(CNN) – Half a million acres will be protected Wednesday when President Barack Obama establishes the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument.
It's "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to head off development on the swath of land in south-central New Mexico that has "unique Pre-American, New Mexican, and American history," the monument's official website says.
(CNN) - Spring officially starts Thursday. And as the snow melts, waterfalls gush, and plants begin to bloom, the country's national park system once again becomes a playground for millions eager to get back outside after a long, brutal winter.
Hundreds of those park sites were closed for more than two weeks during the federal government shutdown last fall. Five months later, some states are still dealing with unresolved financial costs related to the closures.
(CNN) - Sally Jewell, the CEO of an outdoor gear company and expert in energy and conservation issues, was named Wednesday as President Barack Obama's nominee to succeed Ken Salazar as secretary of the interior.
She is the first non-male Obama has nominated to a secretary post in his second term. Obama has been criticized by some for selecting mostly white males for a variety of key posts, including the top spots in the departments of state, defense and treasury, although his cabinet makeup does not differ significantly from that of his predecessor President George W. Bush.
Washington (CNN) - The U.S. Interior Department will issue a new moratorium order Monday afternoon blocking deepwater oil and natural gas projects in the Gulf of Mexico, two Obama administration officials told CNN.
A previous six-month ban issued in the wake of the Gulf oil disaster was thrown out by a federal judge. Last week, a federal appeals panel rejected the government's request to overturn the lower court judge's decision.
The ban would prevent further deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico until officials determine what went wrong in the April 20 explosion and fire at an oil rig that led to oil gushing into the ocean 5,000 feet below the surface.
Updated: 2:45 p.m.