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The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee is seeking answers from an environmental activist group on alleged human rights abuses that include torture, sexual assault, and extrajudicial killings in their campaign to combat wildlife poaching. Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Ranking Republican Rob Bishop (R-Utah) sent a letter to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) requesting documents about how the group operates after a Buzzfeed News story revealed that WWF “funds guards who have tortured and killed people.”

The Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act received overwhelming bi-partisan support yesterday during a hearing held by the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee. The bill, aimed at reducing the National Park System’s deferred maintenance backlog, was approved by the panel on vote of 36-2 and may head to the House floor soon where its already racked more than 290 Democratic and Republican co-sponsors.

A new report from the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) shows that the National Park Service’s billions of dollars in deferred maintenance in parks across the country includes funding needs for hiking trails, visitor centers, and historic buildings. The breakdown comes out as the summer vacation season begins in earnest and outdoor recreation continues to increase in popularity.

A bill to amend fees, royalty rates, and the frequency of federal oil and gas lease sales under the federal Mineral Leasing Act received pushback Thursday in a hearing held by the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. Rep. Mike Levin’s (D-Cali.) bill, “Restoring Community Input and Public Protections in Oil and Gas Leasing Act,” seeks to amend the Mineral Leasing Act, including reductions in Bureau of Land Management lease sales from scheduled quarterly sales to no more than 3 per year, and no more than once per year per field office. The bill would also set a royalty rate of 18.5 percent minimum, up from 12.5 percent.

Western Wire

The head of the Department of Interior said this week that addressing maintenance and being “creative” with National Park Service sites, particularly in the West, would support the nation’s economic growth and revive a faltering infrastructure that did not serve visitors with “world-class” experiences.. Following a keynote question-and-answer to the Western Governors’ Association annual meeting in Vail, Colo., Interior Secretary David Bernhardt sat down with Western Wire staff to discuss the National Park Service maintenance backlog and the need to be flexible in light of future growth in park visits and wear-and-tear of park infrastructure.

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The Trump Administration has received another request from the North Dakota congressional delegation to repay costs incurred by the state government when it policed the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline from protests in 2016 and 2017. The delegation, including U.S. Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer and U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong, …

Bernhardt told Western Wire that reporting from last week that appeared to indicate that Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’ assertion that Denver was “more likely” to land the relocated BLM staff and infrastructure than other candidates, like Grand Junction, was an oversimplification of a process the Interior Department, and the secretary in particular, was still conducting. “I do not think they [Denver] have a leg up, but here is the process we are going through,” Bernhardt said. “Basically, I’m asking a few questions. One, is this a necessary job, do we even need to really do this? Two, if it is a job that should be done, where is the best place on the planet to put it?”