On Friday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar [introduced](http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/677-e2-wire/165811-salazar-queries-cong...) the Obama administration's much-reduced plan for conservation of public land. Late last year, the administration [was arguing](http://prospect.org/csnc/blogs/tapped_archive?month=03&year=2011&base_na...) the the government should consider conservation—leaving land wild, even for a little while—as a possible use of public land. Now the only lands that will be left wild will be the lands that Interior and Congress consider "crown jewels."
Salazar wrote to Congress asking members to put forward conservation possibilities that fit that description. But what does it mean? It implies that the pieces of land in question stand out in some way—are the most beautiful, or the most fit for recreation. But Salazar also implies in his letter that they are whichever pieces of land would be least controversial to protect, that is, places for which there is already "strong support in the local community and among elected officials for permanent protection."
Salazar has given up the fight on this issue, and who can blame him? Five months ago, he could talk about protecting wilderness. Now any policy that even hints at hindering oil or gas drilling, as the wild lands policy did, gets shouted down as un-American. Yesterday, [The Denver Post ran a story](http://www.denverpost.com/politics/ci_18257046) suggesting that Salazar was tired of taking a beating at Interior. The paper asked him if he'd continue on for a second Obama term, and he replied that he wasn't "going to look that far into the future." The paper spun that as "he's not sure of a second term," which wasn't exactly what he said. But a stronger statement would have shown a little more enthusiasm for keeping his current job.