If Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar wants more “wilderness” in Box Elder County, he is in for a fight. That was the declaration from commissioners, both during their regular meeting and by letter to Utah Bureau of Land Management Director Juan Palma.
Their stated position came after Commission Chair Brian Shaffer received a letter from Palma, at the request of Salazar, asking the commissioners to make “potential recommendation” of BLM lands within the county that could be identified as wilderness.
The letter, in part said, “The Secretary indicated that he wants to work with Members of Congress, States, Tribes and local communities to identify candidates for Congressional designation. While only Congress may enact legislation designating wilderness, Secretary Salazar plans on sending his recommendations to Congress by mid-October on ‘crown jewels’ for their consideration.”
Box Elder’s commissioners, along with state officials, have been battling with the Interior Secretary since he tried to implement Executive Order 3310 last December, which allowed lands the BLM considered as future wilderness to be designated as “Wild Lands” and taken out of public use. Ten areas in Box Elder County would have fallen under that designation. The county commissioners openly declared Order 3310 illegal. Salazar eventually rescinded the order following pressure from Congress, who ‘defunded’ it, at least until October.
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