HJM 08: Dropping Wilderness Study Areas – 2019
ICL's position: Oppose
Current Bill Status: Passed
Issue Areas: Public Lands
House Joint Memorial 8 would ask the U.S. Congress to release over 500,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management wilderness study areas (WSAs) from interim protection.
Wilderness study areas have previously been identified as having outstanding value and remain in pristine condition. In 1991, the Bureau of Land Management reviewed 1.8 million acres and recommended 900,000 acres for congressional review and potential wilderness designation. Some of these acres were included in the 2009 Owyhee Initiative wilderness bill and the 2015 Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness bills.
The main objective of this HJM8 would be to remove pending protections from these important areas. This would leave hundreds of thousands of acres of pristine backcountry vulnerable to road construction and other forms of development that could harm water quality, wildlife habitat and wilderness values.
Instead, the legislature should encourage diverse stakeholders to come together to review these areas parcel by parcel, to identify which may be appropriate for wilderness designation and which could be released to general BLM management. In fact, the only way that WSAs have ever been released is through negotiated collaborative processes that have included all stakeholders.