Salazar, Abbey Get Feedback on New BLM Wilderness Order

SOS Forests is not alone in our shock and dismay at Sec DOI Ken Salazar’s Christmas surprise order declaring an indeterminate amount of the 245 million-acre BLM empire as de facto “wilderness” [here].

Wyoming Gov Matt Mead fired off the following letter last week [here]:

Governor Mead asks Department of Interior to rescind Wild Lands Order


State Capitol
Cheyenne, WY 82002

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – In a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Governor Matt Mead expressed deep concerns with the administration’s signing of Secretarial Order 3310. That order directs the Bureau of Land Management to identify public lands as “Wild Lands” and protect them for their wilderness values.

“This letter is to advise you that I firmly oppose Secretarial Order 3310,” Mead wrote. He added his concern that the order was released just before the Christmas holiday and at a time when his office and other governors’ offices were in transition. “Though you will seek feedback from State BLM offices prior to issuing final agency guidance, the opportunity for public input on the policy itself was never afforded.”

Mead also expressed concern about the impact that this order could have on the economy of Wyoming and its communities. He wrote, “The policy ignores the contribution of Wyoming’s natural resources to the nation’s economic sustainability. It ignores the revenues our State and local governments depend on from mineral and other development. It fails to address the impact to ranchers, recreationalists, and all the others who rely on the lands for so many different reasons.”

Specifically, Governor Mead says the order could drag out or halt the permitting process for BLM lands.

The Governor’s letter ends, “Only the elected Congress is given the power, by law, to designate official Wilderness areas. But, the policy seeks such designations by administrative fiat. With all due respect, the BLM cannot achieve these ends through this means. Please rescind the order for the reasons set forth in this letter and in the name of balance, transparency and the BLM’s multiple-use mandate.”

And in a contentious public meeting, BLM Director Bob Abbey’s pants were set on fire, figuratively:

Abbey’s visit marked by fireworks

Mary Bernard, Vernal Express, 1/18/11 [here]

Angry words, rowdy applause and a walk-out marked Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey’s visit Friday to the state Capitol to discuss a national policy shift on public lands management.

The new policy, announced Dec. 23 by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, directs the BLM to inventory — or in some cases re-inventory — the land it manages to determine if it should be protected under a new “wild lands” designation until Congress can decide whether it wants to permanently protect it as wilderness.

“It is consistent with our obligation to manage public lands for multiple uses,” Abbey said of the policy shift, adding that the public has a “right to protest or litigate decisions with which they disagree.”

Speaking before the usually reserved body of stakeholders on the Governor’s Council on Balanced Resources, Abbey was repeatedly blasted as he defended Salazar’s order.

“When is enough enough?” Gov. Gary Herbert asked, clearly frustrated with the shift that scraps a 2003 agreement crafted between then-Gov. Mike Leavitt and the Bush administration’s BLM that said the agency would stop trying to have public lands in Utah considered for congressional designation as wilderness.

“How many times are we going to inventory the same thing?” Herbert asked, drawing loud applause from attendees sporting “Stop the Land Grab” stickers as others wearing yellow “Wild Utah” buttons sat silent.

So many people turned out for Abbey’s meeting with Herbert and his council that two additional overflow rooms had to be opened to accommodate the session.

Herbert went on to criticize “ad nauseum litigation over public lands management that has had a negative impact on rural economies.” Specifically, he said, rural economies who rely on public lands access and face “the lack of finality” and no way to plan for the future.

Similar sentiments were voiced by council member Kathleen Clarke, who held Abbey’s job for five years during the Bush administration. She noted in the absence of certainty, “We will cause industry to flee this state.”

Council member Mike Noel went on to angrily denounce Salazar’s order as “erroneous.” The Republican state representative from Kanab said the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 guarantees Westerners responsible access to resources on public lands.

Instead, Salazar’s order is a step backward, possibly foreclosing on the state’s effort to engage different points of view to resolve challenges without legal action, council members told Abbey. …

“We’ve tried to bring people together in a reasonable and rational approach,” said Herbert, who was clearly irked by the federal government’s lack of openness in formulating its new policy.

“Process counts and when a major policy change is announced two days before Christmas after Congress is out of session, something is wrong,” the governor said. “If we have to somehow do it in the shadows, then it probably isn’t the right thing to do.”

Still smarting from the last minute phone call on the morning Salazar announced his order, the governor said the state was “caught blind” by the policy change. …

A request to hear from former Rep. Jim Hansen, a 22-year veteran of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, was met with a protest by council member Pat Shea.

Shea — director of the BLM for a brief time under President Bill Clinton and current defense attorney for Tim DeChristopher, the man charged with monkey-wrenching a 2008 BLM oil and gas lease auction in Salt Lake City — stormed out of the proceeding when Hansen, a non-member of the council, was given the floor to speak.

“The BLM is protecting fake wilderness,” Hansen said. “Only Congress can create a wilderness.”

Abbey countered Hansen’s assertion that Salazar’s order bypasses congressional authority saying, “We are not creating de facto wilderness.”

The response — interrupted by boos from the audience — focused on the BLM’s responsibility to operate as a multiple-use agency. …

When unctuous government functionaries violate the Constitution and the will of Congress with surprise “orders” that promise economic disaster, catastrophic holocaust, and wholesale destruction in the name of phony, illusory “mandates” and extreme junk science, can we call their actions “civil”? Is it “balance”, “clarity”, and “common-sense”, as described by Salazar, to inflict illegal and unwanted policies in a midnight putsch?

No, it just pisses people off. Salazar and Abbey need to resign today. They are bad for America.



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