Overturning the Bush "No More Wilderness" Policy
Background: In 2003, Bush Interior Secretary Gale Norton entered
into a settlement agreement with the State of Utah in which the
Interior Department adopted the novel and unprecedented legal position
that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lacked power under the 1976
Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) to designate new
wilderness study areas (WSAs) on BLM lands. This “No More Wilderness”
settlement dramatically curtailed existing and frequently used
authority by previous secretaries (including Reagan Interior Secretary
Jim Watt) to identify and designate wilderness-quality lands as WSAs.
Instead, the settlement declared that the BLM’s ability to designate
new WSAs expired in 1991, when the separate provision authorizing the
BLM’s initial 15-year review of roadless BLM lands terminated. The
settlement was inconsistent with every prior administration’s
interpretation of the BLM’s obligation to designate new WSAs. However,
even under the agreement’s plain terms, the settlement did not bind
future administrations to that faulty interpretation of the law.
What You Can Do: Please send a message to Secretary Salazar and President Obama asking them to defend Utah's magnificent natural treasures from off-road vehicle abuse, vandalism to archaeological sites, and the drilling of new oil and gas well until Congress can protect these landscapes permanently under the Wilderness Act.
View the open letter to Secretary Salazar signed by 29 businesses