The Year in Public Lands

Public policy decisions that will impact land and water conservation in the American West.

2 minute read

December 27, 2022, 10:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

A small dam located in a rural location.

davidrh / Shutterstock

What did this year’s politics mean for public lands in the American West? Jonathan Thompson surveys recent political trends and their potential impact on conservation in the West in an article for High Country News.

The war in Ukraine has boosted demand for fossil fuels and other dormant industries like uranium mining while the federal government seeks to clean up polluted sites. “A gusher of federal funding aimed at plugging and cleaning up abandoned and orphaned oil and gas wells shone a spotlight on a pervasive and long-neglected problem. Meanwhile, the Biden administration, plagued by high gasoline prices, continued its back-and-forth approach to energy development on public lands.” The demand for “green metals,” which is growing due to the proliferation of electric vehicles, solar panels, and wind turbines, “has sparked the biggest mining rush on Western public lands since the uranium craze of the 1950s.”

Elsewhere, conservationists are celebrating the imminent removal of four dams and the possible removal of several others as federal regulators recognize the damage caused by dams to local biodiversity. But water supplies in the West’s major reservoirs continue to dwindle as states debate how to handle the deepening crisis.

More of Planetizen’s coverage of the water crisis on the Colorado River:

Thursday, December 22, 2022 in High Country News

babyt Boomer Homeowners

The Shifting Boomer Bulge: More Bad News for America’s Housing Crisis?

In the first of a two-part series, PlaceMakers’ Ben Brown interviews housing guru Arthur C. Nelson on the sweeping demographic changes complicating the housing market.

March 12, 2023 - PlaceShakers and NewsMakers

Aerial view of snowy single-family homes in suburban Long Island, New York

New York Governor Advances Housing Plan Amid Stiff Suburban Opposition

Governor Kathy Hochul’s ambitious proposal to create more housing has once again run into a brick wall of opposition in New York’s enormous suburbs, especially on Long Island. This year, however, the wall may have some cracks.

March 20, 2023 - Mark H. McNulty

Yellow on black "Expect Delays" traffic sign

A Serious Critique of Congestion Costs and Induced Vehicle Travel Impacts

Some highway advocates continue to claim that roadway expansions are justified to reduce traffic congestion. That's not what the research shows. It's time to stop obsessing over congestion and instead strive for efficient accessibility.

March 14, 2023 - Todd Litman

Pedestrian stoplight with green 'walk' silhouette lit up and blurry city buildings in background

Historically Redlined Neighborhoods Have Higher Rates of Pedestrian Deaths, Study Says

The consequences of historic redlining continue to have consequences in the present day United States. Add another example to the list.

44 minutes ago - Streetsblog USA

A toll payment facility in Florida.

Tolling All Lanes

Bay Area transportation planners are studying a radical idea to reduce traffic congestion and fund driving alternatives: tolling all lanes on a freeway. Even more radical, the plan considers tolling parallel roads.

March 21 - San Francisco Chronicle

Close-up of person holding up smartphone next to contactless fare reading device on bus

Federal SMART Grants Awarded for Transportation Safety, Equity Projects

The grant program focuses on the use of technology to improve safety, accessibility, and efficiency in transportation.

March 21 - U.S. Department Of Transportation

Planner II

City of Greenville

Planner I

City of Greenville

Rural Projects Coordinator (RARE AmeriCorps Member)

Resource Assistance for Rural Environments (RARE) AmeriCorps Program

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.