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Protecting Spectacular Public Lands: Part of the Bureau of Land Management's Multiple Use Mandate

L. Poe Leggette, Jennifer Cadena, Jessica R. Rogers, Energy Development: Access, Siting, Permitting, and Delivery on Public Lands

By Presidential Proclamation, this month we celebrate “National Wilderness Month, 2009.”1 September 3, 2009, marked the forty-fifth anniversary of the passage of the Wilderness Act. That Act established the National Wilderness Preservation System, which has grown from an initial nine million acres to over 109 million acres today, an aggregate area larger than the State of California, with 756 Congressionally-designated wilderness areas.2

But much more land in the United States is subject to substantial restraints on development under state and federal law.3 This paper considers those restraints, from the perspective of energy development, under several categories of lands managed by the federal government. It also reviews a sampling of the case law addressing conflicts between energy development and preservation policy.


I. Wilderness Designation

A. The Wilderness Act

Aiming to “secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness,” Congress enacted the Wilderness Act of 1964 (“Wilderness Act”).4 The Wilderness Act created a National Wilderness Preservation System composed of federally owned areas designated by Congress as “wilderness areas.”5 Upon enactment, areas within the national forests previously classified6 as “wilderness,” “wild,” or “canoe” were designat