The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) currently manages Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs). WSAs are currently managed under current law to prohibit commercial activities, motorized access, with a general prohibition against roads, structures and facilities within the WSAs. The BLM manages 546 WSAs encompassing more than 12.27 million acres. The BLM, in extensive studies conducted many years ago, has found 6.72 million acres are not suitable for Wilderness Designation by Congress, but continue to manage these areas as de facto Wilderness.
The US Forest Service (USFS) currently manages Roadless Areas. These areas were inventoried in 1979 under the second Roadless Area and Review Evaluation (RARE II) for the purpose of identifying areas within our national forests that may have met the definition for designation Wilderness under the Wilderness Act. The purpose of RARE II was to categorize these potentially suitable areas for Congress as “suitable” for Wilderness Designation (meeting the definition of “wilderness” under the Wilderness Act), “not suitable” for Wilderness Designation, and those in need of further study. There are 36.1 million acres of Roadless Areas identified by the USFS, based on the extensive RARE II process, that are not suitable for Wilderness Designation by Congress.
Recently, the Secretary of the Interior issued order 3310 directing the BLM to review multiple use lands with wilderness characteristics and designate them as Wild Lands; an administratively created designation that by-passes the exclusive authority of Congress alone to designation lands with wilderness characteristics for protection.
All of these lands, WSAs and Roadless Areas found not suitable and unsuitable for Wilderness Designation, as well as multiple use lands placed in de facto Wilderness protection as Wild Lands, total over 42 million acres.
A new bill is being introduced to release these areas back to multiple use management, areas already found by the agencies as not suitable for Wilderness Designation by Congress. The name of the bill will be the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act and is being introduced by Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). Please take a few minutes to send a letter to your elected officials asking them to co-sponsor or support this legislation.
United Four Wheel Drive Associations
By: Carla Boucher, Attorney
Letter for you to send to Congress is attached
The Members’ “Dear Colleague” letter with a list of bill supporters is attached
A summary of the bill provided by Rep. McCarthy’s office is attached