Administration urges new wilderness protections

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HELENA, Mont. (AP) -- The Obama administration is calling for new wilderness and conservation area declarations in nine states.

The Secretary of the Interior released a report Thursday that he hopes will result in new legislation from Congress establishing the new land protections.

Most of the areas proposed for new protections are in the West, where the administration previously came under fire for a scuttled proposal to name new land protections as part of a presidential declaration. The administration says the new proposals have "significant local support."

They include Montana's Sleeping Giant, Nevada's Pine Forest Range, New Mexico's Rio Grande del Norte and 15 other areas.

Bureau of Land Management director Bob Abbey says there is room for more wilderness even as the BLM pushes for more oil, gas and other energy development.