Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Obama Calls for Wilderness Protection

Bureau of Land Management

Beauty Mountain in California, the San Juan Islands of Washington, and Castle Peak in Colorado are among 18 backcountry areas in nine states that Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar highlighted today as deserving protection by Congress as national conservation areas or wilderness areas.

The report issued by Secretary Salazar includes a preliminary list of areas managed primarily by Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) where there is significant local support for Congressional protection, and that Secretary Salazar believes can be at the foundation of a bipartisan public lands bill that should pass under this Congress.

"From President Theodore Roosevelt's bold steps to establish national parks, wildlife refuges and forests to President Obama signing the 2009 Public Lands bill into law in his first days in office, America has a proud bipartisan tradition of protecting the backcountry that matters most to hunters, fishermen, and our families," said Secretary Salazar. "We have heard from local communities, elected officials, and others that Montana’s Sleeping Giant, Nevada’s Pine Forest Range, and New Mexico’s Rio Grande del Norte are among the many places that deserve protection by Congress for future generations. Building on the President’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative, I am hopeful that these areas can help form a strong foundation for a bipartisan conservation agenda for this Congress."

The report is the result of work by Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes and BLM Director Bob Abbey to identify—based on input from Congress, state and county officials, tribes, and other interested parties—a preliminary list of BLM lands that merit consideration by Congress for designation as national conservation areas or Wilderness.

"The backcountry areas we identify in this report are by no means the only public lands that may deserve protection by Congress, but this preliminary list of possibilities shows that there is a compelling case for bipartisan legislative action to conserve lands for recreation, protection, and enjoyment," said Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes. "From Devil’s Staircase in Oregon to Beauty Mountain in Southern California, local communities and elected officials from both sides of the aisle have developed conservation proposals that deserve serious consideration and action by Congress."

BLM Director Bob Abbey noted that the BLM currently manages more than 245 million acres of land nationwide, primarily in 12 western states. Since the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964, Congress has designated approximately 8,700,000 acres of BLM land as wilderness—equating to just roughly 3.5 percent of the land that the BLM manages.

"As we continue our push to responsibly expand oil, gas, coal, solar, wind, geothermal, and other resource development on public land, we also have a responsibility to expand the backcountry recreational and outdoor opportunities that generate billions of dollars in revenue for local economies across the West," said Abbey. "Resource development and resource protection go hand in hand and, in fact, are part of a proud bipartisan tradition on which I hope Congress will build."

Public lands managed by the Department of the Interior draw more than 400 million visits a year. According to some recent non-governmental estimates, outdoor recreation supports as many as 6.5 million jobs and provides as much as $1 trillion in annual economic benefits. Congressional designations, such as national conservation areas and wilderness areas, attract additional visitation, tourism and visitor spending in local communities.

To read Secretary Salazar’s cover letter for the recommendations, click here.

To read Secretary Salazar’s backcountry recommendations, click here.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A protest against the name of the Washington Redskins in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Nov. 2, 2014. Fibonacci Blue / CC BY 2.0

The Washington Redskins will retire their controversial name and logo, the National Football League (NFL) team announced Monday.

Read More Show Less
The survival tools northern fish have used for millennia could be a disadvantage as environmental conditions warm and more fast-paced species move in. Istvan Banyai / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 3.0

By Alyssa Murdoch, Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle and Sapna Sharma

Summer has finally arrived in the northern reaches of Canada and Alaska, liberating hundreds of thousands of northern stream fish from their wintering habitats.

Read More Show Less
A mother walks her children through a fountain on a warm summer day on July 12, 2020 in Hoboken, New Jersey. Gary Hershorn / Getty Images

A heat wave that set in over the South and Southwest left much of the U.S. blanketed in record-breaking triple digit temperatures over the weekend. The widespread and intense heat wave will last for weeks, making the magnitude and duration of its heat impressive, according to The Washington Post.

Read More Show Less
If you get a call from a number you don't recognize, don't hit decline — it might be a contact tracer calling to let you know that someone you've been near has tested positive for the coronavirus. blackCAT / Getty Images

By Joni Sweet

If you get a call from a number you don't recognize, don't hit decline — it might be a contact tracer calling to let you know that someone you've been near has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Read More Show Less
Aerial view of burnt areas of the Amazon rainforest, near Porto Velho, Rondonia state, Brazil, on Aug. 24, 2019. CARLOS FABAL / AFP via Getty Images

NASA scientists say that warmer than average surface sea temperatures in the North Atlantic raise the concern for a more active hurricane season, as well as for wildfires in the Amazon thousands of miles away, according to Newsweek.

Read More Show Less
A baby receives limited treatment at a hospital in Yemen on June 27, 2020. Mohammed Hamoud / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

Oxfam International warned Thursday that up to 12,000 people could die each day by the end of the year as a result of hunger linked to the coronavirus pandemic—a daily death toll surpassing the daily mortality rate from Covid-19 itself.

Read More Show Less

Trending

The 2006 oil spill was the largest incident in Philippine history and damaged 1,600 acres of mangrove forests. Shubert Ciencia / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Jun N. Aguirre

An oil spill on July 3 threatens a mangrove forest on the Philippine island of Guimaras, an area only just recovering from the country's largest spill in 2006.

Read More Show Less