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It’s up to us

Aspen Times writer

Dear Editor:

Hats off to conservation groups and Rep. Diana DeGette for highlighting the Bush administration’s attack on wilderness (“Wilderness vs. gas drilling” April 30, Aspen Times). I can assure you this is a West-wide catastrophe and stretches far beyond the Bureau of Land Management selling lease parcels on lands that should be protected.

In January 2001, right after taking office, the Bush administration sent an internal memo to the Utah Bureau of Land Management stating that oil and gas exploration was to be their “number one priority,” trumping all other multiple-use mandates, especially wilderness.

After sending that memo, the Interior Department began critical planning efforts. They began to revise Resource Management Plans across the West, the planning documents that will determine which areas will be opened for oil and gas development and which areas will be protected as wilderness for the next 20 years. Right now in Utah, more than five million acres of citizen-proposed wilderness areas are up for grabs.

The Interior Department has shown that it would like to open up areas local people would like to see protected as wilderness, either in quarterly lease sales, back-room deals, or Resource Management Plan revisions. It is up to the public and our friends in Congress to ensure that one administration is not allowed to wipe out years of coalition building, collaborative efforts and wildlands protections all across the West.

Amy Winter

Denver

co-director

Coloradans for Utah Wilderness


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