Babbitt Blasts Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act


Bruce Babbit, former Secretary of the Interior in the Clinton Administration, claims that the wolf delisting rider was the wake-up call that brought him back into the foray on public land and wildlife issues.  Now he’s taking aim at a piece of legislation that would capitalize on Congress’s slow action and open up greater than 50 million acres that is currently protected as Wilderness Study Areas and inventoried roadless areas.

Babbitt blasts ‘radical’ GOP bill on public landsAP

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., “is the most radical, overreaching attempt to dismantle the architecture of our public land laws that has been proposed in my lifetime,” Babbitt said Tuesday at a House hearing on the bill.

“Simply put, it trades protection of wildlife habitat, clean water and clean air for corporate profits. It is nothing more than a giveaway of our great outdoors,” Babbitt said.

This comes following Babbitt’s significant criticism of the Obama Administration in failing to give voice to America’s public land and wildlife heritage.  It’s heartening to see such prominent resistance to the myriad right-wing insults being introduced in Congress.  It’d be more heartening to see the same from the current Interior Secretary.

H.R.1581 — Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act of 2011

Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act of 2011 – Releases public lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) pursuant to the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 that have not been designated as wilderness and identified by BLM as not suitable for designation as wilderness from further study for wilderness designation. Makes such lands no longer subject to the Act’s requirement pertaining to the management of wilderness study areas in a manner that does not impair suitability for preservation as wilderness.

Releases inventoried roadless areas within the National Forest System that have not been designated as wilderness and were not recommended for designation as wilderness as a result of the second roadless area review and evaluation program (RARE II) or the subsequent revision of a land resource management plan, from further study for wilderness designation. Makes such System lands no longer subject to management to maintain roadless character and values and to comply with other land-use restrictions of the Roadless Area Conservation Rule, as amended by the Roadless Area Conservation Final Rule (2001) and the State Petitions for Inventoried Roadless Area Management Final Rule (2005).



  1. Mike Avatar

    It’s nice to see Babbitt standing up for what’s right. If only someone in the White House did the same.

  2. Alan Gregory Avatar

    No guts, no glory, was the saying around one of the U.S. Air Force bases I served at during my 26-year career in uniform. Mr. Babbitt has shown again what he’s made of. Now if only the president and his staff would follow suit.

  3. PointsWest Avatar

    Great…the Republican crash the economy with a financial crisis. Then they do everything they can to make certain that it does not recover on Obama’s watch, and now they are using the excuse of a bad economy open up wilderness to logging, mining, and drilling.

    It is sick. Anyone know of another good planet I could move to?

  4. Janine Blaeloch Avatar

    It’s the wildlife haters who need to find another planet.

    I’m no fan of Babbitt, since he was himself a champion of public land giveaways and pretty much invented “collaborative,” “stakeholder”-designed, quid pro quo wilderness with the horrible Steens deal. But it’s good to see someone call out Salazar, possibly the worst Interior Secretary since Watt. (Norton was awful, but she didn’t pretend otherwise). Having a president with no feeling for public land or wildlife means we have Salazar and the terrible David Hayes in charge of it all.

    1. Larry Thorngren Avatar

      We have a president with no feelings about anything alive. He is a stone cold killer when it comes to bombing other countries and killing people.
      His lack of feeling toward wildlife goes right along with the rest of his personality.

      1. JB Avatar

        They would love your commentary on Faux News, Larry. Good grief!

  5. Daniel Berg Avatar
    Daniel Berg

    Always trying to get their hands in the cookie jar….The funny thing about all this is that if our country had always been run by the self-serving, greedy jerks that are continuously trying to exploit our natural areas, most of those areas would have already been pillaged decades ago.

  6. Virginia Avatar

    Come on, Larry. Your statement is pretty radical and I am calling you on it. To call President Obama a stone cold killer – please. I am not happy at all with Salazar who I believe is calling the shots on environment, wildlife, etc. Can you try to think about all of the issues Obama has to deal with?

  7. Phil Avatar

    This is great news that finally someone who is prominent on wildlife issues is stepping to the plate and doing something about all these attacks on ecosystems and wildlife. Combine this story with the one where Dems and Reps turned down the Extinction Bill, hopefully they’re just the stepping stones of good things to come for wildlife.

  8. Brian Ertz Avatar

    the standard by which we evaluate a politician’s performance as it relates to wildlife, conservation, public lands, and environment ought be the conditions on the ground and the tangible exercise of power deployed to better them – the standard ought NOT be based on how the other politicians might be worse.

    As soon as an advocate’s standard becomes how other politicians/parties will be so much worse – the advocate relinquishes any influence/leverage that might help to improve the current politician/party’s performance.

    1. Maska Avatar

      I wholeheartedly agree, Brian.

      Also, I reject the idea that it is Salazar who is calling the shots and that this somehow lets Obama off the hook for the administration’s actions on wildlife and public lands. Remember the little sign that President Harry Truman had on his desk: “The buck stops here.” That still applies. Obama appointed Salazar. He has continued to keep him on the job. Obama is ultimately responsible for all actions of his appointees–for better or worse.

  9. wedo43 Avatar

    I don’t get it. This is land that the bureaucracies themselves have deemed “as not suitable for designation as wilderness from further study for wilderness designation” as defined in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976. A subsequent later review (RAREII)re-confirms the gov’t findings. I don’t see anything in there about corporations using this as a tool for profits. I DO see that as an american citizen, these lands that THE GOV’T HAS DEEMED outside the bounds of their authority, belong to me, you and every other american taxpayer. I for one would welcome the opportunity to hunt on the land without having to pay thousands of dollars to a landowner, or camp, hike, fish, explore via OHV, climb, etc.
    The Gov’t owns and has restricted billions of acre’s that belong to us all. I salute efforts to preserve pristine wilderness and protect out ecology, however, if the Gov’t deems certain parcels as outside their concern, then I say “This land is your land, this land is my land, from California….”

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Brian Ertz