Monday, January 24, 2011

Washington's obsession with land preservation threatens landowners, ranchers

Just before Christmas with Congress in recess and the public on holiday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued Secretarial Order 3310 that puts the creation of de facto wilderness areas back in the Bureau of Land Management's preservation tool kit. Environmentalists love it; landowners and resource providers not so much. Salazar's order enables the BLM to create wilderness-like areas without the consent of Congress. In the long run it will adversely impact resource development, recreation, travel and grazing on BLM land. Only Congress can designate wilderness but Salazar took some dubious administrative liberties and gave the BLM the authority to: identify lands with wilderness qualities; designate those areas as wild lands; and manage the designated areas to protect their wilderness characteristics. The Congressional Western Caucus was spot-on when they declared Salazar's order an “end around” congressional approval of wilderness areas. Salazar attempts to deflect that criticism by pointing out that his order allows certain multiple uses to go forward if it is determined that such uses are appropriate even though the wilderness non-impairment standard might be compromised. Sounds good, but you can bet any land-use proposal on designated wild lands will be smothered in bureaucratic red tape and litigation...more

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