The Campaign for America's Wilderness applauds the introduction this week of the “Protecting America's Wild Places Act of 2008,” (H.R. 5610), which when enacted will add nearly a half million acres of public land across five states to the National Wilderness Preservation System for the use and enjoyment of all Americans. All Americans should appreciate the commitment of Representatives Nick Rahall, Raúl Grijalva, Jim Costa, Peter DeFazio, Tom Udall, and Mary Bono Mack for working to move this bill forward.
This key conservation measure will ensure permanent protection for some of the nation's most beloved wild treasures, including the colorful Tumacacori Highlands in Arizona, Redwood Mountain Grove in California's Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park, Sabinoso – one of New Mexico's finest remaining Great Plains ecosystems, pristine old-growth forests in Oregon's Copper Salmon area, Cheat Mountain in West Virginia's beautiful Monongahela National Forest, and the lush South Fork San Jacinto River Canyon in Riverside County, California.
We lose 6,000 acres of open space every day in this country – 2 million acres a year. It's just good sense to balance that loss by protecting some of our natural treasures as a legacy for future generations – while we can.
Congress currently has pending several viable bills to protect nearly another million and a half acres, which we hope will pass yet this year, including a measure to protect some 320,000 acres of Idaho's Boulder White Cloud Mountains, and another to protect 250,000 acres (94 percent) of Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park as wilderness. These measures are the result of years of work across party lines and with the collaboration and input of varied local, state and national interests.
The broadly-backed Protecting America's Wild Places Act of 2008 will guarantee that Americans from Coachella, California to Charlestown, West Virginia will forever be able to hike, hunt, fish, paddle, climb, canoe and otherwise enjoy more of America's great wild gifts. We hope it moves quickly through Congress and on to the president's desk.