Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued a new wild lands policy memorandum on June 1. The memorandum follows a Congressional prohibition on April 14 of the use of appropriated funds to implement, administer, or enforce Secretarial Order 3011 during fiscal year 2011. The memorandum directs Interior Deputy Secretary Hayes to “work with the BLM and interested parties to develop recommendations regarding the management of BLM lands with wilderness characteristics.” The Memorandum appears below.
THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR
JUN 0.1 2011
To: Director, Bureau of Land Management
Re: Wilderness Policy
Congressionally approved wilderness areas are an important part of the conservation assets of the
United States. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) currently manages 221 wilderness areas
and 545 wilderness study areas designated by Congress, which comprise approximately
8.8 percent of the nearly 245 million acres managed by the BLM.
There is longstanding support for the designation of wilderness areas. A number of proposed
wilderness designations are pending before the I 12th Congress, and other areas are being actively
considered for additions to the wilderness system. Wilderness areas provide a number of
benefits, including unique hunting, fishing, and recreational opportunities.
The BLM maintains an inventory of all lands under its jurisdiction, pursuant to Section 20 I of
the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA). As these inventories confirm,
the BLM manages large landscapes that have wilderness characteristics.
On December 22,2010, I issued Secretarial Order 3310 to address the BLM’s management of
wilderness resources on lands under its jurisdiction. Under Secretarial Order 3310, I ordered
the BLM to use the public resource management planning process to designate certain lands with
wilderness characteristics as “Wild Lands.”
On April 14, 20 II, the United States Congress passed the Department of Defense and Full-Year
Continuing Appropriations Act, 201 1 (Pub. L. 1 12-1 0)(20 1 1 CR), which includes a provision
(Section 1769) that prohibits the use of appropriated funds to implement, administer, or enforce
Secretarial Order 3310 in Fiscal Year 2011.
I am confirming today that, pursuant to the 20 II CR, the BLM will not designate any lands as
As required by law, the BLM will continue to maintain inventories of lands under its jurisdiction,
including lands with wilderness characteristics. Also, consistent with FLPMA and other
applicable authorities, the BLM will consider the wilderness characteristics of public lands when
undertaking its multiple use land use planning and when making project-level decisions. In that
regard, I am directing Deputy Secretary David Hayes to work with the BLM and interested
parties to develop recommendations regarding the management of BLM lands with wilderness
CWF’s view” The wild lands policy announced in December 2010 has been popular with wildlife enthusiasts and other outdoor recreationists. It would have provided access to public lands in balance with other uses such as oil and gas leasing. Even now, some important wildlife habitat is approaching a tipping point due to a combination of factors, including development. The Memorandum notes that the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 requires the BLM to maintain inventories of all of its lands, including wilderness characteristics. It is unclear how BLM will evaluate back country lands with such characteristics when determining uses of such lands (such as for oil and gas leasing) as there is now no guidance for such decision making, pending the work that the Memorandum instructs Deputy Secretary Hayes to undertake.