Senate Committee Approves First Wilderness Bills of the Year

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Pew urges passage to safeguard more than 125,000 acres of public land

The Pew Campaign for America's Wilderness issued the following statement praising the approval today of five bills that would protect more than 125,000 acres of wilderness in five states by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The measures now go to the full U.S. Senate for a vote.

“This legislation will safeguard snow capped peaks in Washington, key habitat for brook trout in Tennessee, one of Oregon's most secluded landscapes, a popular recreation area on the shores of Lake Michigan, and one of the world's great migration flyways in New Mexico,” said director Mike Matz. “These are special places treasured by Americans for hiking, fishing, camping, and watching wildlife.”

“Since we lose 6,000 acres of open space to development every day, it is heartening that efforts continue to preserve land intact as a legacy for future generations. These bills, sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans, were crafted with input and support from local communities. We urge the full Senate to take up and pass these measures without delay.”

The bills voted on today were:

  • S.140, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Conservation and Recreation Act, introduced by Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow (both D-Mich.), to protect more than 32,500 acres in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on Lake Michigan;
  • S.322, Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act, introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), to add 22,100 acres to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and designate parts of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie and Pratt Rivers as Wild and Scenic;
  • S.667, Rio Grande del Norte National Conservation Area Establishment Act, introduced by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), to protect as a conservation area some 235,000 acres northwest of Taos, including more than 21,000 acres of designated wilderness (map);
  • S.766, Devil's Staircase Wilderness Act of 2011, introduced by Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley (both D-Ore.), to safeguard nearly 30,000 acres on Wassen Creek in Oregon's Coast Range (map); and
  • S.1090, Tennessee Wilderness Act, introduced by Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker (both R-Tenn.), to protect nearly 20,000 acres of wilderness in the Cherokee National Forest.
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