The U.S. House of Representatives passed the first and second wilderness bills of 2008 today—protecting land from one coast of the nation to the other. The Wild Monongahela Act (H.R. 5151) would designate more than 37,000 acres of the wildest land left in the Monongahela National Forest, and the Copper-Salmon Wilderness Act (H.R. 3513) would ensure permanent protection of some 14,000 acres of pristine, old-growth forest surrounding the headwaters of the Elk River in the Siskiyou National Forest on Oregon's southern coast.
“Congress has given the American people a precious gift today,” said Mike Matz, executive director of the Campaign for America's Wilderness. “Passage of these two key conservation bills on Earth Day sends an important message that members of Congress on both sides of the aisle recognize that wilderness is our common ground and should be protected as a legacy for those who will come after us.”
“We appreciate the leadership of House Natural Resources Chairman Nick Rahall in spearheading what will be the first new wilderness for West Virginia in more than 25 years,” added Matz. The House bill is sponsored by the entire state delegation. A somewhat larger West Virginia wilderness bill has been introduced in the Senate by Senators Byrd and Rockefeller. “While we cheer today's action by the House, we hope that a final bill will include a few more of the most special wild places in the Monongahela--places like Roaring Plains East and North and Seneca Creek.”
“Representative Peter DeFazio also deserves our thanks today,” said Matz. “He has worked diligently with local hunters and anglers to move legislation that will help boost the local economy through tourism and recreation, and also ensure that the some of the strongest salmon and steelhead runs left in the country will stay healthy.” Senator Wyden has introduced a companion measure in the Senate.
“We hope the Senate follows suit and quickly moves these measures to the president's desk,” added Matz.”