Outgoing Western Caucus Chairman Rob Bishop, R-Utah, and Senate Western Caucus Chairman John Barrasso, R-Wyo., along with 47 House Members and eight Senators, sent a letter to Department of Interior (DOI) Secretary Ken Salazar requesting that he withdraw Secretarial Order 3310, which creates a new Wild Lands classification for public lands. The letter cautions that the DOI’s Wild Lands policy will destroy jobs and severely handicap local economies.

“I am increasingly concerned by Secretary Salazar’s and the current administration’s ongoing efforts to circumvent Congress when it comes to creating new public lands policies. The DOI’s unilateral decisions regarding the management of our public lands and resources are detrimental to communities and businesses throughout the West. Their lack of regard for the impact this will have on local economies is unacceptable. It is time that they start taking into consideration the people that will be hurt by their decisions to operate in a vacuum, starting with the withdrawal of Secretarial Order 3310,” said Congressman Bishop. ““Why would anyone who wears a cowboy hat and boots in public work in private to hurt ranchers, outdoorsman and other western industries that depend upon access to our public lands. It makes no sense.”

Excerpts of the letter:

This directive will significantly impact western economies and rural communities, which depend on multiple-use access to federal lands.

We are also concerned that because this action was taken without input from Members of Congress and local officials, who would be affected by the order, the prospects of a cooperative working relationship about wilderness have been damaged.

We believe this order represents a considerable departure from the method for designating lands as "Wilderness Areas" specified in the Wilderness Act of 1964. 

As you know, the Wilderness Act gives the U.S. Congress -- and only the U.S. Congress -- the power to designate public lands as protected "Wilderness Areas."  Secretarial Order 3310 appears to be an underhanded attempt by DOI to circumvent Congress and the federal rulemaking process…

We believe public lands should be managed in a way that provides the greatest benefit to the public. 

Multiple-use has been the bedrock for many rural western economies for decades.

This new “wild lands” policy introduces more uncertainty and will arbitrarily delay the reasonable use and development of our public lands.  In order to prevent a collapse of several rural economies in the West and forestall continued uncertainty and job loss in western public land states, we urge you to withdraw Secretarial Order 3310 and work with Congress to devise balanced policies for our public lands.

View the full list of Representatives and Senators who supported the letter here.