Abbey gets earful at meeting
There was not enough room at the inn for the crowd, many of whom sported yellow or red badges depending on their point of view, that showed up on Friday at the Utah State Capitol for a meeting of the governors Balanced Resource Committee.
But that didn't keep Bob Abbey, national Director of the United States Bureau of Land management from telling everyone that he doubted the issue of wild lands in the United States would ever be settled after Utah Governor Gary Herbert, who was also at the meeting said the BLM "should make a decision and live with it."
"I'm not sure we will ever get there," he told the the hundreds of people that were spread between the meeting room and two overflow conference rooms in the capitol complex. "I too wish for finality but there are over 100 laws that cover the management of these lands and the list goes on and on."
Abbey appeared in connection with an invitation issued by the governor in late December when he talked with Herbert on the phone both the day of Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar's announcement on Dec. 23 that he was ordering the Bureau of Land Management to start looking at lands under their care and to start to reinventory them as to whether they fit the definition of wild or not, and the day after the announcement.
Herbert stated at the beginning of the meeting on Friday that he wasn't happy that he had had little warning about the decision and had not that he had not been conferred with concerning it. He felt the move might be conterproductive to the atmosphere that has become more concillitory in the last couple of years between all the parties with interests in public lands.
"We've had some real successes," said Herbert to the group. "The issues in Nine Mile Canyon concerning the gas development by Bill Barrett Corporation is a good example. We believe we can find solutions, but something like this could cause problems and hurt the goodwill we have built. That's why I asked Mr. Abbey here today."
The meeting had a big buildup over the days before it as emails went out to many parties on both sides of the wild lands issue. People were asked come early because it would be crowded. Many land use advocates wore red badges into the meeting that were in the shape of a stop sign that said "Stop the land grab" while those pleased with the decision to relook at the wild designation on lands wore yellow round badges that said "Thanks" commending Abbey, Salazar and the interior department as a whole for making the decision.
Many people from Carbon County and other parts of eastern Utah attended the meeting. Those attending included people from land use groups, recreational users, government officials and individuals involved in energy development.
For more on this story see the Tuesday edition of the Sun Advocate.