I strongly support, applaud, and commend Interior Secretary Salazar for his priority of better protecting "treasured landscapes." As I understand it, an internal process is underway to identify and evaluate federally managed areas that may qualify as such landscapes. In some cases, these are BLM administered lands that may be eligible for designation as National Monuments through Presidential Proclamations under the Antiquities Act. In turn, any new BLM National Monuments would become part of BLM's National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) that Congress codified last year. As this process moves forward, I recommend that a clear, consistent, and user-friendly communication method be developed soon and widely publicized. It would allow the public to provide constructive input on which federally administered areas they believe do or do not warrant protection, and why. Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT)reportedly received a leaked "not for release" draft DOI report that considered 14 such areas for possible future protection. This report was then posted on Fox News, and it has generated substantial controversy (especially among those who do not like or trust the Obama administration anyway). I personally don't see any problem with a draft internal report to consider options and ideas, but apparently to some people its release demonstrated bad faith and perhaps a "secret plot." My point is that even the perception of the government possibly keeping secrets or deliberating in private can raise strong resentment. To help defuse this current controversy, but also just to foster more open government, I recommend that these 14 areas and perhaps others be posted on the DOI web site, and the public be asked to provide constructive input. Most Americans love their federal lands, and want to see them properly managed and protected. It is time to let ALL Americans join this DOI "treasured landscapes" discussion, not just those with paranoid delusions or an ideological axe to grind.
Idea No. 71