Press Release

Wilderness Bills in the 113th Congress

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The Pew Campaign for America's Wilderness is working on the following bills pending in the 113th Congress.

Jump to a state:
Arizona | CaliforniaColorado | Idaho | Maine | Michigan | Montana | Nevada | New Mexico
Oregon | Tennessee | Utah | Washington

Arizona


Arizona Sonoran Desert Heritage Act of 2013 (H.R. 1799)

Arizona Sonoran Desert Heritage Act of 2013On April 26, 2013, Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) introduced legislation to protect approximately 950,000 acres of Sonoran Desert lands west of Phoenix.

The bill will establish the 276,000-acre Belmont-Harquahala National Conservation Area (NCA) and the 406,000 acre Gila Bend NCA. It will also designate 291,000 acres of wilderness, including additions to two existing areas and the designation of four new ones. In addition, the bill will designate two special management areas.

The area is critical habitat for bighorn sheep, bobcat, mountain lions, desert tortoise, and more than 300 species of native birds.

Protections in this legislation will safeguard the viability of Luke Air force Base and Goldwater Air Force Range and provide an economic boost to surrounding communities.

Rep. Ed Pastor (D, AZ) is a co-sponsor. 

California


Central Coast Heritage Protection Act (H.R. 4685)

Central Coast Heritage Protection Act (H.R. 4685)On May 20, 2014, Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) introduced legislation to protect 245,665 acres of new and expanded wilderness in the Los Padres National Forest and the Carrizo Plain National Monument. It would also protect wild and scenic rivers and designate a new national recreational trail.

The proposed areas provide habitat for more than 450 species of wildlife and 1,200 plant species. More than 90 of these species are at risk of extinction, including the San Joaquin kit fox, steelhead trout, arroyo toad, and the California jewelflower. The region is also home to the endangered California condor, the largest and most endangered North American bird species. Visitors from around the world come to these coastal mountains and grasslands to hike, backpack, camp, bird-watch, ride horses, hunt, fish, kayak, and mountain bike.

Reps. Julia Brownley (D-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA) are co-sponsors.

 

Colorado


Browns Canyon National Monument and Wilderness Act of 2013 (S. 1794)

Browns Canyon National Monument and Wilderness Act of 2013On December 10, 2013, Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) introduced legislation to protect roughly 22,000 acres of public land in Chaffee County, Colorado.

The legislation will protect land along the iconic Arkansas River as a national monument, including 10,500 acres of wilderness. Browns Canyon is a mid-elevation range of public land with pinon juniper, Douglas fir, Ponderosa pine and aspen trees. It provides wildlife habitat for black bear, bighorn sheep, elk, mountain lions, mule deer, eagles, falcons, and more. The area is a recreation haven known for its whitewater rafting, kayaking, fishing, hunting, and mountain biking.

 

Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act (H.R. 1839/S. 841)

Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act of 2012On April 25, 2013, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) introduced legislation to protect the 108,000-acre Hermosa Creek Watershed in the San Juan National Forest of southwest Colorado.

The bill will designate nearly 38,000 acres of wilderness within the watershed.

The area is prized for its stunning vistas, pristine water quality, and diverse plant and animal species.

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) is a co-sponsor.

Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CO) introduced companion legislation on May 6, 2013.

On November 20, 2013, the Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining held a hearing.

On March 6, 2014, the House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation held a hearing.

 

San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act of 2013 (S. 341)

San Juan MountainsOn February 14, 2013, Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) introduced legislation to protect nearly 55,000 acres of public land in southwest Colorado, including 32,000 acres as wilderness. This addition to the 480,000-acre San Juan National Forest Wilderness will provide protection to critical landscape linkages.

The San Juan Mountain range is one of the most geologically diverse mountain ranges in the world and is home to the threatened Canada lynx and the Gunnison sage grouse, and Colorado River cutthroat trout, whose status is under review. The wilderness legislation is supported by local communities, elected officials, ranchers and recreation groups.

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) is a co-sponsor.

The Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests, and Mining held a hearing on April 25, 2013.

On June 18, 2013, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved this legislation.

Idaho


Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act (H.R. 145)

CAW-Idaho-Economic-Development-300x175.jpgOn January 3, 2013, Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) introduced legislation to permanently protect over 330,000 acres of wilderness in central Idaho.

The bill will create three wilderness areas in the Sawtooth and Challis National Forests and the Challis District of the Bureau of Land Management within the Boulder-White Clouds Mountain range.

Boulder-White Clouds is the largest unprotected wild roadless area in the national forests of the lower 48 states. Its broad range of elevations and habitats lends to the area's enormous biological and geographical diversity. Since the land is uninterrupted by roads, Boulder-White Clouds is a popular hunting and fishing destination, with spawning salmon and big game such as elk, moose, mountain goat, bighorn sheep, black bear, and cougar. 

Maine


Maine Coastal Islands Wilderness Act (H.R. 1808)

Maine Coastal Islands Wilderness Act (H.R. 1808)On April 26, 2013, 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 mi- gratory seabirds and waterfowl and elevating the profile of the area to boost tour- ism for the area's economy.

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

On July 23, 2013, the House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation held a hearing.

 

Michigan


Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Conservation and Recreation Act (H.R. 163/ S. 23)

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Conservation and Recreation Act On January 4, 2013, Rep. Dan Benishek (R-MI) introduced legislation to protect over 32,500 acres of wilderness in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. This area is on the mainland shore of Lake Michigan and is popular with hunters, anglers, hikers, and boaters. Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) introduced companion legislation on January 22, 2013.

Reps. Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI), Dave Camp (R-MI), John Dingell (D-MI), Bill Huizenga (RMI), Dan Kildee (D-MI), Sander Levin (D-MI), Candice Miller (R-MI), Gary Peters (D-MI), Mike Rogers (R-MI), Fred Upton (R-MI) and Tim Walberg (R-MI) are co-sponsors.

On March 14, 2013, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved this legislation. The Senate passed S. 23 by unanimous consent on June 19, 2013.

On July 23, 2013, the House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation held a hearing.

On January 28, 2014, the House Natural Resources Committee approved the legislation.

On March 4, 2014, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the legislation.

On March 13, 2014, the president signed the legislation into law.

Montana


Forest Jobs and Recreation Act of 2013 (S. 37)

CAW_MTFJRAMONTURE_300x175_AC_HO_12153.jpgOn January 22, 2013, Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act. This bill will protect nearly 700,000 acres of wilderness across the Beaverhead-Deerlodge, Lolo, and Kootenai National Forests, including the East and West Pioneers, the Sapphires, Lost Cabin, and Lima Peaks.  It will also protect additions to the Lee Metcalf, Anaconda-Pintlar, and North Fork Blackfoot Monture Creek Wilderness Areas.

The bill will also improve forest health and fish and wildlife habitat as well as protect the lands for hunting, fishing, hiking, and horseback riding. Along with wilderness protection, the measure will designate areas for backcountry recreation and areas for forest stewardship.

Sen. Max Baucus (D, MT) is a co-sponsor.

On July 30, 2013, the Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining held a hearing.

On December 19, 2013, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved this legislation.

 

Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act (S. 364)

Rocky Mountain Front HeritageOn February 14, 2013, former Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced legislation to protect 275,000 acres of rugged public land in western Montana. The bill will add 50,500 acres to the Bob Marshall Wilderness and 16,700 acres to the Scapegoat Wilderness.

The legislation will also designate 208,000 acres as conservation management areas and prioritizes noxious- weed eradication and prevention on the protected lands.

Sen. John Walsh (D-MT) is a co-sponsor.

On July 30, 2013, the Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining held a hearing.

On November 21, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved this legislation. 

Nevada


Douglas County Conservation Act of 2013 (S. 1263)

Douglas County Conservation Act of 2013 (S. 1263) On June 27, Sens. Dean Heller (R-NV) and Harry Reid (D-NV) introduced legislation to protect over 12,000 acres of public land in Douglas County, Nevada.

The legislation will designate the Burbank Canyons Wilderness, currently managed as a wilderness study area by the Bureau of Land
Management. The area includes three deep canyons and is home to perennial streams and beautiful aspen groves. Hiking, camping, horseback riding, and hunting are popular recreational pursuits in Burbank Canyons. Visitors to the area will find an abundance of sagebrush, pinyon pine, and juniper.

The bill also conveys important cultural sites to the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California.

  

Lyon County Economic Development and Conservation Act of 2013 (H.R. 696/S. 159)

Lyon County Economic Development and Conservation Act of 2013

On January 28, 2013, Sens. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Dean Heller (R-NV) introduced legislation to designate 48,000 acres of wilderness in Lyon County, protecting historic, cultural, and natural resources. It will also convey 12,500 acres of land to the city of Yerington for economic development surrounding the Nevada Copper mine.

The Wovoka Wilderness will be named in honor of the Native American spiritual leader and father of the Ghostdance, who lived near the area.

Reps. Steven Horsford (D-NV), Mark Amodei (R-NV) and Joseph Heck (R-NV) introduced companion legislation on February 14, 2013.

Rep. Dina Titus (D, NV) is a co-sponsor.

The House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation held a hearing on April 18, 2013.

The Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests, and Mining held a hearing on April 25, 2013.

On June 18, 2013, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved this legislation.

On January 28, 2014, the House Natural Resources Committee approved this legislation. However, the bill contains language affecting wilderness areas that conservationists oppose. Additionally, it was combined with the text of H.R. 433, and will go to the House floor with a new bill number.

Pine Forest Range Recreation Enhancement Act of 2013 (H.R. 433/S. 342)

Pine Forest Range Recreation Enhancement Act of 2011 On January 29, 2013, Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV) introduced legislation to designate the 26,000 acre Pine Forest Range Wilderness in northwest Nevada.

The Pine Forest Range is a popular destination for sportsmen and recreationists and is prime habitat for mule deer, sage grouse, and mountain lion.

Sens. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Dean Heller (R-NV) introduced companion legislation on February 14, 2013.

Reps. Joseph Heck (R, NV), Dina Titus (D, NV), and Steven Horsford (D, NV) are co-sponsors.

On April 25, the Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining held a hearing.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved this legislation on May 16, 2013.

The House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation held a hearing on July 23, 2013.

On January 28, 2014, the House Natural Resources Committee approved this legislation. However, the bill contains language affecting wilderness areas that conservationists oppose. Additionally, it was combined with the text of H.R.
696, and will go to the House floor with a new bill number.

Virgin Valley Tourism and Lake Mead Preservation Act (H.R. 2276) / Gold Butte National Conservation Area Act (S. 1054)

Virgin Valley Tourism and Lake Mead Preservation Act (H.R. 2276) / Gold Butte National Conservation Area Act (S. 1054) On May 23, 2013, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) introduced legislation to protect over 440,000 acres of land in Gold Butte just outside of Mesquite, NV.

The bill will designate a nearly 350,000-acre national conservation area (NCA), containing 129,500 acres of wilderness. An additional 92,000 acres of wilderness will also be designated within the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

These protections will preserve ancient petroglyphs, cultural resources and wildlife habitat, while also keeping over 500 miles of roads open for ORV use. They will also raise the profile of the area, driving tourism and helping to support the local economy.

On June 6, Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV) introduced the Virgin Valley Tourism and Lake Mead Preservation Act (H.R. 2276), which includes identical NCA and wilderness protection.

Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) is a co-sponsor.

New Mexico


Cerros del Norte Conservation Act (H.R. 560/S. 241)

Rio Grande del NorteOn May 16, after the creation of the Río Grande del Norte National Monument, Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) successfully amended the Rio Grande del Norte National Conservation Area Establishment Act, which he and Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) introduced February 7, making it a wilderness-only bill. The renamed bill will designate two new wilderness areas – Ute Mountain (Cerro del Yuta) and San Antonio Mountain (Rio San Antonio) – within the Río Grande del Norte National Monument.

The original bill was amended after President Barack Obama protected the land that had been the basis for the legislation as a national monument. The two proposed wilderness areas will comprise 21,420 acres of the 242,500-acre national monument northwest of Taos, New Mexico.

Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) sponsored the original Rio Grande del Norte National Conservation Area Establishment Act (H.R. 560) in the House, which he introduced February 6.

Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D, NM) is a co-sponsor.

On April 25, the Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining held a hearing.

On May 16, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved this legislation.

Columbine-Hondo Wilderness Act (H.R. 1683/S. 776)

Columbine-Hondo Wilderness ActOn April 22, 2013, Sens. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) introduced legislation to protect 45,000 acres of wilderness north of Taos in the Carson National Forest.

The area encompasses the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, including Gold Hill, its highest peak and is home to elk, mountain lion, black bear, pine marten, and Rio Grande cutthroat trout. It also contains the headwaters for two rivers that supply water to the Acequias used by the local community.

Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D, NM) is a co-sponsor.

On November 20, 2013, the Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining held a hearing.

Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Conservation Act (S. 1805)

Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Conservation ActOn December 12, 2013, Sens. Tom Udall (D-NM) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) introduced legislation to protect roughly 500,000 acres of public land as a national monument with wilderness in Doña Ana County, New Mexico.

The bill would protect the Organ and Sierra de Las Uvas Mountains, the Potrillo volcanic field, and Chihuahuan Desert Grasslands. It would also preserve key American, Native American and Hispanic heritage sites, such as landmarks along the Camino Real, 22 miles of the Butterfield Stagecoach Trail, Billy the Kid's Outlaw Rock, and thousands of

Native American archeological sites.

The local community has been working for nearly a decade to protect the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks.

 

Oregon


Devil's Staircase Wilderness Act (S. 352 / H.R. 2491)

Devil's Staircase Wilderness Act

Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced the Devil's Staircase Wilderness Act on February 14, 2013, a measure that will permanently protect nearly 30,000 acres of wilderness on Wassen Creek in Oregon's Coast Range.

Considered one of the most secluded locations in Oregon, Devil's Staircase is home to some of the finest examples of classic old growth forest left in the Coast Range. Many native species are found here, including threatened spotted owls, elk, black bear, mountain lions, river otter, and mink. The bill will also designate more than 14 miles of Wassen and Franklin Creeks as wild and scenic.

On March 14, 2013, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved this legislation. The Senate passed S. 352 by unanimous consent on June 19, 2013.

On June 25, Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), and Kurt Schrader (D-OR)
introduced companion legislation in the House.

 

Oregon and California Land Grant Act of 2013 (S. 1784)

Oregon and California Land Grant Act of 2013

Oregon and California Land Grant Act of 2013 (S. 1784) On December 9, 2013, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced legislation to deal with the decades-
old issue of management of the 2 million acres of “O&C” lands in western Oregon.  Included in this legislation is 87,000 acres of wilderness protection for the Wild Rogue and Devil's Staircase areas, as well as roughly 165 miles of wild and scenic rivers. While the bill does allow for increased timber harvest, it will safeguard some of the nation's oldest forests from logging and commercial development.  People visit Oregon and the “O&C” lands in the proposal to hike, fish, whitewater raft, kayak, and camp.

On February 6, 2014, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing.

The Oregon Treasures Act (S. 353)

The Oregon Treasures Act (S. 353) On February 14, 2013, Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Jeff Merkley (D-NM) introduced legislation to protect five areas in Oregon.

The Oregon Treasures Act will designate 60,000 acres of wilderness on the Rogue River in southwest Oregon and over 17,000 acres of wilderness in the Cathedral Rock and Horse
Heaven areas along the lower John Day River. It will also protect 143 miles of the Rogue River and its tributaries as wild and scenic as well as 23.1 miles of the Molalla River as recreational under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. In addition the legislation will protect 3 miles of the Chetco River from invasive mining practices. This bill combines four previously introduced bills.

The Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests and Mining held a hearing on April 25, 2013.

On June 18, 2013, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved this legislation.

Rogue Wilderness Expansion Act (H.R. 2488)

Rogue Wilderness Expansion ActOn June 25, 2013, Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), and Kurt Schrader (D-OR) introduced legislation to protect nearly 60,000 acres of wilderness on the Rogue River in southwest Oregon.

The bill will also designate 93 miles of the Rogue River and its tributaries as wild and scenic.

 

Tennessee


The Tennessee Wilderness Act of 2013 (S. 1294)

CAW-waterfall-300x175-np.jpgOn July 15, 2013, Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Bob Corker (R-TN) introduced legislation to protect nearly 20,000 acres of wilderness in the Cherokee National Forest.

The legislation will expand five existing wilderness areas, including Sampson Mountain and Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock, and create one new one, the Upper Bald River.

The measure will preserve important watersheds and habitat for native brook trout, black bear, bobcat, grey fox, and white-tailed Deer and will protect a popular migratory, breeding and wintering habitat for numerous bird species.

 

Utah


Wasatch Wilderness and Watershed Protection Act (H.R. 2808)

 Wasatch Wilderness and Watershed Protection Act (H.R. 2808) On July 24, 2013, Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) introduced legislation to protect nearly 25,000 acres of national forest land in the central Wasatch Mountains just outside of Salt Lake City.

The bill will protect the watershed that provides water for over 500,000 residents in the Salt Lake City region, designating 13,406 acres of wilderness and 11,013 acres of special management areas.

  

Washington


Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act (H.R. 361/S. 112)

CAW_congressional_bills_np.jpgOn January 23, 2013, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. David Reichert (R-WA) introduced legislation that will expand the existing 394,000-acre Alpine Lakes Wilderness by 22,100 acres and designate parts of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie and Pratt Rivers as wild and scenic. The areas protected by this bill lie in the Pratt River Valley and the Middle and South Fork Snoqualmie River Valleys, an area that in- cludes glacier-cut U-shaped valleys, snow-capped peaks, old-growth forests, whitewater rivers, and strong native trout runs.

This area is the closest and most accessible to residents of the greater Seattle metropolitan area. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Reps. Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Adam Smith (D, WA,) and Jim McDermott (D, WA) are co-sponsors.

On March 14, 2013, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved this legislation. The Senate passed S. 112 by unanimous consent on June 19, 2013.

The House Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation held a hearing on July 23, 2013. 

The Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 2014 (S. 1949/H.R. 3917)

Wild Olympics & Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 2014On January 16, 2014, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) introduced legislation to permanently protect more than 126,000 acres of ancient and mature forests on Olympic National Forest as wilderness and 19 Olympic Peninsula rivers and their major tributaries as wild and scenic. It will permanently protect the Olympic Peninsula's ancient forests, free-flowing rivers, and stunning scenery for future generations. Additionally, it will safeguard critical salmon habitat and sources of clean drinking water for local communities. Legislation was first introduced last Congress by former Congressman Norm Dicks and Senator Patty Murray.