FROM an article by the GPAA in the Pick and Shovel Gazzette
BY BRAD JONES
..."In Western Colorado, prospectors and miners are facing an old foe — U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.An environmental activist, Salazar served as a U.S. Senator from Colorado from 2005 to 2009, when he resigned his senate seat to become Secretary of the Interior under President Barack Obama.“Ken Salazar is trying to shut down the whole west end of the state of Colorado and make some kind of Wild and Scenic areas out of it. We’ve been fighting with the legislature on that — talking with congressmen and senators. I have been in touch with several of them and they are trying to stop it, but they can only do so much,” Peterson said.“What they are doing is illegal!” They are trying to designate areas as Wild and Scenic and when you look up the description of Wild and Scenic, they don’t even fit the scope or picture of what is Wild and Scenic. They are trying to designate whichever way they can to get it to go through,” he said.“They’ve already closed a bunch of areas. You can’t take any ATVs or any kind of equipment across there. They call it the Wilderness Act.”Peterson blames the signing of the Colorado Wildernesss Act of 1993 under former President Bill Clinton for many of the problems Colorado outdoors groups, including prospectors, now face. Back then, the Wilderness Act designated 19 areas within the National Forests and public lands of Colorado, encompassing 612,000 acres, as components of the National Wilderness Preservation System. It also restricted activity in five areas, totaling some 155,000 acres under other land management plans.“It wasn’t until the Clinton administration that they really started to push this Wilderness thing,” Peterson said.“What Clinton did in the Wilderness Act — you can’t even walk across the land. You can’t leave any kind of trace like footprints or anything else. If you could fly across it, you’d be fine, but you are not supposed to be touching the ground in a Wilderness Area.”Since then, hundreds of thousands more acres of public lands have been designated as Wilderness Areas in Colorado and have been closed to prospecting, mining and other outdoors activities.Salazar played an pivotal role in locking up even more of these public lands by introducing the legislation in May 2008 that led to the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area and Dominguez Canyon Wilderness Act. The legislation designated approximately 200,000 acres as Dominguez-Escalante Canyons National Conservation Area, which includes the more than 66,000-acre Dominguez Canyon Wilderness Area.Salazar was already at the helm of the Department of the Interior when an internal memo earmarking 13.5 million acres of public lands for possible designation as “National Monuments” under the Antiquities Act, was leaked to the news media last year."