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Second Regular Session

Sixty-first General Assembly

LLS NO. R98­0770.01 BWM


Agriculture, Natural

Resources And Energy

BY SENATORS Ament, Alexander, Bishop, Chlouber, Dennis, Hopper, Norton, and Wattenberg;

also REPRESENTATIVES Smith, Alexander, G. Berry, George, Johnson, Miller, Reeser, Schauer, Spradley, Taylor, and Young.



WHEREAS, In 1997, the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) initiated in Colorado a wilderness reinventory of public lands beginning in northwest Colorado and including lands in Moffat, Mesa, Rio Blanco, Garfield, Montrose, Eagle, Delta, Fremont, Teller, El Paso, Chaffee, Montezuma, Hinsdale, Pitkin, San Miguel, Dolores, Conejos, and Gunnison Counties; and

WHEREAS, To date, six areas in northwest Colorado have been reinventoried by the BLM for wilderness designation potential and are being managed to protect the wilderness values as the review process proceeds; and

WHEREAS, By managing lands as potential wilderness areas, the BLM has determined to hold oil and gas leasing in abeyance and to limit other discretionary multiple uses on such lands until Congress determines whether the areas qualify for wilderness designation under the federal "Wilderness Act"; and

WHEREAS, Numerous questions have been raised regarding the BLM's authority to reinventory these lands for wilderness designation, and what, if any, meaningful public review occurred; and

WHEREAS, All Colorado BLM lands were reviewed under the original wilderness inventory process as directed under the wilderness provisions of Section 603 of the federal "Land Policy Management Act" (FLPMA) and officially completed in November 1980, after numerous public hearings, and certain lands were recommended as wilderness and sent to the United States Congress for action with other lands recommended to be returned to multiple use status; and

WHEREAS, Since Section 603 of FLPMA required the BLM to complete the wilderness inventory and make recommendations to Congress by 1991, and, therefore, the 1997 reinventory of lands for wilderness designation potential appears to be without authority; and

WHEREAS, The majority of lands currently selected for wilderness reinventory in 1997 were rejected in the 1980's as not meeting wilderness criteria; and

WHEREAS, Neither the law nor the regulations have changed, but the BLM appears to be reinterpreting wilderness criteria in order to increase the amount of land eligible for consideration for wilderness designation by reevaluating approximately one million acres of land even though such land did not previously meet wilderness criteria; and

WHEREAS, Recently, the United States Secretary of the Interior has acknowledged that the BLM's authority to conduct a wilderness reinventory under Section 603 of FLPMA has expired and now claims BLM's authority comes from the general land use planning provisions contained in Sections 201 and 202 of FLPMA; and

WHEREAS, Even though the authority in question is in dispute and unresolved pending the outcome of litigation in federal court in Utah and the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, the BLM in Colorado continues to expend federal resources in continuing a wilderness reinventory and denying discretionary multiple uses on such public lands; now, therefore,

Be It Resolved by the Senate of the Sixty­first General Assembly of the State of Colorado, the House of Representatives concurring herein:

That, we the members of the General Assembly hereby request:

(1)  That BLM lands that have historically been open for public use in Colorado continue to be managed to allow multiple uses until the United States Congress clarifies the federal "Wilderness Act" to specify whether the BLM has authority to reinventory these lands for wilderness after 1991;

(2)  That the United States Congress place a moratorium on any further funding to the BLM for the purpose of carrying out such wilderness reinventory;

(3)  That the United States Congress clarify the wilderness designation process to make it consistent and allow ample public input at all phases of the process; and

(4)  That federal funds for wilderness inventories be appropriated only upon a vote of the United States Congress that additional wilderness inventories are necessary and the process is fair for all multiple use constituencies in the western United States.

Be It Further Resolved, That copies of this Resolution be transmitted to the President of the United States, the United States Secretary of the Interior, the Director of the United States Bureau of Land Management, the President of the United States Senate, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, and to each member of Colorado's delegation in the United States Congress.