New 'Wild Lands' policy blasted at congressional hearing
March 01, 2011
The U.S. Interior Department's new "Wild Lands" land-use policy was sharply criticized during a congressional hearing on March 1. The policy could close millions of acres of federal land to responsible motorized recreation.
Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter argued that, with the new policy, the Interior Department "has circumvented the sovereignty of states and the will of the public." Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said that "by bureaucratic fiat, one branch of government has overstepped and overreached and has devalued the rights of the states and the citizens." And Dennis Smith, a commissioner in Jackson County, Ore., said the Wild Lands policy "should be reversed in its entirety."
They joined several others in testifying before the House Committee on Natural Resources on "The Impact of the Administration's Wild Lands Order on Jobs and Economic Growth."
Robert Abbey, director of the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM), defended the Wild Lands policy, testifying that it "restores balance to the BLM's multiple-use management of the public lands in accordance with applicable law."
Courts have ruled that the BLM inventory of public land must include "inventory of wilderness values and that BLM must consider those values in its land-use planning," Abbey said.
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