BRC Applauds Congressional Oversight of BLM’s Wilderness Inventory Handbook
POCATELLO, ID (August 6, 2012)–The BlueRibbon Coalition today expressed appreciation for the initiative of several key members of Congress, who are taking action in opposition to the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) efforts to conduct a never-ending Wilderness inventory process.
Senate Western Caucus Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY), joined Congressman Rob Bishop (UT-01) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) in questioning Bureau of Land Management guidance manuals that continue the controversial Wild Lands policy killed by Congress in April 2011. The manuals include language identical to Secretarial order 3310 and its supporting documents, known as the DOI’s Wild Lands memo, mandating BLM employees engage in a ongoing inventory for lands with wilderness characteristics.
In the letter to Secretary Salazar, Caucus members wrote; “The Department’s recent actions greatly undermine both your commitment to working with us, your duty to follow both the letter and spirit of the Congressional mandate to withhold funding for the Wildlands policy, and the Obama Administration’s commitment towards being the ‘most transparent’ in history. We urge you to withdraw BLM Manuals 6310 and 6320 immediately, and create a public process for crafting these manuals that are so vital to the management of western public lands,”
In addition to Barrasso, Hatch, and Bishop, the letter was signed by Senators Mike Crapo, Mike Enzi, Dean Heller, Jon Kyl, Mike Lee, Lisa Murkowski, Jim Risch and Representatives Mark Amodei, Jason Chaffetz, Jeff Denham, Jeff Flake, Paul Gosar, Raul Labrador, Cynthia Lummis, Tom McClintock and Steve Pearce.
Greg Mumm, BRC’s Executive Director said the congressional oversight is appreciated by many in the west who have been fighting the agency’s attempt to add additional Wilderness Study Areas (WSA) each time a new management plan is created. “The effort to require the BLM to conduct an endless wilderness inventory has been the single most controversial policy initiative in the agency’s history. This ill-conceived wilderness review process has been nothing but a waste of valuable resources and budgets. We very much appreciate the efforts of the Western Caucus.”
While applauding the action, BRC’s Public Lands Policy Director, Brian Hawthorne, could not help but note that the planning regulations, promulgated at the end of the Clinton Administration, were continued by the Bush Administration. “This policy began under Secretary Bruce Babbitt in 1998. It was incorporated into official BLM planning regulations in 2002 and has continued largely under the radar until Secretary Salazar elevated the effort to a ‘Secretarial Order.’ In every respect, we must thank Secretary Salazar’s over-reach for bringing this policy to the attention of Congress and the public.”
Pages: 1 2