Salazar Shelves Policy to Analyze More Acres for Wilderness Protection

Publication: The Washington Post

Author: Juliet Eilperin

06/01/2011 - Facing resistance from congressional Republicans, the Obama administration reversed course Wednesday and jettisoned a policy aimed at evaluating whether millions of acres in the West would qualify for wilderness protection.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued a secretarial order in late December saying the Bureau of Land Management would reassess if land the agency holds constituted “wild lands” that deserved additional federal protection. The budget deal President Obama and congressional leaders struck in April barred Interior from spending any money for the rest of the current year to implement the policy.

In a statement, Salazar said he would not pursue the policy but would direct Interior Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes to work with the bureau and “interested parties to develop recommendations regarding the management of public lands with wilderness characteristics.”


Tim Mahoney, policy director of the Pew Campaign for America’s Wilderness, said activists would have to work with Congress and the administration in the months ahead if they hoped to institute broader wilderness safeguards than what Salazar is now proposing. “This does not adequately protect land, and that is what is required,” he said.

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