Wednesday, September 21, 2011

BLM director talks wilderness

Standing near the shadow of the Sleeping Giant north of Helena, Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey said on Tuesday that he hopes Congress will designate new wilderness areas this session, possibly including the Sleeping Giant and Sheep Creek wilderness study areas. Abbey, who is on a three-day tour of Montana, said that many of the Wilderness Study Areas, or WSAs, were given that designation in the early 1990s by Congress to protect them from development while being studied. Today, some of those areas may deserve full wilderness protection, while other WSAs may not be worthy of that distinction. “So I reached out to state BLM directors where we have public lands and asked them to contact their local elected officials and residents and come up with a list of Wilderness Study Areas where they felt there was strong support at this time for congressional action,” Abbey said. “They need to provide that information back to us by Oct. 15 so we can prepare a list of those areas for Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to share with Congress. “We hope Congress will take action this session to designate new wilderness that has support from local officials, ranchers, residents and others. … The list will not necessarily be based on priorities, but on what we believe is ready to go.”...more

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