Federal agency will once again consider high-quality public lands for wilderness and other special designations
DENVER—Trout Unlimited welcomed Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar’s announcement today that high-quality Bureau of Land Management acreage would once again be considered for potential wilderness designation and other protections, a move that could safeguard some of the country’s best remaining fish and game habitat and lands that harbor some of the finest hunting and fishing in the country.
The policy change amends a Department of Interior policy adopted in 2003 when then-Secretary of Interior Gale Norton determined the BLM would no longer consider new lands for “wilderness study area” designation.
“Whether they are called wilderness study areas, roadless areas or wilderness, sportsmen know that the best habitat for fish and wildlife and the best hunting and angling opportunity is found in backcountry areas,” said TU President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Wood.
The new policy change would not create new wilderness areas—that can only be done by an act of Congress. It would, however, give the BLM more leeway in managing some of its best remaining habitat in a way that protects high-quality lands from unnecessary development, illegal motorized incursion and other uses that could diminish the quality of public lands.
Trout Unlimited has documented the vital importance of backcountry lands to hunting and angling through a series of reports. These reports can be viewed at www.tu.org/roadless.
“Interior’s announcement will require the BLM to analyze the fish, wildlife and water values of backcountry areas before allowing development activities that could otherwise impair them,” Wood said. “This is simply common sense applied to commonly-owned lands for the common good, said Wood. Hunters and anglers across the country should thank Secretary Salazar and BLM Director Bob Abbey for an early Christmas present.”
Chris Wood, (571) 274-0601