Federal Wild Lands policy is dead but threats remain

U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) reported in a news release that federal officials have assured him U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s controversial Wild Lands policy that would inappropriately create de facto Wilderness has been abandoned for good. But Bishop also expressed concern about Interior Department plans to formulate new policies for managing public land. The AMA shares those concerns since the new plans could also possibly create de facto Wilderness, barring all off-highway vehicle (OHV) activity.

Here is Rep. Bishop’s news release:

Bishop Meets With DOI Officials to Confirm that the Wild Lands Proposal is Gone for Good

WASHINGTON, DC – June 23, 2011 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – House Natural Resources National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) today met with Department of Interior (DOI) Deputy Secretary David Hayes and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director Bob Abbey to discuss DOI Secretary Ken Salazar’s recent memo halting administrative efforts to unilaterally designate new Wild Lands areas. House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) also attended the meeting.

On April 14, 2011 the House of Representatives passed the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, the budget to fund the remainder of FY2011. This legislation included a provision cutting off all funding through September 2011 for the controversial Secretarial Order #3310, which outlined plans for the creation of new de-facto wilderness areas or “Wild Lands.” Subsequently, on June 1, 2011 DOI Secretary Ken Salazar issued a memo to BLM Director Bob Abbey stating that “pursuant to the 2011 CR, the BLM will not designate any lands as ‘Wild Lands’.”

“Deputy Secretary Hayes and Director Abbey reiterated that Secretarial Order #3310 is dead. They both assured me that no administrative action will be taken to designate Wild Lands now or any time after FY2011,” said Congressman Bishop. “The only way to move forward on public land issues is to avoid unpredictable, unilateral actions without congressional input. Both Director Abbey and Deputy Secretary Hayes stated their intention to reduce the uncertainty that has plagued the debate in recent years and pledged to seek more consensus on these issues by improving coordination and dialogue with Congress and stakeholders.”

In the memo, Secretary Salazar also stated that Deputy Secretary David Hayes will work to develop recommendations regarding the management of lands with wilderness characteristics. Congressman Bishop expressed a concern over the creation of new management plans and indicated that he was interested in learning more about what Deputy Secretary Hayes would be looking to implement. During today’s meeting, Deputy Secretary Hayes also indicated that his recommendations were not imminent and that the Administration would work closely with Congress once those recommendations were completed.

“After today I am confident that the Administration recognizes the primary role that Congress must play in land management decisions going forward, Bishop added. “I appreciated both Director Abbey and Deputy Secretary Hayes for taking time to sit down with me and Chairman Hastings and it is my hope that they will uphold the assurances made to us during today’s meetings that Secretarial Order #3310 is no longer. While it was good to hear their assurances, I remain cautiously optimistic and will work with my colleagues on the committee to continue careful oversight of the Administration.”

SOURCE: American Motorcyclist Association

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