Press Release

Pew Hails Important Step to Protect More Than 24,000 Acres

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Two wilderness bills receive congressional hearing

Jim Mathews, policy manager of Pew's Campaign for America's Wilderness, issued the following statement praising the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands for holding a hearing today to safeguard 24,625 acres as wilderness in Maine and New Mexico.

“Pew is gratified that the subcommittee has held two hearings this month on pending wilderness legislation. Both of these bills were crafted with local input and enjoy broad community endorsement. The Rio Grande del Norte measure was developed over many years in a collaborative process that brought together a diverse group of local stakeholders. These individuals value this land for its beauty, wildlife, and traditional uses, such as hunting and fishing, that have been passed down from generation to generation. The Maine coastal islands legislation is also widely supported and will further protect habitat in the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge and boost tourism.” 

 

Background

Rio Grande del Norte National Conservation Area Establishment Act (H.R. 1241/S. 667)

Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM-3) is the sponsor of the Rio Grande del Norte National Conservation Area Establishment Act to protect as a conservation area some 235,000 acres northwest of Taos, including more than 21,000 acres of designated wilderness.

The bill will designate about 13,500 acres of the Ute Mountain area as the Cerro del Yuta Wilderness, and 8,000 acres as the Rio San Antonio wilderness.

The legislation will also give protection to the Rio Grande Gorge, home to one of the great migratory routes in the world, offering nesting places to falcons, eagles and hawks.

Rep. Ben Lujan (D-NM) introduced companion legislation in the House. Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) is a co-sponsor.

A Senate version sponsored by Sen. Jeff Bingaman was approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on November 10, 2011.

Maine Coastal Islands Wilderness Act of 2011 (H.R. 2984)

On September 21, 2011, Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME) introduced legislation to protect 13 islands of the Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge. The bill will designate 3,125 acres of wilderness, protecting pristine habitat for migratory seabirds and waterfowl and elevating the profile of the area to boost tourism for the area's economy.

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) is a co-sponsor.

Rep. Michael Michaud (D-ME-2) Maine Coastal Islands Wilderness Act (H.R. 2984) designates specified lands in Maine within the Cross Island National Wildlife Refuge, to be known as the Cross Island Wilderness, and within the Petit Manan National Wildlife Refuge, to be known as the Maine Coastal Islands Wilderness, as wilderness and as components of the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS).

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