For those of you living east of the Mighty Mississippi, the term “wilderness” probably doesn’t have a lot of meaning to you.
On the eastern side of the country you probably think of wilderness as a place where Daniel Boone went to get away from the wife and kids for a while.
Or maybe you’ve seen the old soft-shoe from the environmental lobby that all of the undeveloped land in the west is nothing but soaring cliffs, magnificent canyons, majestic forests and pristine lakes.
And some of it is. But not all of it.
Much of it isn’t worth a plug nickel beyond the resources that lie beneath it and its availability for recreation.
Much of the area that the environmentalists are championing as wilderness is flat and dry, filled with scrub brush and sharp rocks and is about as majestic as a mud fence.
And the point has been made ad infinitum that the under the banner of climate change, the Administration will force Americans to switch to “marketable” forms of energy such as wind, solar and unicorn whiz.
That way, we buy tiny little peanut mobiles and clean energy products from responsible companies like Fisker and Solyndra, so that maybe all that DOE money will not have been a total loss.
One of the best ways to turn off the energy spigot is to take an area that has natural gas oil and declare it wilderness. Even if it has the aesthetic value of a flat tire.
What would wilderness look like in the Eastern U.S.?
Well take a sizeable chunk of Any Town USA, say yours for example, and declare it off-limits to anything but hiking fishing or hunting.
Never mind what else you could do with the land, no matter if it was utterly devoid of scenic vistas and glorious pine trees, never mind the potential to build a store, or a school or put in a playground it is now off limits to anything but a handful of uses.
That is wilderness to enviros.
I have yet to meet anyone who is completely opposed to the idea of wilderness areas. Even pro-multiple use advocates agree that wilderness areas have a place.
But the problem is that the environmental community continues to demand more and more wilderness areas, and the Department of the Interior seems determined to grant their wish.
Now keep in mind, Congress and only Congress can create wilderness- and you thought all this time that only God could create a tree. God didn’t have the power of liberal activist judges.
You and I can’t do it and even presidential cabinet members can’t do it.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was reminded of that in April of last year when Congress killed Secretarial Order 3310 which created the new lands designation: Wild Lands.
The order also gave instructions on how identify and manage lands as wilderness without having to go through that pesky Congressional process.
One would have thought that was the end of the story; however the Secretary recently attempted to sneak through a new manual which again gives the BLM the ability to create wilderness without so much as a by-your-leave from Congress or the American people.
In fact, the language in these new manuals is in some places taken directly from the de-funded Secretarial Order. The DOI must have figured that de-funding a Secretarial Order applies only to the order in question, not subsequent versions of it.
Congress was clear: the DOI does not have the power to create wilderness, only members of the House can do that. But Salazar seems determined to sneak wilderness in like a teenager hiding beer under his jacket at a high school prom.
In some places, land managers are directed to look for areas that may not have been wilderness in the past, but may have reverted to wilderness in the present.
According to the Wilderness Act, 5,000 acres are required to designate an area, but the manual tells managers to look for roadless “islands” in the landscape, even those less that the requisite 5,000 acres.
Wilderness must not show the presence of man, but the manual directs managers to overlook “minor impacts” that are “unnoticeable.”
Whether one is for more wildernesses or completely opposed to it, the idea that a cabinet member can ignore the law of the land should still be a startling thought, however commonplace it’s become.But in the Obama era, ignoring the law of the land has become the law of the land.