A wild surprise from Salazar

Secretary failed to consult with states - Community Perspective

By Stan Leaphart, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, January 30, 2024 [here]

Note: Stan Leaphart is executive director of the 12-member Citizens’ Advisory Commission on Federal Areas (CACFA), which monitors federal land management actions and assists Alaskans affected by them. Administratively, the commission lies within the state Department of Natural Resources. Its website is [here]

“My administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration.”

This is the opening paragraph of a memorandum signed January 21, 2009, by President Barack Obama, one day after his inauguration.

The memorandum goes on to state: “Executive departments and agencies should offer Americans increased opportunities to participate in policymaking and to provide their government with the benefits of their collective expertise and information.” Many Americans applauded this as proof that “hope and change” wasn’t just a beguiling campaign slogan.

Some 23 months later, on December 23, 2010, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar unveiled a secretarial order establishing a new policy for lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. This policy directs the BLM to inventory all lands it manages for their wilderness characteristics and creates a new classification of lands known as “Wild Lands.”

Salazar’s announcement was the first anyone outside the Department of the Interior knew about the Wild Lands policy, even though it was nearly two years in the making.

Governor Parnell’s office was informed of the program only hours before it was announced.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert, whose state in 2003 reached a settlement with Interior on new wilderness study areas, was afforded a similar courtesy.

In a letter to Salazar, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter of Idaho declared: “Without any state or public input, the Interior Department has circumvented the sovereignty of the states and the will of the public by shifting from the normal planning process of the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) to one that places significant authority in the hands of unelected federal bureaucrats.”

Secretary Salazar’s decision to unilaterally create and implement this policy contradicts both the President’s memorandum and the Department of the Interior’s own “Open Government Plan.” …

Salazar’s failure to allow the American public and the governments of the 43 states in which the BLM manages lands to participate in developing this policy or provide “their collective expertise and information” calls into question the department’s commitment to an open and transparent government.

One doubts Salazar would have ignored such a snub during his tenure as a U.S. senator or, prior to that, as Colorado’s attorney general. … [more]



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