Friday, February 11, 2011

Utah, Western Counties Mull Legal Assault on BLM Wilderness Policy

Utah and Wyoming counties are considering a legal challenge to an Interior Department policy ordering field personnel to inventory roadless lands and consider interim protections. The counties, backed by the state of Utah, are meeting in Salt Lake City today to discuss strategies for opposing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's "wild lands" policy issued in late December, which orders the Bureau of Land Management to consider wilderness qualities in its resource planning and project-level analyses. The county strategies, according to a Denver-based attorney whose firm has represented a Utah county, could include an amended complaint to an October 2010 lawsuit by Uintah County alleging that Interior had imposed de facto wilderness that stifled oil and gas development on 385,000 acres. "We are definitely seeing if we can't work on amending our old complaint," said Michael Marinovich, an attorney for C.E. Brooks & Associates PC. Today's meeting in Salt Lake City will include input from the Utah Association of Counties, the Wyoming County Commissioners Association and members of Utah Republican Gov. Gary Herbert's staff, according to an itinerary obtained by Greenwire. Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) will also attend the meeting, and Bishop will address the group by speakerphone, he said. Meanwhile, Wyoming counties are raising funds to help pay for public meetings and legal planning, according to the Sublette Examiner in Pinedale, Wyo...more

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