Success! BLM to Utah: new wilderness protection coming

Last week, wilderness protection in Utah got a needed boost as National Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director Bob Abbey came to Utah to discuss the new BLM wilderness guidance that has the potential to give needed protection to 6 million acres of wilderness-quality lands across the state.

In the face of some antagonistic questioning by Utah Governor Gary Herbert and his “Balanced Resources Council,” Director Abbey held firm, saying that the new wilderness guidance is a tool to provide protection to BLM-managed wild lands until Congress acts to officially designate wilderness.

Over a hundred Utah wilderness supporters showed up to the meeting to thank Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and BLM Director Abbey for their commitment to giving wilderness its rightful place as an equal among the range of other resources BLM must manage and protect — a critical first step towards ensuring the permanent protection of our last remaining wild lands in the West.

Click on the video below to view clips from a news conference we organized featuring SUWA’s Heidi McIntosh along with Utahns Bryson Garbett, a former Republican legislator and owner of a prominent home building company, and Eve Miller, a new mom and co-founder of Women Protecting Wilderness.

The new policy also reverses the much-maligned and illegal 2003 back-door agreement between former Utah governor Michael Leavitt and former Interior boss Gale Norton by which Norton renounced the BLM’s authority to manage public lands to protect their wilderness character.

But, we all know that good policies are only good if they are implemented correctly, so we’re going to be watching implementation of this new wilderness guidance closely, and will urge the BLM to take a robust approach to protection of wild lands under its jurisdiction.

A big thanks to all of you who love and support Utah’s wild lands! Working together we can continue to ensure that these amazing places remain wild so the generations that come after us can experience them in their natural splendor.

If you haven’t done so already, please take a moment to thank Secretary Salazar for the new wilderness guidance policy.