Saturday, June 4, 2011

Wild Lands Reversal Threatens a $289 Billion National Recreation Industry?

In a memo published on Wednesday of this week, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued this statement:

On December 22, 2010, I issued Secretarial Order 3310 to address the BLM's management of wilderness resources on lands under its jurisdiction. Under Secretarial Order 3310, I ordered the BLM to use the public resource management planning process to designate certain lands with wilderness characteristics as "Wild Lands."

On April 14, 20 II, the United States Congress passed the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 201 1 (Pub. L. 1 12-1 0)(20 1 1 CR), which includes a provision (Section 1769) that prohibits the use of appropriated funds to implement, administer, or enforce Secretarial Order 3310 in Fiscal Year 2011.

I am confirming today that, pursuant to the 20 II CR, the BLM will not designate any lands as "Wild Lands."

Later that same day, in response, the Outdoor Industry Association issued this press release:

A decision by the Department of the Interior today to not implement the Bureau of Land Management Wild Lands policy threatens the very infrastructure supporting the nation’s recreation economy, according to the Outdoor Industry Association.

Active outdoor recreation increasingly fuels the U.S. economy and is a primary driver in regional and local economies across the West. The growth in activities such as hiking, paddling, hunting, fishing and wildlife watching contributes $730 billion annually to the U.S. economy, drives $289 billion in retail sales and supports 6.5 million jobs.

However, the announcement today by Secretary Salazar to reverse his December 2010 decision to allow the Bureau of Land Management to inventory and manage BLM lands as ‘wild lands’ is a step backwards for the nation.

“The real losers in this decision are the American people and the communities that rely on outdoor recreation to support their local economies,” said Frank Hugelmeyer, president and CEO of Outdoor Industry Association. “Outdoor recreation is a core component of balanced, sustainable economies in every community across the country. Our nation’s wilderness and additional backcountry lands and waters – 245 million acres of Wilderness just within BLM – are the essential infrastructure that allows Americans to hike, hunt, watch wildlife, camp and fish.”

The outdoor industry will continue to work with the Obama administration and Congress on the development of policies protecting Wilderness and lands with wilderness characteristics to ensure that recreation is given equal consideration with traditional agricultural, timber and extractive industries for its ability to provide sustainable, domestic employment and balanced local economies.

The way I see it, this reversal simply goes back to the status quo. So how can the nation’s recreational economy be threatened? With all else being equal, local economies should see the same amount of revenues as they have in the past. Seems like the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) is engaging in a bit of hyperbole. Moreover, it seems that OIA is overlooking the economic impact of BLM policies on non-recreational users of BLM lands in their analysis.

For more information on the BLM Wild Lands Policy, you can click here, here and here.


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