Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issues new Wild Lands policy for BLM land
On December 23, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued an order that will reverse a much-maligned Bush-era policy and make millions of acres of pristine BLM lands once again eligible for Wilderness designation. The order directs the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to create a new “Wild Lands” jurisdiction that will provide protection for lands considered to have wilderness values. These "Wild Lands" would be separate from Wilderness Study Areas that must be authorized by Congress, but the order directs the BLM to “identify and maintain” an updated inventory of lands with wilderness characteristics, thereby allowing the BLM to plan for potential future Wilderness designations by ensuring that certain lands maintain Wilderness qualities until Congress can act.
Salazar said the new policy will supersede a 2003 policy that came to be known as "No More Wilderness." Agreed to by then-Interior Secretary Gale Norton, that settlement removed federal protections on 2.6 million acres of public land in Utah, and the resulting policy left millions of other backcountry acres vulnerable to development, Salazar said, adding that the policy “frankly never should have happened and was wrong in the first place."
Standing alongside Salazar during the announcement was Black Diamond’s own CEO and Founder, Peter Metcalf, who spoke on behalf of the Outdoor Industry Association. During the announcement in Denver, Metcalf called the BLM areas that could potentially be covered in the new policy “Our Sistine Chapel, our Mona Lisa, our David.” Metcalf went on to say, “For years, those of us who are part of the outdoor industry have recognized that the tired old debate of jobs versus preservation was an insult to the 6.5 million Americans whose jobs are dependent on the active outdoor recreation economy. Today, Secretary Salazar’s bold action has reframed the debate, acknowledged our industry’s contribution to the health of the American economy, while also recognizing the integrity of wild places.”
Click here for a detailed Q&A about the new policy from the Department of the Interior
Photo: Ray Bloxham/SUWA