The Wilderness Society has presented its annual Congressional briefing book to members of the 111th Congress. In it we have outlined what we believe to be the most important federal land management issues for the new Congress, as well as substantial background material on our National Forests, National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges and lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The book contains the kind of information and analysis that Members of Congress and land-management professionals have come to rely on from us.
Two law suits filed in the U.S. District Court of Colorado would put the brakes on Bush-era regulations and land management plans to fast-track development of oil shale, a dirty fossil fuel that threatens water resources, communities and wildlife in the West. Oil shale development would also contribute to climate change.
Wilderness Society President William H. Meadows praised Secretary of the Interior nominee Ken Salazar Jan. 15 as a leader who “understands the land, water, and people of the West and the intricate connections among those key features of our natural and social landscape.” Meadows’s praise came as part of a written statement given to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources at a hearing held today on Senator Salazar’s, D-Colo., nomination to serve in the Obama administration.
The Wilderness Society joined other conservation groups Jan. 12 to ask the incoming Obama Administration to make it more difficult for local Forest Service officials to approve projects that would destroy the integrity of our roadless forests. The need for such a move comes after years of Bush Administration efforts to replace established national protections for roadless forests with policies that allow protection decisions to be made at a state level.
As an environmental economist for The Wilderness Society’s Northern Rockies Regional office, I am confident that rural western states are not immune from the financial mess in which the rest of the country finds itself.
The outgoing president has been up to some last minute attacks on the environment. That is no surprise to some. However, President Bush’s use of the Antiquities Act to protect a large area of the western Pacific Ocean as a National Monument may also be a surprise to some, and it should be commended. He continues a presidential tradition of using the Act to protect some of the nation’s most spectacular natural and cultural resources. In fact, only three presidents since the passage of the Act in 1906 — Presidents Nixon, Reagan, and George H.W.
In the waning days of the Bush administration it seems every new day brings with it another new midnight regulation. The final day of 2008 was no different. On Dec. 31 in Portland, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued Records of Decision moving forward with the Western Oregon Plan Revision, also known as WOPR. This occurred in spite of the 264 filed protests and the request of Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski to delay the adoption of the plan, not to mention the 80,000 letters generated by The Wilderness Society’s Wild Alert community.
The planned blasting and removal of 530,000 cubic yards of rock and extensive grading and leveling to allow for a road inside the Otay Mesa Wilderness area in California will leave the area irrevocably damaged while also violating the Wilderness Act of 1964. With little prior notice, the Department of Homeland (DHS) security began work on the road on Dec. 24 in order to allow the continued building of its border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.