The Obama administration 'wilderness land' screw up

Seal of the United States Department of the In...Image via Wikipedia

An Obama administration directive designed to preserve more public lands as wilderness is stirring anger in the West, where ranchers, sportsmen and energy companies say they could lose access to acreage they count on for their recreation and livelihood.

The regulatory change, initiated this month, directs the Bureau of Land Management to survey its vast holdings stretching between Alaska, Arizona, California and Colorado, in search of unspoiled back country. The agency can then designate these tracts—potentially millions of acres—as "wild lands."

Protections will vary from site to site, but in general such lands will be shielded from activities that disrupt habitat or destroy the solitude of the wild, according to the Interior Department. That might mean banning oil drilling, uranium mining or cattle grazing in some areas. It also could mean restrictions on recreational activities, such as snowmobiling or biking.

"Americans love the wild places where they hunt, fish, hike and get away from it all, and they expect these lands to be protected wisely on their behalf," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in announcing the policy shift late last week.

But the move, which did not require legislative approval, has drawn a hostile response from many in the West. "This harms economic growth," said Rep. Rob Bishop, a Utah Republican who takes over next month as chair of the House subcommittee on public lands. "The West is being abused."

House Republicans, who will hold the majority in the new Congress that arrives next week, say they plan hearings on the new policy and perhaps seek to cut funding to the BLM for identifying and managing wild lands.

The administration's initiative reasserts a power the BLM used extensively in the 1970s and 1980s to designate stretches of prairie, desert, mountain range or river basin as wild and to limit human intrusion on those landscapes. The agency largely relinquished this practice in 2003 to settle a lawsuit by the governor of Utah, who was seeking to block the BLM from setting aside 2.6 million acres in his state as wilderness.

The administration's move overrides the 2003 agreement and asserts that preserving the wild qualities of remote lands is a "high priority."

Mr. Salazar and BLM officials have tried to counter criticism with a pledge to hold public hearings before designating areas as wild lands. They also say they won't necessarily bar all intrusive activities; they may, for instance, allow vehicular travel on existing roads. The plans developed to protect each region will be revisited every 10 to 20 years, said Jeff Jarvis, a BLM division chief.

We should be selling this land and dedicating the proceeds to reducing the national debt. The goo-goo thinking of this move is that by making the land worthless we have some how improved the country.

Salazar continues his run as the worst Secretary of the Interior in history. Apparently that is what Obama wants and that is what Salazar is delivering. This guy has been strangling domestic production of oil and gas and no doubt this move will make it harder to exploit the minerals underneath this land.

He is single handily trying to delver us to the oil exporting countries who do not have our interest at heart. If he would get out of the way we could substantially reduce our dependence on the exporting countries, but he and Obama have this goofy belief in magic energy reducing that dependency he is encouraging.

Sell this land. If someone wants to buy it and keep it "wild" they should go for it, but do it on their dime and not on the public's.
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