Recent letter to the editor by Liz Howell:
TO THE EDITOR:
It’s been since 1991when the BLM
last did a full inventory of their lands for wilderness characteristics. That’s
20 years ago. A lot has happened to Wyoming in those decades. 30,000 wells were
drilled in the Powder River Basin, along with the associated power lines,
roads, pipelines, compressor stations, etc. There were 35,359
producing wells in 2009 statewide and over 751 million dollars, in severance
taxes from 2009 production,
paid out to the feds and state, according to the Petroleum Association of
Wyoming. Lots of wealth, lots of abundance and much land used up. No one is
saying that we haven’t benefited greatly from this abundance of exploiting our
energy resources in Wyoming. It is a
resource to be exploited, but our long-term plan for the future is being
So isn’t it about time to take a
tally as to what’s still undeveloped, and left over from the boom times of
drilling and mining in Wyoming? Are
there any places left that are un-leased, un-drilled, un-roaded and still
represent the primitive landscapes of 200 years ago? I can only say, not many. The vast majority
of public lands in Wyoming are used up, and it did benefit us all in many ways.
What is left over, more than likely, is for a defined reason—that they don’t
have the potential for oil or gas.
Secretary Ken Salazar is giving
Wyoming a chance for a bit of redemption. On December 23rd the Secretarial Order 3310 directs the
BLM, based on the input of the public and local communities through its
existing land management planning process, to designate appropriate areas with
wilderness characteristics under its jurisdiction as "Wild Lands" and
to manage them to protect their wilderness values.
Surely we are wealthy and
economically healthy enough to want to preserve some remnants of lands with
wilderness characteristics for future generations, for big game habitat, for
clean water, for solitude and quiet experiences in desert landscapes. That’s
what his policy is allowing us to do.
Write you own letter to the editor and help us show support for new wilderness in Wyoming!
The BLM has not looked at these
areas in two decades, so to be able to actually take stock of what’s out
there--and if its not leased, motorized, drilled, roaded, mined or developed--then
we have this chance to set it aside.
The Department of Interior’s
“Multiple Use Lands with Wilderness Characteristics” process starts with a
complete inventory of what lands “look” primitive. The first step is to look at the wilderness
characteristics of BLM lands reviewing the following basic criteria: 1. It is
over 5,000 acres or adjacent to existing protected area; 2. It’s primarily
influenced by the processes of nature, has a natural appearance; 3. It provides
an experience of solitude.
The second part of the process is to determine the “manageability” of the area:
1. Does it have existing leases or development that will conflict with
wilderness? 2. Is there existing motorized use that would conflict with
wilderness? The BLM has only carried out the first part in the Big Horn Basin,
and the lands in their inventory have not been screened for manageability yet.
The screening, during the management planning process, will reduce down to
small, undeveloped remnants of lands with wilderness characteristics. Still,
know that wilderness is, yes, land that serves many multiple uses – clean water
and air, highest-quality wildlife habitat and hunting, diverse recreation, and
Our elected officials have jumped
into the deep end of opposition to this process, I think, without the knowledge
of the whole process. Wyoming is a great place to live, raise our children,
recreate, hunt, fish, and pack. Some of the best parts of Wyoming are in our
still-wild basins, canyons and high plains. Not one acre with oil and gas
potential will get through this process as a recommended “Wild Lands” area, so
please relax all. Let’s take stock of Wyoming’s BLM lands and see what actually
survived the most intense energy development period Wyoming has ever seen, and
let’s consider putting it in the preservation bank for our future.
Wyoming Wilderness Association
307 672-2751 office
PO Box 6588
Sheridan, WY 82801
for more information on what to write about and where to send it! We need your help and support so please ACT NOW!