Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter is calling on Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to immediately withdraw his recent Secretarial Order 3310, which directs the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to treat much of the Idaho acreage under its control as "de facto wilderness."
"It reflects the same type of "top-down,' "one-size-fits-all' management approach to which Idaho was subjected during the waning hours of the Clinton Administration and Chief Forester Mike Dombeck. Without any state or public input, the Interior Department has circumvented the sovereignty of states and the will of the public by shifting from the normal planning processes of the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) to one that places significant and sweeping authority in the hands of unelected federal bureaucrats," Governor Otter wrote in a January 11 letter to Salazar.
The Governor said failure to withdraw the new policy under those circumstances "cannot engender the necessary support and inevitably will lead to endless lawsuits."
Secretary Salazar said on December 22, 2010, in announcing the Secretarial Order -- Protecting Wilderness Characteristics on Lands Managed by the Bureau of Land Management -- that it would "restore balance" and eliminate debate between multiple-use activities and protecting pristine backcountry areas.
Governor Otter said the order essentially extends the reach of federal land managers beyond designated wilderness and wilderness study areas to all BLM lands containing "wilderness characteristics," whether or not Congress has deemed them qualified for the special protections afforded to wilderness.
"Suggesting that current BLM practices favor multiple-use activities over preservation simply ignores the reality that the agency has succumbed to endless bureaucratic recalcitrance, resource constraints and lawsuits by environmental groups," the Governor wrote. "This order will only exacerbate these problems."