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Wilderness Proposals Should Come from States

Wilderness Designations Require Congressional Approval in Addition to Local Support

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today issued the following comment in response to the Interior Department’s recommendation that 18 backcountry areas in nine states be designated as either wilderness or national conservation areas:

“The appropriate process for creating new wilderness areas on federal land is to petition Congress after the federal land management agencies have completed their land management plans and recommendations,” Murkowski said. “If a proposal has the support of a state’s congressional delegation and the support of local officials, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will give it full and careful consideration. Some of the areas included in today’s recommendation by the administration fall short of that mark.”

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee today approved a package of 28 lands bills, including several new wilderness designations, which demonstrates that the existing process for advancing wilderness is working just fine, Murkowski said. The bills passed by the committee on Thursday all had the support of a majority of the respective state’s lawmakers.

Murkowski, the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, warned that efforts to create new wilderness areas through executive order would be rejected by Congress.

In keeping with the promise Interior Secretary Ken Salazar made to Murkowski, none of the proposed new wilderness areas are in Alaska.

“The Alaska delegation remains united in its opposition to any additional lands in the state being permanently locked up as wilderness, and so I appreciate the Secretary’s recognition of that in his announcement,” Murkowski said.

The full list of Interior’s recommendations can be found here.

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