Decision on Wild Lands policy reversed

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar reversed his decision on the controversial Wild Lands policy on Wednesday, so the Bureau of Land Management will not be allowed to designate wilderness areas on its own, according to the American Motorcyclist Association.

Salazar had signed Secretarial Order 3310, which created a Wild Lands designation that would allow the BLM to manage public land as if Congress had declared it a wilderness area, but without needing congressional approval. That order was approved by Salazar on Dec. 22.

The off-highway vehicle community opposed the order because OHVs are prohibited from any lands designated wilderness land-use areas.

With Salazar’s reversal of his decision, the BLM, which is part of the Interior Department, will now work with Congress and others to identify appropriate land for designation for protection under the Wilderness Act.

“We will focus our effort on building consensus around locally supported initiatives and working with members [of Congress] to advance their priorities for wilderness designations in their states and districts,” Salazar said, according to an AMA press release.

AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman was pleased by Salazar’s announcement, and he thanked supporters for attending pertinent meetings and contacting their lawmakers.

“This is a major victory for motorcyclists and all-terrain vehicle riders and others concerned about appropriate access to public land,” he said. “But we must remain vigilant. Anti-access groups will continue pushing for legislation to inappropriately close off millions of acres of public land to OHVs. Not only are BLM lands under attack by these groups, but U.S. Forest Service land as well.”

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