4:26 PM EDT
Norm Dicks, D-WA 6th

Mr. DICKS. Section 124 prohibits expenditures for the Bureau of Land Management to carry out its duties under section 201 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976. Secretarial order 3310 states a policy that the Bureau of Land Management should act consistently with section 201 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act and maintain a current inventory of land under its jurisdiction, and identify within that inventory the resource values, including wilderness, of those lands.

Despite what some have claimed, it does not create de facto wilderness. It returns BLM wilderness policy to the way it operated for 27 years before being unilaterally changed by then Interior Secretary Gale Norton in 2003. It directs the BLM to develop recommendations to Congress regarding wilderness land designation, and it directs public involvement in the development of those recommendations.

Section 124 removes the requirement for public involvement and removes the requirement for the BLM to provide recommendations to Congress. Section 124 doesn't prevent Congress from designating wilderness; it just prevents us from being properly informed before we consider these designations.

Secretarial order 3310 is the kind of good government process that encourages public involvement and forward thinking. As a demonstration of that forward thinking, the Secretary reached out to Congress in June asking for Members' input into the wilderness characteristics of land within their districts. I'm not sure what more we can ask for from the BLM and the Secretary but an open public process, as Mr. Moran has stated.

Section 124 seeks to foreclose that process, a process that the majority in the committee report on H.R. 2584 applauded. These wild lands have real benefit--economic, environmental, and aesthetic. It's important that we protect not only public land in its natural state but our ability to make informed decisions about what areas should or should not be designated wilderness. We need the Secretarial order, and we need to be informed.

I yield to the gentleman from California if he would like to make a final comment here.