“Senate amendment 166, would remove protections from all wilderness study areas which the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has recommended be designated as Wilderness.
“If enacted, this amendment would be the largest rollback on land conservation that we’ve seen in decades,” said Brian O’Donnell, Executive Director, Conservation Lands Foundation. “Ninety percent of the lands managed by the BLM are already available to oil and gas drillers. Efforts to undermine the protection of places that provide us with clean water, places to hunt, and preserve sacred places are a slap in the face to Americans who strongly support the protection of our public lands.”
Wilderness study areas are an invaluable set of lands throughout the West that have been identified for protection because they have a unique character, provide critical wildlife habitat and outstanding recreational opportunities and preserve our cultural and historic resources. If enacted into law, the amendment would eliminate protections for more than five million acres of wilderness study areas making them vulnerable to mining, oil and gas drilling and overdevelopment.
“Removing protections for millions of acres of public lands is an affront to the huge number of Americans who cherish these lands for recreation. It would have a major negative impact on the outdoor recreation industry, which is a $646 billion-dollar part of our nation’s economy,” said John Sterling, Executive Director, Conservation Alliance, a group of outdoor businesses that support conservation initiatives. “Outdoor businesses rely on protected public lands and intact outdoor places. This approach is a huge step backwards for conservation in America and one that our businesses strongly oppose.”