Bush protects wildlands in New Mexico, New England

Back in 2004, the Bush administration tried to clear the way for energy drilling next to the nation’s largest Boy Scout camp in Valle Vidal, N.M. The drilling never commenced, in large part thanks to resistance from ranchers, hunters, environmentalists, 17 local governments, three chambers of commerce, all of the state’s congressfolk, and, yes, Boy Scouts. (Presumably, resident elk and other wildlife would have objected too, given a voice.) Caving to the pressure, the president has — how shall we say? — flip-flopped on the issue. This week, Bush signed a measure to protect the 101,794-acre Valle Vidal from energy and mineral development, apparently agreeing with conservationist Terry Riley that some places “are just too important for fish and wildlife resources to drill for oil and gas.” Earlier this month, Bush also signed a bill designating as wilderness 76,500 acres of national forest in New Hampshire and Vermont. If this is what bipartisan cooperation looks like, we’ll take it.