Designating lands as wilderness or some other highly protected status always is contentious, but the BLM has identified 24 areas in 9 western states the agency says have significant local support for this idea. The agency identified these prospects in a report released Nov. 10, 2011. The states are CA (9 areas), CO (3), ID (1), MT (1), NM (2), NV (2), OR (2), UT (3), and WA (1).
- "Preliminary Report on BLM Lands Deserving Protection as National Conservation Areas, Wilderness, or Other Conservation Designations" (each area is mapped and briefly described); press release; media, Megan Crandall, 202-912-7411.
It's up to Congress to approve such a designation, and the current political climate suggests any new approvals would be difficult, even with local support. But the discussion about these areas likely will heat up now that the BLM has given them its imprimatur.
Sources for your coverage will include local environmental groups, property rights groups, recreational groups of all stripes, owners of the designated lands and those in surrounding areas, local and state government officials, pertinent US House and Senate representatives, and local and national BLM officials.