Utah Republican to attack Interior wilderness policy with ‘whatever mechanism’ possible

Bishop and other critics allege it’s an end-run around congressional power to designate which public lands have wilderness protections.

“This is not the way to build trust with Congress, and this is not good policy,” Bishop told reporters in the Capitol.

He plans hearings on the matter and alleges the policy will harm education by blocking activities that bring in local revenues in western regions.

“The ability to fund education in the west is determined [by] how you can develop the resources on lands,” Bishop said. “If he [Salazar] actually goes through with what he is threatening to do with this proposal, it hurts kids in the West, it hurts education in the West.”

The new policy overturns a 2003 deal between then-Interior Secretary Gale Norton and the state of Utah that became known as the “no more wilderness” policy.

Interior spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff defended the policy.

“Secretary Salazar’s goal is to restore balance to the management of public lands and to affirm the BLM’s obligation to maintain wilderness resource inventories on a regular and continuing basis for the public lands under its jurisdiction,” she said in a statement.

“We look forward to working with Congress moving forward so we can make wise choices, informed by science, for our children, grandchildren and future generations,” Barkoff added.