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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wilderness Bill Passes Congress Protects 2 Million Acres

The House approved the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (H.R. 146) on a vote of 285 to 140 on March 25, 2009 that includes the largest expansion of the wilderness system in 15 years -- 2 million acres in nine states -- and launched one of the most ambitious river restoration efforts in the West. The bill passed in the Senate on March 19, on a vote of 77-20. President Obama will sign the bill on Monday, March 30. Provisions by state include:

California:
* Preserve nearly 450,000 acres of wilderness and 73 miles of wild and scenic rivers near Santa Clarita and along the California Nevada border, including the White Mountains.
* Protect some 190,000 acres in Riverside County as wilderness, including parts of Joshua Tree National Park.
* Protect about 70,000 acres of wilderness, including the new John Krebs Wilderness, named for the former congressman and conservationist who fought to protect these lands in the Mineral King Valley.
Colorado:
* Protect nearly 250,000 acres of Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park.
* Protect 66,000 acres of red rock sandstone canyons, cliffs, streams and waterfalls in western Colorado.
Idaho:
* Protect as wilderness 517,000 acres in Idaho's Owyhee Canyonlands.
Michigan:
* Protect 11,739 acres of wilderness at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
New Mexico:
* Protect more than 15,000 acres in San Miguel County as wilderness.
Oregon:
* Protect 13,700 acres of old-growth forest in Oregon's Siskiyou National Forest.
* Protect more than 128,000 acres of national forest on Mount Hood.
* Protect nearly 31,000 acres of wilderness in the Badlands just east of Bend.
Utah:
* Protect more than 250,000 acres of wilderness in and near Zion National Park.
Virginia:
* Protect 43,000 acres of the Jefferson National Forest as wilderness, and 12,000 as a national scenic area.
West Virginia:
* Protect 37,000 acres in the Monongahela National Forest.

Source: Associated Press, L.A. Times, (Omnibus Wilderness Bill Key Provisions, The Wilderness Society)

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