventurous trips (Sir Edmund Hillary wore a wool “jumper suit” to the top of Everest), and we’ve also been enamored with how dapper wool looks when made into a button-down shirt. There are thousands of wool garments to choose from nowadays, but here are seven of our current favorites that are not only beautifully designed but also reliably made.

Taylor Stitch the Maritime Shirt ($188)

Wool(Photo: Jacob Schiller)

“Shirt” is in the name, but think about the Maritime more like your use-it-every-day shacket. At 19 ounces (think: medium-thick build, and significantly thicker than a normal shirt), the boiled lambswool blend (78-percent wool, 22-percent nylon) is as warm as an insulated midlayer and also fights off light rain or snow. I’ve worn it several days a week during this past winter, both as an overshirt on warmer days and as a layer when it was brutally cold.

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Patagonia Brodeo Beanie ($23)

Wool(Photo: Jacob Schiller)

Made from recycled wool and nylon, the Brodeo keeps your life simple. In black it’s classic and understated, and the sailor-style design looks as good with ski kit as it does with sweatpants for Sunday brunch. I pull it down over my ears on cold winter days then wear it higher on my head when I’m out camping on spring nights. 

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Shetland Woolen Company Shaggy Sweater ($96)

Wool(Photo: Jacob Schiller)

An article about wool wouldn’t be complete without mentioning a classic wool sweater.  Made from 100 percent Scottish wool from the Shetland Islands, it gets its shaggy look from a special kind of brushing, which also creates a much softer hand feel. The ribbed neck, sleeves, and hem give the Shaggy a svelte fit, and I wear mine to the office with a pair of jeans and on the ski lift as a breathable midlayer. Like most wool garments, it fights stink, so I’ve never had to wash it.

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Faribault Woolen Mill Co. Foot Soldier Defender Plaid Blanket ($150)

Wool(Photo: Jacob Schiller)

Faribault started making these blankets for American troops around the turn of the 20th century. This version is a little prettier—thanks to the plaid styling—but just as durable. I use mine over a down comforter in the winter to add a little warmth. It also makes a great camping blanket (lay it over your sleeping bag), or an emergency blanket you keep in the car. 

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Voormi Diversion Hoodie ($250)

Wool(Photo: Jacob Schiller)

This will not be the last hoodie you ever buy, but it could be the last one you buy for at least the next ten years. Made from thick 21.5-micron wool (about 1.5 times thicker than a wool shirt) that’s been reinforced with outer-facing nylon fibers, the Diversion put up with chopping wood, carrying skis on a backcountry bootpack, and still looked good while working in a coffee shop. It also has a DWR finish, so it won’t wet out when it’s dumping snow.

Men’s Women’s

Hestra Deerskin Wool Tricot Gloves ($81)

Wool(Photo: Jacob Schiller)

These gloves live in my car or my backpack at all times. The leather palm is tough enough for putting on chains or sawing wood but supple enough for riding a bike. Wool on the back lets your hands breathe, and a wool lining inside keeps your digits warm, even when it’s below freezing. The elastic cuff is also nice because it helps keep out snow, as well as wood chips, sawdust, and dirt. 

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Filson Mackinaw Wool Cruiser Jacket ($395)

Wool(Photo: Jacob Schiller)

Like the Faribault blanket, this jacket has been around since the early 1900s and survived pretty much unchanged. You can credit its longevity to a 24-ounce Mackinaw wool build (this feels like wearing a wool blanket that’s been cut into a coat) that will put up with a lifetime of abuse, fight off a downpour, and look good doing it. Broad in the shoulders and chest, the Mackinaw is designed as an outer layer and fits well over a midlayer like the Maritime shirt. 

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Read more: outsideonline.com

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