WASHINGTON (December 23, 2010 ) -- An order issued today by Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar affirms the Bureau of Land Management's obligation to protect lands with wilderness characteristics. This is a critical step forward in protecting the country’s public lands, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The following is a statement by Sharon Buccino, director of NRDC’s Land and Wildlife Program:
"Today’s announcement changes everything and lands the public was so close to losing can be protected. Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar has reaffirmed the value of what wilderness means. More than 10 million acres across the West have wilderness characteristics, such as Utah's Upper Desolation Canyon, Wyoming's Adobe Town and New Mexico's Otero Mesa, but have not been designated as wilderness by Congress. Prior to Salazar's order, we were losing these areas one by one as new roads were bull-dozed across them for oil and gas drilling rigs."