LOS ANGELES (AP) — The federal Bureau of Land Management has scrapped Obama-era plans to exclude 1.3 million acres of environmentally sensitive Southern California lands from new mining activity.
The BLM announced Tuesday that after a review it concluded that mining operations do not pose a significant threat to the protection of cultural, biological and scientific resources.
The agency also said an environmental analysis associated with the proposed withdrawal has been terminated.
Environmental groups slammed the decision. Phil Hanceford of the Wilderness Society called it an assault on public lands.
The San Bernardino Sun says the affected lands are in San Bernardino, Riverside and Imperial counties. The newspaper says it includes the 31,000-thousand-acre Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, a desert oasis that's one of California's 10 largest cottonwood and willow habitats.