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Arizona State Land Commissioner Vanessa Hickman, second from left, told a House panel that a bill to streamline the land-exchange process would unlock surface and subsurface land to revenue-generating uses, such as commercial, wind and solar development.

State Land Commissioner Vanessa Hickman told a House panel that a bill to streamline public-land exchanges in the West could make for more sensible and environmentally sensitive development. And that could mean more trust land money to go to local schools, she said. Read more» 1

Advocates say that water-safety lessons need to be observed in all bodies of water, including canals, rivers and ditches, and not just swimming pools. Life vests like those used by the children in this Missouri file photo should be used, they say.

Gilbert dad Cody Thomson has a problem with pool-safety campaigns: the pool part. Thomson, whose then 6-year-old son, Brenan, drowned in a canal in 2011, said safety campaigns need to remind people that drownings and water-related injuries don’t only occur in pools. Read more»

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, talks to Navajo County Supervisor David Tenney at a Senate committee hearing on wildfire preparedness. Both men testified that firefighting efforts should be focused on forest thinning rather than just suppression after the fire breaks out.

McCain is supporting more money for the Forest Services wildfire budget, just one week after President Obama included wildfire funding as part of an emergency border request to Congress. Read more»

Jose Mathews, Christian Head and Kathrine Mitchell. from left, doctors who exposed problems at Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities, are sworn in before testifying at a House committee hearing on whistleblowers.

Dr. Katherine Mitchell knew she was "shooting my career in the foot" when she raised concerns about the quality of care the Department of Veterans Affairs was providing patients in Phoenix. But she told a House panel it was more important to look out for vets' welfare. Read more»

A firefighter engages in burnout operations while fighting the San Juan Fire in Arizona last month.

The president's request for $3.7 billion to stem the tide of immigrant children crossing the Southwest border included a request for $615 million to fight wildfires. Advocates say the firefighting money is needed, but some critics questioned its inclusion in the border request. Read more»

The U.S. Supreme Court said Tuesday it will consider a Gilbert church’s claim that the town’s sign ordinance discriminates against religious speech by placing stricter regulations on church signs than on other non-commercial signs. Read more»

A helicopter battling the Slide Fire in Coconino National Forest in May. The blaze cost $10.2 million to contain as it burned more than 20,000 acres before it was contained.

Halfway through the year, Arizona has seen a larger number of smaller fires than last year, allowing crews to react quickly, stay safe and keep firefighting costs within budget, officials said. Read more»

A grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park. A conservation group has petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service to consider reintroducing grizzlies in Arizona and other parts of the Southwest.

The Center for Biological Diversity this week petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to work to return grizzly bears to the Grand Canyon, the Gila/Mogollon complex and other areas of the Southwest. Read more»

The razorback sucker, thought to have disappeared from the Grand Canyon in the 1990s, has been rediscovered there by researchers, who believe conditions are right for naturally reproducing populations.

Researchers have found evidence that razorback suckers, once thought to have disappeared from the Grand Canyon, have moved upriver from Lake Mead and are reproducing in the canyon. The endangered fish was last seen in that part of the Colorado River in the 1990s. Read more»

A helicopter battling the Slide Fire in Coconino National Forest which cost $10.2 million to contain as it burned more than 20,000 acres. The fire, which started May 20, was fully contained this week.

Forestry and fire officials told a Senate subcommittee that federal, state and local firefighters need more funding, training and flexibility to effectively battle wildfires. It came as the cost to fight the Slide Fire, just contained in Coconino County, was estimated at $10.2 million. Read more»

Navajo President Ben Shelly has said he would like to see funds from the tribe’s settlement with the federal government be used for housing and to assist disabled tribe members, but no final decisions have been made.

The federal government is nearing final approval of a $554 million settlement with the Navajo Nation of the tribe’s claim that the government mishandled royalties on tribal mineral resource contracts for decades. Read more»

The Navajo Generating Station burns locally mined coal, providing jobs and power for the Central Arizona Project and others. But it also produces some of the largest amounts of air pollution among power plants in the West.

Navajo officials applauded a committee's approval of an energy bill that has provisions making it easier for the tribe to sign mining leases on its lands. But while critics liked the bill's renewable-energy language, they worried about the possibility of increased coal mining. Read more»