WASHINGTON - April 27 - The Bush Administration's increasingly controversial efforts to hand over Western wilderness and other valuable public lands to the oil and gas industry continue to accelerate: On May 13, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will sell 77 parcels on a staggering diversity of Colorado wildlands. Thirty-one of the parcels are in a Citizens' Wilderness Proposal endorsed by more than 300 citizen organizations, businesses, and local governments. The lease sale also impacts several national forest roadless areas, including roadless lands along Thompson Creek in the White River National Forest. This land includes the largest concentration of old growth spruce-fir on the White River National Forest and perhaps the largest aspen forest in the world, together providing important habitat for elk, goshawk, lynx, and cutthroat trout. Other lands offered in the May 13 lease sale include important wildlife habitat and safeguard sensitive species, while others offer unique recreational and related economic values.
The Colorado sale follows recent contentious lease sales in Colorado and Utah. It represents the latest direct on-the-ground impact of last year's secret deal cut by Interior Department Secretary Gale Norton and former Utah Governor Mike Leavitt, which prohibited BLM from protecting future wilderness on any of its land in any state. The deal also prohibited BLM declaration of new Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) and limited the agency's ability to provide interim protection for lands that are not WSAs. At this media teleconference, Colorado Congresswoman Diana DeGette (who has introduced wilderness legislation that includes lands threatened by the lease sale), Pitkin County Commissioner Dorothea Farris, and other experts will discuss details and implications of the controversial sale.
WHAT: Media teleconference
WHEN: Thursday, April 29, 11 a.m. Eastern, 9 a.m. Mountain, 8 a.m. Pacific
-- Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.)
-- Dorothea Farris, Pitkin County (Colorado) Commissioner
-- Pete Kolbenschlag, Colorado Environmental Coalition
-- Steve Torbit, National Wildlife Federation
-- William R. Tennison, Jr., owner of Crystal Meadows Ranch
-- Suzanne Jones, The Wilderness Society
NOTE: This teleconference is for reporters only