On June 1st, the Obama administration capitulated to a handful of western anti-wilderness politicians by abandoning its 5-month-old Wild Lands policy. This surrender could seriously harm our efforts to protect Utah’s red rock wilderness.
The Wild Lands policy was a response to the much-maligned Bush administration’s “No More Wilderness” policy. The Bush policy repudiated the BLM’s longstanding legal authority, used historically by Republican and Democratic presidents alike, to establish new Wilderness Study Areas. Repeal of the No More Wilderness policy should have been the Obama administration’s top priority for public lands when it won the 2008 election. Not so. Instead, the administration dithered for nearly two years before reversing the policy – sort of. It issued new, weak guidance – the Wild Lands policy – which was better than nothing. Today, they’ve retreated to nothing. Under Secretary Salazar’s June 1st memo the Obama administration promises NOT to protect America’s outstanding public lands as “wildlands,” let alone as wilderness study areas.
This fight isn’t over. The Obama administration has been a steady and enormous disappointment on public lands, but they are very sensitive to public sentiment. It’s time they heard from all of us who believe Utah’s wild canyon country deserves protection.
Please contact the Council on Environmental Quality (the President’s advisor on matters of environment, natural resources and energy) and let them know that this administration should get in line with past administrations, Republican and Democratic, and assert its authority to protect our last special places in Utah and across the west.