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Public Statements

Letter to Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior - Withdrawing Secretarial Order 3310

Outgoing Western Caucus Chairman Rob Bishop(R-UT) and Senate Western Caucus Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY), along with 47 House Members and eight Senators, sent a letter to Department of Interior (DOI) Secretary Ken Salazar today requesting that he withdraw Secretarial Order 3310, which creates a new Wild Lands classification for public lands. The letter cautions that the DOI's Wild Lands policy will destroy jobs and severely handicap local economies.

"I am increasingly concerned by Secretary Salazar's and the current Administration's ongoing efforts to circumvent Congress when it comes to creating new public lands policies. The DOI's unilateral decisions regarding the management of our public lands and resources are detrimental to communities and businesses throughout the West. Their lack of regard for the impact this will have on local economies is unacceptable. It is time that they start taking into consideration the people that will be hurt by their decisions to operate in a vacuum, starting with the withdrawal of Secretarial Order 3310," said Congressman Bishop. ""Why would anyone who wears a cowboy hat and boots in public work in private to hurt ranchers, outdoorsman and other western industries that depend upon access to our public lands. It makes no sense."

The full text of the letter is as follows:

The Honorable Ken Salazar
Secretary
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
Washington DC 20240

Dear Secretary Salazar,

We are writing to express our concerns about the Department of the Interior's (DOI) recent issuance of Secretarial Order No. 3310. This order implements a sweeping new wilderness policy for Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands without congressional imput. It has the potential to put an end to many traditional BLM land uses while setting aside vast areas of the American West as de facto communities, which depend on multiple-use access to federal lands.

The decision was announced the day after Congress adjourned and the day before Christmas Eve. Choosing to announce such a significant decision on such a date raises the question whether the intent was to escape both congressional and public scrutiny.

We are also concerned that because this action was taken without input from Members of Congress and local officials, who would be affected by the order, the prospects of a cooperative working relationship about wilderness have been damaged. As best we can tell, Congress was left in the dark regarding any process the DOI may have undertaken in the preparation of this decision. We are also unaware of any effort to reach out to Members until the day the announcement was made. Unfortunately, the DOI is sowing the same seeds that lef to the mistrust and contention that necessitated the Norton-Leavitt agreeement.

This order gives the BLM immediate authority to "designate appropriate areas within wilderness characteristics under its jurisdiction as "wild lands' and to manage them to protect their wilderness values." We believe this order represents a considerable departure from the method of designating lands as "wilderness areas" specified in the WIlderness Act of 1964.

As you know, the Wilderness Act gives the U.S. Congress--and only the U.S. Congress--the power to designate public lands as protected "wilderness areas." Secretarial Order 3310 appears to be an underhanded attempt by DOI to circumvent Congress and the federal rulemaking process by designating potentially millions of acres of publicly owned lands in western states as de facto wilderness under a new, loosely defined "wild lands" category.

The directive states, "In accordance with Section 201 of FLPMA, the BLM shall maintain a current inventory of land under its jurisdiction and identify within that inventory lands with wilderness characteristics that are outside of the areas designated as Wilderness Study Areas that are pending before Congress or units of the National Wilderness Preservation System." In fact, Section 201 of FLPMA directs an inventory of all resources and resource valueson BLM lands and does not single out wilderness. By singling out wilderness characteristics, and ignoring other resources, Secretarial Order No. 3310 appears to be stacking the deck against multiple-use management. If a new inventory is going to occur, we suggest all multiple-use resources be included so a ratonal and responsible decision can be made on tradeoffs in management to best serve the public interest.

We believe public lands should be managed in a way that provides the greatest benefit to the public. The multiple-use philosophy--which encourages the environmentally responsible use of public lands for conservation, recreation, and economic purposes--is the best way to accomplish that goal. Multiple-use has been the bedrock for many rural western economies for decades.

Conversely, an ambiguous "wild lands" designation based on "wilderness characteristics" is not a good management approach. History shows this sort of arbitrary executive decision breeds conflict and acrimony and deters compromise. Indeed, we are convinced that proceeding with this order will only serve to create greater uncertainty, invite litigation, and create further division among the various public land stakeholders, environmental groups, and local communities.

We believe wilderness protection and economic activity can be accommodated, but discussion and compromise take time. If a portion of land is deserving of wilderness designation, the Administration should engage Congress, not attempt to work around it. This new "wild lands" policy introduces more uncertainty and will arbitrarily delay the reasonable use and development of our public lands. In order to prevent a collapse of several rural economies in the West and forestall continued uncertainty and job loss in western public land states, we urge you to withdraw Secretarial Order 3310 and work with Congress to devise balanced policies for our public lands.

Sincerely,

1. Rob Bishop (UT-01)
2. Marsha Blackburn (TN-07)
3. Kevin Brady (TX-08)
4. Paul Broun (GA-10)
5. Ann Marie Buerkle (NY-25)
6. John Campbell (CA-48)
7. Jason Chaffetz (UT-03)
8. Michael Conaway (TX-11)
9. Mike Coffman(CO-06)
10. Jeff Denham (CA-19)
11. John Duncan (TN-02)
12. Jeff Flake (AZ-06)
13. John Fleming (LA-04)
14. Bill Flores (TX-17)
15. Trent Franks (AZ-02)
16. Elton Gallegly (CA-24)
17. Scott Garrett (NJ-05)
18. Paul Gosar (AZ-01)
19. Phil Gingrey- (GA-11)
20. Joe Heck (NV-03)
21. Tim Huelskamp (KS-01)
22. Andy Harris (MD-01)
23. Vicky Hartzler (MO-04)
24. Dean Heller (NV-02)
25. Wally Herger (CA-02)
26. Darrell Issa (CA-49)
27. Steve King (IA- 05)
28. Raul Labrador (ID-01)
29. Doug Lamborn (CO-05)
30. Bob Latta- (OH- 05)
31. Cynithia Lummis (WY-at large)
32. Kenny Marchant (TX-24)
33. Kevin McCarthy (CA-22)
34. Buck McKeon (CA-25)
35. Tom McClintock (CA-04)
36. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05)
37. Devin Nunes (CA-21)
38. David P. Roe (TN-01)
39. Steve Pearce (NM-01)
40. Tom Price (GA-06)
41. Ted Poe (TX-02)
42. Steve Posey (FL -15)
43. Dennis Rehberg (MT --at large)
44. Scott Rigell (VA-02)
45. Mike Rogers (AL-03)
46. Steve Southerland (FL-02)
47. Greg Walden (OR-02)
48. Don Young ( AK- at large)

Senators
1. John Barrasso (R-WY)
2. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
3. John Thune (R-SD)
4. John Ensign (R-NV)
5. Mike Lee (R-UT)
6. Michael Enzi (R-WY)
7. John McCain (R-AZ)
8. Mike Johanns (R-NE)
9. Jon Kyl (R-AZ)


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