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Former Arizona state Sen. Jack Jackson Jr. has been working since July as the State Department’s liaison for Native American affairs. It is the first time State has had a point person to act as an ambassador to nation’s within the U.S. borders.

Former Arizona state Sen. Jack Jackson Jr. knew his job with the State Department would be a balancing act between representing the federal government and serving tribal communities. But five months into the job, he is finding that he also faces another balancing act, the same one that challenges tribes across the country – how to weigh economic growth against and cultural and environmental concerns. Read more»

National Park Service Comptroller Bruce Sheaffer said the Park Service does not want to take the time to create a plan for keeping parks open during future federal government shutdowns.

The National Park Service is not interested in coming up with plans to let states pay to keep parks open should another government shutdown occur, a service official testified Thursday to a House subcommittee. Read more»

San Carlos Apache Tribe Chairman Terry Rambler said a proposed copper mine near Superior sits on sacred land to his tribe, which opposes the project as a matter of religious freedom.

San Carlos Apache Chairman Terry Rambler told a Senate committee Wednesday that a massive copper mine proposed for Southeast Arizona would desecrate land his tribe considers sacred. Read more» 1

Barber last November. The Democrat is expected to face a rematch next year with Republican Martha McSally, whom he beat narrowly for the 2nd District seat in 2012.

Arizona Reps. Kyrsten Sinema and Ron Barber joined 37 other Democrats who crossed the aisle Friday and voted for a GOP-backed bill to let people keep their current insurance policies under the health care reform act. Read more» 1

The White House Tribal Nations Conference brings Native American leaders from across the nation to Washington to hear from adminstration officials. The event, now in its fifth year, was a promise President Barack Obama made in his first campaign for the White House. (Cronkite News Service photo by Ashley Shumway)

The effect of climate change on tribes in the Southwest was just one of the topics at the wide-ranging White House Tribal Nations Conference, which featured the president and much of his Cabinet. Read more»

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the federal government needs to work with states to conserve water, especially in the Southwest, where the Colorado River’s water level has dropped.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell cited the Colorado River and Lake Mead as examples of the water conservation problems that she called one of the top issues facing her department. Read more»

Arizona was ranked 12th-most energy-efficient state in the nation this year, largely on the strength of its utility policies, according to American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, which released the report Wednesday. It was the same rank the state held last year.

Arizona is the 12th-most energy-efficient state in the nation this year, the same position the state held last year, according to rankings released Wednesday by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Read more»

Jim Hubbard, deputy chief of the Forest Service, testified that Western states in particular need to prevent large wildfires as temperatures rise and droughts become more severe.

For every dollar the government spends preventing wildfire damage, it could save cash-strapped agencies like the Forest Service another $5 on fighting increasingly large fires, a Senate committee was told Tuesday. Read more»

A federal appeals court said Steven James, sentenced to death for a 1981 murder, should get a new hearing on his sentence and his claim that attorneys who previously represented him were ineffective.

A federal appeals court Friday reaffirmed its decision to overturn the death sentence of convicted murderer Steven James, saying lower courts were wrong not to consider claims that his lawyers were ineffective. Read more» 1

A researcher at the Arizona State University Polytechnic Laboratory for Algae Research and Biotechnology checks on the lab’s equipment that grows algae on a large scale. The Congressional Algae Caucus aims to focus on boosting research and development of algae, which could one day be used as a fuel, food and for other purposes.

Shipbuilding may not seem like a vital issue for arid, landlocked Arizona, but Rep. Trent Franks, R-Glendale, joined the Congressional Shipbuilding Caucus – along with 23 other caucuses and working groups. He’s not alone. When it comes to caucuses, Arizona lawmakers seem to err on the side of involvement. Read more»

Farming groups are worried that there may not be enough workers like this one, shown harvesting bell peppers, to bring in the winter vegetables after the government shutdown delayed the processing of visas for farm workers.

This month’s federal government shutdown caused a backup in seasonal farmworkers’ visa applications that some groups say could lead to a labor shortage during the coming winter vegetable harvest. Read more»

Visitors to federally owned national parks have been greeted by signs like this, which has hit tourism businesses hard in the past 10 days.

In the first 10 days of the shutdown, Grand Canyon National Park lost 120,000 visitors and the roughly $11.8 million they would have spent, by one estimate. The impact has been felt at hotels, restaurants and outdoor guides. Read more»

Crowds gather watch thunderheads building over the North Rim of the Grand Canyon from Mather Point on the South Rim in August 201.

Arizona and other states are able to reopen their national parks like Grand Canyon National Park during the federal government shutdown, the Interior Department announced this week. Read more»

Rep. Ron Barber, D-Tucson, is one of two members of the state’s congressional delegation who has pledged to donate his salary to charity for as long at a government shutdown lasts.

Some members of Arizona’s congressional delegation hoped to show solidarity with furloughed federal employees by cutting or suspending their pay during the government shutdown. “Hoped” being the operative word. Read more» 1

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, not only declared all her office staff essential so they could work during the government shutdown, she expanded office hours to deal with an expected influx of constituent calls.

Other parts of the government were shut down, but it was still a workday Tuesday for many Arizona congressional office staffers - even though there's no guarantee they will get paid. Some lawmakers brought in the whole office, others kept only a bare-bones staff. Read more»

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