Colorado environmental groups are sharply criticizing a move by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar that rescinds a sweeping order that could have made millions of acres of land across the West eligible for wilderness protection. But the Interior Department's reversal follows mounting criticism from oil and gas officials and some members of Congress.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says the Obama Administration is close to announcing how it will move forward with a controversial “Wild Lands” policy now that Congress has stripped funding for its implementation for this year.
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Now to a battle over funding and wording. In this year's budget compromise, conservation funding took a hit. A rider slipped into a bill put millions of acres of land back on the table for oil and gas drilling. One of those places is South Shale Ridge in western Colorado. It's not labeled as federally-protected wilderness, but the Interior Department had floated a different term for South Shale Ridge and other areas it wants to protect: Wild Lands.
Wilderness conservation took a hit as part of this year’s federal budget compromise. A rider slipped into the bill at the last minute has put millions of acres of land back on the table for oil and gas drilling. One of those places is South Shale Ridge in western Colorado. The area is not federally protected wilderness. So the conservation-minded Interior Department had floated a different term for places like it, “wild lands.” But that definition is now up in the air.