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After the Trump assassination attempt, defining democracy gets even harder; Trump picks Sen. JD Vance of Ohio, a once-fierce critic turned loyal ally, as his GOP running mate; DC residents push back on natural gas infrastructure buildup; and a new law allows youth on Medi-Cal to consent to mental health treatment.

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Donald Trump is formally put up for GOP nomination and picks Ohio Senator J.D. Vance as his running mate. Former presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy and swing state delegates consider ticket.

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Enticing remote workers to move is a new business strategy in rural America, Eastern Kentucky preservationists want to save the 20th century home of a trailblazing coal miner, and a rule change could help small meat and poultry growers and consumers.

Conservation Groups: New Administration, New Hope for IL Public Lands

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008   

Chicago, IL – It's a wish list aimed at protecting the country's most valuable natural resources: Protections for public lands like the Shawnee National Forest in Illinois are among the requests from conservationists for the new administration. Velma Smith, Pew Campaign for Responsible Mining manager, says the "Roadless Area Conservation Rule" preserves nearly sixty million acres of undeveloped forest and must be embraced in the New Year.

"When the roadless rule was proposed there was more public participation than probably ever before on a public land rule making; there were more than 180,000 comments from people in Illinois supporting protection of roadless areas."

While supported by President-elect Barack Obama, various outdoor groups and environmentalists, roadless area conservation has drawn criticism from mining and lumber industries.

Another request is reform of the 1872 mining law, which permits companies to stake mining claims on federal lands and extract hardrock minerals without paying any royalties. Smith says the 19th century law presumes that mining is the most important use of public land.

"It disregards the need for recreation, for hunting, for fishing, watershed protection - basically things are a lot different than they were in 1872 and it's time to change those rules."

Smith says lawmakers need to realize the importance of public land to the American people and to future generations.

"Let's make sure that we're not using our public lands for just the profit of a few today, but making sure that we're managing them so that people can enjoy them for all sorts of uses into the future."

Environmentalists say these issues need to be a priority for the new administration, and to keep the public in public lands policy.




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