Saturday, January 1, 2011
Obama administration reverses Bush wilderness policy
DENVER (Reuters) - The Obama administration has restored U.S. land managers' powers to curb development on vast tracts of America's back country, undoing what conservation groups called a "no more wilderness" policy put in place under President George W. Bush.
U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced on Thursday that the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will again have the authority to set aside large areas of federally owned territory in the West that it deems deserving of wilderness protection.
It would still be up to Congress to decide whether to grant those areas formal wilderness status, putting them permanently off-limits to energy development and other commercial uses.
An official wilderness designation by law prohibits the building of roads or other structures, or any human activities that would alter the natural landscape, such as farming, logging, mining, or oil and gas drilling.
In years past, lands classified by BLM as eligible for such protection were to be protected as de facto wilderness until or unless Congress acted.
Painting by Ivan Shishkin
View in the Vicinity of St. Petersburg. 1856