US agency cancels Trump policy on conservation purchases

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. Interior Department officials have canceled a Trump administration directive that gave local and state officials power to block purchases of land and water for conservation purposes. Acting Interior Secretary Scott de la Vega on Thursday rescinded a November order from former Secretary David Bernhardt that was criticized by lawmakers from both parties in Congress. Trump administration officials had said the order would have allowed the government to concentrate on fulfilling goals set when conservation areas were created, by filling in missing pieces of them rather than expanding the government’s holdings. Critics said Trump’s changes would have hindered conservation projects nationwide.