Mike Matz, director of the Pew Campaign for America's Wilderness, expressed serious concern that in their latest Continuing Resolution to fund the government, House leaders inserted a provision to stop the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from assessing public lands for their wilderness characteristics.
“The BLM policy isn't even final yet, and the House of Representatives appears intent on preventing Members of Congress from getting valuable information they could use to make the best decisions possible when considering what lands to include in the National Wilderness Preservation System,” Matz said.
“Congress hasn't held a single hearing on this issue, hasn't heard from a single witness or learned of a single instance where the policy would hinder any development of public land. The authorizing Committee's oversight authority should not be short-circuited by the appropriations process.”
“The BLM policy simply puts consideration of wilderness values on equal footing with extractive activities like mining or oil and gas development. That is BLM's legal responsibility. It also is in the best interests of the American public, who own this land,” Matz said. “Wilderness protection has always been and remains a nonpartisan endeavor, as evidenced by the first four wilderness bills introduced in this Congress. Clearly many lawmakers recognize that their constituents would like to see more wild places safeguarded for future generations to use and enjoy. Unfortunately, this vote closes the door before field experts and scientific analysts can deliver to Congress data they would find helpful.”
“The vote to overturn legislatively this sensible administrative policy will not save the federal government money. And in fact, uninformed and flawed agency planning decisions resulting from this restriction could lead to additional litigation, controversy and expense. We urge the U.S. Senate to restore integrity and balance to the agency's planning and land management so that BLM land managers can again consider all uses of our shared public land, including protection for wild land as a natural heritage for future generations.”