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Up to 2.4 million trees would be cut down as part of a project to prevent major wildfires in a federally protected New Jersey forest heralded as a unique environmental treasure. New Jersey environmental officials say the plan to thin trees in the Bass River State Forest will better protect against catastrophic wildfires. They say it will mostly affect small, scrawny trees, not the towering giants for which the Pinelands National Refuge is known and loved. Some environmentalists say it's a reasonable response to the dangers of wildfires. Others call it a waste of trees that imperils the globe in an era of climate change.

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The Arizona Court of Appeals has ruled that the state Department of Environmental Quality illegally issued a Clean Water Act permit for the proposed Resolution Copper mine, which is being opposed by the San Carlos Apache Tribe. ADEQ must restart the permit process. San Carlos Apache officials say the mine will destroy a sacred tribal religious site on the Tonto National Forest. Meanwhile, a group called Apache Stronghold that is authorized by the San Carlos Apache tribe to protect Oak Flat, says the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will rehear the case in front of a full panel of 11 judges. The court previously ruled the federal government could give Oak Flat to a foreign-owned mining company that wants to construct a massive underground copper mine east of Phoenix.

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U.S. officials have announced a five-year, $40 million agreement with the conservation group Trout Unlimited to improve watersheds on national forests and grasslands containing key habitat for trout and salmon. The U.S. Forest Service said Wednesday the agreement includes cleaning up abandoned mines, removing barriers to fish passage and other stream habitat improvements. The agency said the money comes from the $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed by President Joe Biden last year. The agency says that more than 40% of trout streams in the U.S. flow through nearly 200 million acres of national forests and grasslands.

Cities across the world have promised to plant more carbon-absorbing trees to help fight climate change. Research has shown the shade of mature trees also helps reduce unhealthful “heat islands,” especially in poor neighborhoods. But life of a city tree is already challenging and those problems are being compounded by a warming planet. Increasingly, the challenge for city arborists is to keep old and new trees alive, and it's incurring a bigger hit on municipal budgets.

The U.S. Forest Service is getting ready to resume construction work associated with the cleanup of six abandoned mines on the Verde Ranger District of the Prescott National Forest. The Black Hawk Mine, Golden Idol Mine, Black Hawk, Bunker Mine, Logan Mine and Uncle Sam Mine once produced primarily gold and silver, but operations stopped around 1940. Since then, authorities say mine waste has been migrating offsite and into the surrounding environment, contributing to poor watershed quality and posing a potential health risk to people and wildlife. In 2021, the Forest Service made a decision to pursue an environmental cleanup action at the sites, separating the work into two phases to avoid construction activities during Mexican Spotted Owl breeding season.

Climate change is taking a toll on Santa Clara Pueblo in northern New Mexico, home to Tewa-speaking people for thousands of years. Drought has made their forests a tinderbox, shrunk waterways and parched pastures and gardens. Three wildfires have burned more than 80% of their forested land, leaving them vulnerable to flash floods that have sent trees and debris surging through the pueblo and destroyed infrastructure and wildlife habitat. Drought also makes it more difficult to grow crops near the Rio Grande and is triggering groundwater concerns. So the pueblo is restoring its watershed and exploring ways to conserve water and grow drought-tolerant crops so they can stay on their ancestral homeland.

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Italy’s new far-right leader says her new government will stick to the country’s existing climate goal of reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century. Georgia Meloni said Monday at the U.N. climate meeting in Egypt that “despite a very complex international scenario already affected by the pandemic and further disrupted by the Russian aggression against Ukraine, Italy remains strongly committed” to its climate goals. Meloni, who took power last month, took a swipe at major polluters she suggested were freeloading on more ambitious countries.

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The U.S. government says four areas in Louisiana and two in Texas should be protected as critical habitat for a rare snake that eats small gophers and takes over their burrows. Louisiana pinesnakes have been listed as threatened since 2018, largely due to the loss of sandy longleaf pine savannas. National forests make up the bulk of four areas that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed as critical habitat. But the largest is nearly all private land in north Louisiana, home to the snakes' largest population. The smallest, in Scrappin’ Valley, Texas, is all privately owned.  A private biologist says it's already being managed for an endangered woodpecker that also needs open-canopy longleaf pine forests with grassy floors.

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Until recently, the skin of the pirarucu, the largest fish in the Amazon, had no commercial value. The meat was being sustainably fished, but the skin discarded. But a new technique and the fact that the fish are sustainably harvested has delighted boot manufacturers and the fashion industry. Rihanna in her pregnancy shoot for Vogue magazine wore a red fish scale jacket open at her belly. The new trade is a circle of good because the livelihood is helping local people preserve the Amazon rainforest.

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Climate change is taking a toll on Santa Clara Pueblo in northern New Mexico, home to Tewa-speaking people for thousands of years. Drought has made their forests a tinderbox, shrunk waterways and parched pastures and gardens. Three wildfires have burned more than 80% of their forested land, leaving them vulnerable to flash floods that have sent trees and debris surging through the pueblo and destroyed infrastructure and wildlife habitat. Drought also makes it more difficult to grow crops near the Rio Grande and is triggering groundwater concerns. So the pueblo is restoring its watershed and exploring ways to conserve water and grow drought-tolerant crops so they can stay on their ancestral homeland.

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Former U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been suspended by the Conservative Party after signing up to a reality TV show. Hancock led Britain’s response to COVID-19 in the first year of the pandemic. He is to compete on “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here.” The show sends a group of often C-list celebs to the Australian rainforest, subjects them to a series of icky trials involving spiders and snakes and allows the public to vote them out one by one. Conservative Chief Whip Simon Hart said Hancock was being suspended from the Conservative caucus in Parliament “with immediate effect.”

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Brazil's usually boisterous president is staying uncharacteristically quiet after losing his reelection bid. On Monday, many hours after he was defeated by his rival, Jair Bolsonaro hadn't conceded defeat or challenged the results. Left-leaning candidate Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva won the runoff Sunday night with 50.9% of the votes, to Bolsonaro’s 49.1%. It was the closest election since Brazil’s return to democracy in 1985. Much like former U.S. President Donald Trump, Bolsonaro has repeatedly questioned the reliability of the nation’s electronic voting system, without providing any proof.

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A plan for three open-pit gold mines in salmon habitat in east-central Idaho is one step closer to approval after the U.S. government selected the Canadian developer’s proposed plan for mitigating the project’s environment impact. The U.S. Forest Service on Friday made public an environmental study for British Columbia-based Perpetua Resources' Stibnite Gold Project. The plan involves expanding two existing open-pit gold mines in the historically heavily mined area and building a third, then restoring the site after mining concludes. The Nez Perce Tribe opposes new mining in the area due to its potential impact on salmon habitat. The tribe says the project is within its aboriginal homeland where it has treaty rights.

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Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has done it again: Twenty years after first winning the Brazilian presidency, the leftist defeated incumbent Jair Bolsonaro Sunday in an extremely tight election that marks an about-face for the country after four years of far-right politics. With more than 99% of the votes tallied in the runoff vote, da Silva had 50.9% and Bolsonaro 49.1%, and the election authority said da Silva’s victory was a mathematical certainty. It is a stunning reversal for da Silva, 77, whose 2018 imprisonment over a corruption scandal sidelined him from the 2018 election that brought Bolsonaro, a defender of conservative social values, to power.

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