Saturday, April 30, 2011

Utah sues feds over wildlands policy

(by Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Ted Wilson, Gov. Gary Herber's environmental adviser, joins Utah officials in announcing the state's lawsuit Friday against the federal wild lands policy.
Utah sued the Obama administration Friday over its new "wild lands" policy, becoming the first among several like-minded Western states to attempt to block "virtual wilderness" designations.
Gov. Gary Herbert announced the lawsuit Friday at the Utah Capitol, saying that he expects Alaska to do the same, while Idaho and Wyoming could join the Beehive State’s case.
Herbert warned that the wild lands policy creates a category of lands akin to wilderness without going through the proper congressional process. That puts a drag on resource development, he said, and "is not good for Utah. It’s not good for America."
"Some would like [lands] to be a single use: all wilderness, all just backpackers," the governor said. "That’s wrong."
Wilderness areas bar motorized access and many forms of resource development but allow primitive recreation and livestock grazing.
The Utah Attorney General’s Office filed the lawsuit against the U.S. Interior Department in Salt Lake City’s federal court.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the hotly disputed plan in December. It calls for a new inventory of roadless lands with wilderness characteristics that could be administratively protected.
John Swallow, Utah’s chief deputy attorney general, called that "virtual wilderness."

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