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Natural areas in the West are going fast. With each flight home, we get a bird’s eye view of sprawling new roads, oil wells, and pipelines. The Oregon woods we explored as kids are now stumps without songbirds. We see fewer stars through Santa Fe’s brightening lights.

Yet, from governors’ mansions to the halls of Congress, questions about land and wildlife conservation command relatively little attention today. The conventional wisdom seems to hold that the most consequential battles over America’s wild places are already settled. President Theodore Roosevelt, Sierra Club founder John Muir, and the environmental activists of the 1960s won protections for national parks, national forests, and wilderness areas. In the eyes of some politicians, the West’s open spaces are not only well protected, but too well protected. An anti-parks caucus in the U.S. Congress, for example, wants to block new national parks and sell off the West’s national forests to private owners. …


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Produced by Nicole Gentile; narrative and analysis by Matt Lee-Ashley, Jenny Rowland, Mary Ellen Kustin, and Nicole Gentile; video by Andrew Satter; web design and development by Andrew Lomax; editing by Victoria Ford and Emily Haynes; additional thanks to Lauren Vicary, John Hanly, and Pete Morelewicz.

Conservation Science Partners Data and analysis by David M. Theobald, Luke J. Zachmann, Brett G. Dickson, Miranda E. Gray, Christine M. Albano, Vincent Landau, and Dylan Harrison-Atlas.

Gage CartographicsInteractive map designed and developed by Josh Gage/ Center for American Progress ©2016

This material [article) was published by the Center for American Progress.