Press Release

President Signs Law Creating Largest Wilderness Legacy in 15 Years


President Obama today signed into law the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, adding 2.1 million acres of publicly owned land in California, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia to the National Wilderness Preservation System. Some of the wild treasures now forever protected area California's Eastern Sierra Nevada, Mount Hood in Oregon, Zion National Park in Utah, Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan, and parts of Virginia's Jefferson National Forest and the Monongahela in West Virginia. Wilderness designation is the strongest protection possible for America's common ground.  The new law also protects more than 1000 miles of rivers as "wild and scenic," and establishes a 26-million-acre National Landscape Conservation System.

"It is fitting that the first environmental bill signed by President Obama—which will forever protect millions of acres of special wild places—came in the year the nation celebrates the 45th anniversary of the Wilderness Act," said the Campaign for America's Wilderness executive director Mike Matz, who attended the signing ceremony.  "The depth of support for this law by people from all walks of life, as well as the size, scope and diversity of the lands protected are a clear indication Americans recognize that our wild lands must and do serve many purposes, not the least of which is as a place to hunt, fish, hike, camp, watch birds and just find solitude."

"Protecting these two million acres nationwide is a remarkable achievement. A great many people from coast to coast and communities in between worked very hard and for many years to realize this goal. That this bill was signed into law today shows that our democracy is working just as it should, empowering everyday people to make a lasting difference in their communities and across the country."