BLM embraces concept behind local land use bill

The Bureau of Land Management has embraced a policy that may support a wilderness bill for San Juan County that is being developed by local officials.
The Department of Interior said it is an effort to build a bipartisan wilderness agenda. BLM officials are instructed to solicit suggestions and recommendations from state and local elected officials, tribes, and other federal land managers. The focus is to identify areas that deserve wilderness protection and have broad support for designation.
This fall, the Department of the Interior is expected to submit a list of “crown jewels” that it believes are ready for Wilderness designation, based on the combined input from Congressional, state, local and tribal partners.
It may include a proposal for local BLM lands that has been developed by San Juan County officials and others for two years.
In addition, the BLM announced that it will not designate any lands as “Wild Lands” under a policy that was announced less than one year ago.
Instead of administratively designating wilderness, the federal agency has done an about-face and embraced the locally-preferred option of designating wilderness by Congressional action after a public process that is driven, in San Juan County at least, by local officials.
The BLM will continue to maintain inventories of public lands and their resources and other values, including lands with wilderness characteristics.
Also, the BLM will consider the wilderness characteristics of public lands, in accordance with its multiple-use mandate, when undertaking land use planning and when making project-level decisions.

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