National Forest Legal News Blog


Congressional Letter Blasts Recommended Wilderness Areas

Posted by nationalforestlawblog at 10:53 AM on April 22, 2010

"Key Members of Congress oppose de facto wilderness designations" begins this article at  The agency has proposed managing recommended wilderness areas as wilderness in case they ever get designated.  However, the Congressional letter slams the Forest Service for thinking that it has authority to make, what amounts to, a legislative decision.


The letter notes that only Congress has the authority to designate wilderness areas.

“The law is crystal clear that the power to designate wilderness rests squarely and solely with the Congress. It is a baseless, twisted reading of the law to suggest that Congress intended to allow an agency to administratively declare an area as recommended for wilderness designation and then to manage that area exactly as if Congress had taken action to make such a designation.”

The 18 signers of the letter also point out the importance of involving the public in making wilderness designations,

“Wilderness designations are not actions that should be taken lightly, which is why the Act was specific in restricting the ability to make designations to Congress so as to ensure a careful, public, and deliberative process. This is the proper approach. The congressional process allows for local stakeholder involvement and makes certain that those impacted have a true voice through the representative branch of government. While not perfect, this process allows local citizens, many of whom have livelihoods dependent upon activities potentially affected by the public lands in question, to have their voices heard.”


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