Federal Push For Wilderness Protection Seeks Eligible Land

KBKW Radio

Posted June 5, 2011

As a follow-up to the memo issued last week and as part of his push to build a bipartisan wilderness agenda that can be enacted in the 112th Congress, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today asked Members of Congress for their ideas of “crown jewel” areas of public lands that have strong local support for permanent protection as Wilderness under the Wilderness Act. The Obama Administration’s 21st century conservation agenda marked the historic enactment of the Omnibus Public Lands Act of 2009 and implementation of the President’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative includes designating wilderness as a key component in preserving our natural heritage for future generations.  


Noting the bipartisan success of Congress and the Obama Administration to designate approximately 2 million acres of Wilderness in 2009, Secretary Salazar said that he will deliver to Congress, by October 15, 2011, a list of areas overseen by the Bureau of Land Management that he believes are ready for immediate Wilderness designation by Congress. 


Press Release from U.S. Dept. of the Interior on June 1, 2011

Salazar Outlines Broad Opportunities for Common Ground on Wilderness

Washington, DC – In a memo to Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director Bob Abbey, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today confirmed that, pursuant to the 2011 Continuing Resolution, the BLM will not designate any lands as “Wild Lands,” and outlined how the Department will work in collaboration with Members of Congress, states, tribes, and local communities to identify public lands that may be appropriate candidates for congressional protection under the Wilderness Act.

“The protection of America’s wilderness for hunting, fishing, and backcountry recreation should be a unifying issue that mobilizes us to a common purpose,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “We will focus our effort on building consensus around locally-supported initiatives and working with Members to advance their priorities for wilderness designations in their states and districts. Together, we can advance America’s proud wilderness legacy for future generations.”

In the memo, Secretary Salazar directs Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes to work with the BLM and interested parties to develop recommendations regarding the management of public lands with wilderness characteristics.

Noting the longstanding and widespread support for the designation of wilderness areas, Salazar also directed Hayes to solicit input from members of Congress, state and local officials, tribes and federal land managers to identify BLM lands that may be appropriate candidates for Congressional protection under the Wilderness Act. Hayes will deliver a report to the Secretary and Congress regarding those areas.

In the memo, Salazar also confirmed that BLM must continue to meet its responsibilities under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA), including the requirement that it maintain inventories of the public lands, their resources and other values that it manages.

The BLM currently manages 221 Wilderness Areas designated by Congress and 545 Wilderness Study Areas, comprising approximately 8.8 percent of the nearly 245 million acres managed by the BLM.

In December, 2010, Secretary Salazar issued Secretarial Order 3310, directing the BLM to use the public resource management planning process to gather public input and designate certain lands with wilderness characteristics as “Wild Lands.” On April 14, 2011, Congress passed the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011, which includes a provision that prohibits the use of appropriated funds to implement, administer, or enforce Secretarial Order 3310 in fiscal year 2011.

To read Secretary Salazar’s signed memo, click here (text-pdf here).

for more information,

Contact: Kate Kelly, DOI (202) 208-6416
Celia Boddington, BLM (202) 208-6913