Ben Geman | February 24, 2011 | Reposted from The Hill

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Thursday struck back at critics of his “Wild Lands” conservation initiative, comments that come days after the House approved GOP legislation to block funding for the program.

“I think there are people who have made more of this issue than they should have, including people who are doing it for whatever political agenda they want to serve,” Salazar said during wide-ranging remarks on conservation at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank.

Salazar in December announced the “Wild Lands” program, which involves designating and managing certain public lands to protect their wilderness characteristics. Many western Republicans blasted the policy, calling it an end-run around Congress that could block oil-and-gas drilling and other development.

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