Budget deal defunds Wild Lands Initiative
Republican congressmen and President Obama reached an agreement in early April that will result in federal expenditure budget cuts.
Nearly half of the proposed cuts are not much more than accounting adjustments from previously-approved, but unused, expenditures.
While many Americans may find it difficult to notice the cuts that led to the budget agreement, the impact may be clearly noticed on federally-managed lands in San Juan County.
One of the budget cuts strips funding for the proposed Wild Lands Initiative. The initiative called for a reinventory of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land and may have resulted in new wilderness study areas in San Juan County. The reinventory will not take place under the new budget agreement.
The Wild Lands Initiative was announced in December, 2010 by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. The initiative once again gave the BLM the ability to designate wilderness administratively, overturning a 2003 Bush Administration policy that stated that only the Congress could designate wilderness.
The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) recently released the “Petition for Protection of Greater Canyonlands” which urges Salazar to limit ATV traffic on up to 1.2 million acres of BLM land that SUWA claims is eligible for wilderness designation.