Owners of the land


Federal land belongs to all Americans. And that reality should not be lost in the discussions about wilderness or wild lands. The BLM is charged with managing multiple uses of most of that land — for grazing, recreation, oil and gas drilling and development of other energy sources. Still, a major part of the agency’s mission is to inventory the land belonging to Americans to determine which parcels are so unusual in their scenic, archaeological, recreational, wildlife and watershed values — or simply because they are unique — that they warrant special protection.

Some uses, such as mining and drilling, can spoil the land and exclude other activities that are just as valid and also may have economic value, such as quiet recreation.

…Salazar is right to encourage broad participation. But we don’t believe he intends to leave decisions up to local leaders. Nor should he. All those folks who are interested in wilderness planning should have a say, including those who want to enjoy public lands in relative solitude. If legislation is written that excludes their voices, it will fall flat