4:36pm

Thu February 3, 2011
Environment

Colorado Officials Sign on to Interior Wilderness Plan

A group of 70 mostly Democratic elected officials from around Colorado have sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar praising a recent decision that could extend wilderness protections to millions of new acres of western lands.

Salazar is in the process of implementing a secretarial order announced in Denver late last year which could bring more wilderness protection to Bureau of Land Management lands. Oil and gas industry officials argue the order effectively closes off land that contains key domestic energy supplies.

But Suzanne Jones, executive director of the Wilderness Society's Central Rockies office, disagrees.

"I think this letter is in response to some of their perceived opposition to this new wild lands policy," Jones says. "And these local, elected officials in Colorado wanted to say, hey, wait a minute, we think this is a good policy and it makes good common sense and it restores balance to our public lands."

The letter sent Thursday was signed by numerous Democratic state legislators, county commissioners and town council members from mountain areas like Breckenridge and Basalt.