Wild Thing, I Think I Lost You
In a major blow to wilderness advocates in Utah and around the country, the Bush administration on Friday announced its intention to suspend new wilderness reviews of federal lands in the West and to remove protections from nearly 3 million acres in Utah that had been under consideration for wilderness status. The Interior Department, in settling a lawsuit filed by the state of Utah, put a halt to Clinton-era policies that had encouraged the Bureau of Land Management to protect land while it was being assessed for wilderness qualities. The administration plans to cap at 22.8 million the number of acres eligible for future wilderness protection. This change could open up millions of pristine acres to mining, drilling, and road-building. Enviros are up in arms. “What they’re saying is these wilderness-quality lands throughout the West will continue to be degraded and continue to lose their eligibility for wilderness,” said Jim Angell of EarthJustice, an environmental law firm. “It’s just appalling.”
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