From the office of Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY):
BLM Still Obligated to Enforce FLPMA Despite Policy Rider in Recent Continuing Resolution
Washington, DC – Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA), Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) were yesterday joined by 40 other members of the House of Representatives in a letter to President Obama requesting that he enforce the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) and preserve our nation’s pristine wild and public lands. The recently passed long term continuing resolution, H.R. 1473, included a policy rider which defunded enforcement Secretarial Order 3310, the administration’s wild lands policy, for the remainder of the fiscal year.
“Without the wild lands policy, many of our nation’s pristine wild and public lands remain at risk. The policy is popular with the millions of Americans who are committed to the preservation of our wilderness heritage and we strongly support it,” urged the 44 House members. “Despite the passage of H.R. 1473, the Bureau of Land Management is still legally obligated under FLPMA to manage the wilderness resource as one of several multiple uses.”
While H.R. 1473 defunded the Secretarial Order 3310, the underlying FLPMA statute still requires the administration to put forth rules to protect wilderness resources. Late last year, the Obama Administration Issued Secretarial Order 3310, overturning the legally flawed decision by former Interior Secretary Gail Norton that barred the BLM from identifying and protecting BLM lands possessing wilderness characteristics as “wilderness study areas.” The so-called “Norton Policy” was an abdication of the Department’s legal obligations under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA), as well as other statutes, to inventory and manage public lands with wilderness characteristics. In addition, it was an unprecedented departure from a long history of agency management of wild lands which preserved Congress’ ability to designate lands as wilderness.