Nate Rott

The number of bald eagles in the lower 48 U.S. states — a population once on the brink of extinction — has quadrupled in the last dozen years to more than 316,000, federal wildlife officials say, despite steep declines in other American bird populations.

A new survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found there are more than 70,000 breeding pairs of the iconic raptor in the contiguous U.S. In the late 1960s, there were fewer than 500.

Deb Haaland, a member of New Mexico's Laguna Pueblo, has become the first Native American Cabinet secretary in U.S. history.

The Senate voted 51-40 Monday to confirm the Democratic congresswoman to lead the Interior Department, an agency that will play a crucial role in the Biden administration's ambitious efforts to combat climate change and conserve nature.

The Biden administration is moving to restore protections for migratory birds that were loosened under former President Donald Trump — a back-and-forth centering on the question of when it's illegal to kill them.

The Interior Department rescinded a controversial Trump-era legal opinion Monday that limited the scope of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. It also said it will soon propose a rule to replace one enacted at the end of the Trump administration that did the same.

Agnes Boisvert, an ICU nurse at St. Luke's hospital in downtown Boise, Idaho, spends every day trying to navigate between two worlds. One is a swirl of beeping monitors, masked emotion and death; the other, she says, seems oblivious to the horrors occurring every hour of every day.

Tens of millions of Americans experienced at least a day last year shrouded in wildfire smoke. Entire cities were blanketed, in some cases for weeks, as unprecedented wildfires tore across the Western U.S., causing increases in hospitalizations for respiratory emergencies and concerns about people's longer-term health.

A new study finds those concerns are well founded.

Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

In an effort to slow the nation's contribution to climate change, President Biden has signed an executive order to begin halting oil and gas leasing on federal lands and waters.

The much-anticipated move is one of several executive actions the president took on Wednesday to address the worsening climate crisis and the broader decline of the natural world, but it won't come without pushback.

Updated 5:45pm Eastern Time

In one of his first acts in the Oval Office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to have the United States rejoin the Paris climate agreement, the largest international effort to curb global warming.

Updated at 9:37 p.m. ET

In a historic first, President-elect Joe Biden will nominate Rep. Deb Haaland to lead the Department of the Interior, his transition team announced Thursday evening.

If confirmed by the Senate, Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico, would be the country's first Native American Cabinet secretary. Fittingly, she'd do so as head of the agency responsible for not only managing the nation's public lands but also honoring its treaties with the Indigenous people from whom those lands were taken.

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Signs posted at the entrance to the grocery store in northwest Montana told customers to wear a mask. Public health officials in Flathead County urged the same. Coronavirus infection rates here are among the highest in the state. Infection rates in the state are among the highest in the United States.

And still, Craig Mann walked out of the grocery store, past the signs and toward his truck, maskless and resolute.

The pandemic that everyone's talking about?

Gray wolves, a species that has long been vilified and admired, will no longer receive federal protections under the Endangered Species Act in the Lower 48 U.S. states, the Trump administration announced Thursday.

Human activities have caused the world's wildlife populations to plummet by more than two-thirds in the last 50 years, according to a new report from the World Wildlife Fund.

The decline is happening at an unprecedented rate, the report warns, and it threatens human life as well.

"The findings are clear," the report states. "Our relationship with nature is broken."

It's become a near-annual occurrence. A massive wildfire forces thousands of people to flee their homes. Exhausted firefighters warn of its speed and intensity. Smoke smothers cities and states hundreds of miles away.

Stuck at home for months on end, plans canceled and upside down, the Reyes family felt like so many others during this pandemic-blighted summer: "We were just going crazy," says Ricardo Reyes. "We had to get out."

They rented an RV, packed daughter and dog, and drove from North Carolina to a getaway they assumed would be quiet. Three days into a trip at Yellowstone National Park, they could see their need to escape was in no way unique.

Wykeisha Howe is trying to be thrifty. When her kids are uncomfortable in the sweltering Atlanta heat, she gives them freeze pops. Instead of cranking up the air conditioner, she uses a fan. Lunch and dinner are cooked at the same time, so the electric stove doesn't have to be turned on twice.

"I try my best to manage and ration out things as best as possible," she says.

In 2013, an 18-month-old boy got sick after playing near a hollow tree in his backyard in a remote West African village. He developed a fever and started vomiting. His stool turned black. Two days later, he died.

As health officials across the country try to slow the coronavirus pandemic, a growing body of evidence and research suggests the virus may have been silently spreading in different parts of the country far earlier than initially believed and officially reported.

With health officials now urging all Americans to cover their faces in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and a growing list of places requiring it, millions of people are getting creative to try and do their part - pulling out sewing kits, ripping up T-shirts and repurposing everything from vacuum filters to old bras. Seriously.

It's a situation nobody wants to imagine: a major earthquake, flood, fire or other natural disaster strikes while the U.S. is grappling with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"Severe weather season, flooding — those things don't stop because we're responding to COVID-19," says Joyce Flinn, director of the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

California has reached a deal with several financial institutions, including four of the country's five largest banks, to provide relief to homeowners affected by the coronavirus by suspending foreclosures and delaying mortgage payments, the governor announced Wednesday.

The news comes as unemployment claims in the state are soaring.

More than one million residents have filed for unemployment insurance since March 13, Gov. Gavin Newsom says, as workers continue to struggle with job losses and reduced hours, as the state looks to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

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Thirty-five miles out of Carlsbad, in the pancake-flat desert of southeast New Mexico, there's a patch of scrub-covered dirt that may offer a fix — albeit temporarily — to one of the nation's most vexing and expensive environmental problems: What to do with our nuclear waste?

Despite more than 50 years of searching and billions of dollars spent, the federal government still hasn't been able to identify a permanent repository for nuclear material. No state seems to want it.

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And now to the Department of the Interior. President Trump says he plans to name a new interior secretary this week. On Saturday, the president tweeted that Ryan Zinke would leave the post by the end of the year.

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