Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bureau of Land Management - #2501 - Ken Salazar Directs Bureau of Land Management to Designate 'Wild' Lands - Deseret News

Much to the criticism of Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and to the praise of environmentalists, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Thursday directed the Bureau of Land Management to begin inventorying public lands with "wilderness" characteristics. A Secretarial Order issued by Salazar is intended to fill in the policy gaps he says were created with a 2003 out-of-court settlement between then-Interior Secretary Gale Norton and the state of Utah, as well as others. The settlement resulted in the revocation of the BLM's wilderness management guidance. But Hatch called the move "a brazen attempt to kowtow to radical environmentalist groups by locking up more public lands in Utah and other states." He said policy change does an end-run around the settlement agreement, which requires the federal government to get Congressional approval for wilderness designations. 
"The decision to withdraw from the agreement is an insult to the people of Utah. Changing the wildlands-designation policy will destroy the balance and clarity that comes from allowing Congress to work with the public to develop and pass land-use bills," he said. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert questioned the order's timing and said it could upset Utah's efforts to balance public land use. “The timing of this decision is suspect, coming the day before Christmas Eve,” Herbert said. “State officials were not notified of the Department’s intent, nor were we offered an opportunity to discuss it with Interior officials beforehand, which strikes me as political posturing.”  Read more.........

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