WASHINGTON, D.C. - Is there an area of public land in Mohave County that you would like to see preserved for future generations?
You might want to contact your local Congress member or the U.S. Department of the Interior. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar issued a news release Friday asking members of Congress for suggestions on what areas of public lands should be added to the list of federal public lands protected under the Wilderness Act.
According to the Bureau of Land Management's website, Congress established the National Wilderness Preservation System and designated the first Wilderness Areas after passing the Wilderness Act in 1964.
The act is designed to protect the habitats of wildlife, protect sources of clean water, and provide recreation areas of untouched land that people can enjoy. Wilderness areas have also been used for education and research purposes.
Arizona has 47 wilderness areas and two wilderness study areas containing more than 1.4 million acres. Mohave County has 14 wilderness areas and one study area. A list of the areas can be found on the Arizona BLM website.
In order to be designated a wilderness area, the public land must meet certain characteristics according to the BLM Wild Lands Planning Manual such as the uniqueness of various wildlife, plants, geological, ecological, scientific, scenic or historical characteristics of the land. The department must then determine if it can manage the land in such a way as to protect those characteristics and if the land has resources that would provide a much-needed benefit to society or the local economy, such as mining, grazing and recreational uses.
After studying all the characteristics and potential uses of the land, the department presents several alternatives to the public. If the public approves, the request is sent to Congress for final approval.
Getting a wilderness area approved takes the concerted effort of a group of interested people and the support of their local Congressmen, said Kingman BLM spokesman Mike Brown.
He welcomes residents to write to the Kingman BLM office, the Department of the Interior and their representatives if there is a particular piece of public land they would like to see designated as a wilderness area.