The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is accepting public comments on proposed changes to its wilderness and ecosystem management plans that cover about 160,000 acres of public lands in southeast Arizona. BLM’s Wilderness and Ecosystem Plan Amendments relates to and is needed to implement a plan the agency put forth early this year—its ill-conceived Safford Field Office Vegetation Management Plan EA which proposes spreading herbicides across and burning up to 1.3 million acres of public lands, including tens of thousands of acres of Wilderness.
We get that it’s hard to be excited about writing to bureaucrats about amendments to management plans, but this has huge implications for Wilderness and wildlife on your public lands. So bear with us while we tell you more, then send your letter. Our Wildernesses and wildlife will be glad you did!
BLM’s existing wilderness and ecosystem management plans prohibit this level of manipulation in Wilderness and other protected areas, so the agency cannot implement its massive landscaping project without first adopting the proposed amendments. With the amendments and this project, BLM would carry out exactly the kind of manipulation the architects of the Wilderness Act sought to prevent and warned against when they described the role of wilderness stewards as “guardians, not gardeners.”
Please speak up today to stop these amendments (and ultimately this project)! Comments are due July 18.
BLM would spread herbicides across and burn tens of thousands of acres in the Aravaipa Canyon, Dos Cabezas Mountains, Fishhooks, North Santa Teresa, Peloncillo Mountains, and Redfield Canyon Wildernesses. These unique, rugged, and remote desert Wildernesses provide important habitat for pronghorn, mountain lion, white tail deer, black bear, elk, mule deer, desert bighorn sheep, golden and bald eagles, coyote, javelina, and other native wildlife.
BLM’s attempt to determine what vegetation grows where in these Wildernesses flies in the face of its obligation to preserve the areas’ wilderness character, which includes allowing natural processes to determine on-the-ground conditions. BLM plans to use helicopters to ignite fire, chainsaws and herbicides to remove “unwanted” vegetation, plus the proposed amendments radically increase the level of burning from what is currently allowed. The amendments violate the Wilderness Act, fail to offer alternatives, should have been included in the original EA, and warrant additional environmental analysis in the form of an environmental impact statement.
Urge the BLM to abandon its proposed Wilderness and Ecosystem Plan Amendments which it designed in order to implement its burn and poison plan. The agency needs to let these Wildernesses be and at a minimum, keep current protections in place.
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