Oh, the irony. On May 31, President Obama proclaimed June 2011 as “Great Outdoors Month”, saying “I urge all Americans to explore the great outdoors and to uphold our Nation’s legacy of conserving our lands for future generations.”
Apparently upholding our Nation’s legacy of conserving lands did not apply to Obama’s own administration. On June 1, 2011, the very first day of “Great Outdoors Month”, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar tossed out his own “Wild Lands” policy, kowtowing to a few vocal anti-wilderness legislators who had previously pushed to defund the policy in the Fiscal Year 2011 continuing resolution for the budget. The Wild Lands policy had reaffirmed the Bureau of Land Management’s longstanding authority to treat wilderness as one of the uses for public lands under the BLM’s multiple use mandate – an authority that had been taken away under a 2003 backroom settlement between then-Bush Interior Secretary Gale Norton and the governor of Utah. By shelving the Wild Lands policy, Secretary Salazar is undermining the preservation of our great outdoors, not upholding it.
While we applaud the administration’s efforts to highlight America’s grand history of protecting our country’s public lands, we need to see more than hollow pronouncements that leave the Nation’s wilderness-quality lands still lacking in protection.
P.S. You can send a message to Obama’s Council on Environmental Quality asking the administration to actually protect our Nation’s wild lands by clicking here.