Wilderness Legislation in 112th Congress

Jump to a section:
Awaiting Markup | Introduced in the House | Introduced in the Senate

Awaiting Markup

The Cathedral Rock and Horse Heaven Wilderness Act (S. 607)

Cathedral Rock

© Greg Burke

On March 17, 2011, Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced legislation to designate, as wilderness, over 16,000 acres in the Cathedral Rock and Horse Heaven areas near the lower John Day River.

The areas encompass dramatic basalt cliffs and rolling hills of juniper, sagebrush and bluebranch wheatgrass. The landscape also offers key habitat for pygmy rabbit and Ferruginous hawk and is a critical corridor connecting the habitats of a large number of key wildlife species.

A hearing was held in the Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests on May 18, 2011.

 

 

 

The Pinnacles National Park Act (S. 161)

Pinnacles National Park

Courtesy National Park Service

On January 25, 2011, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced the Pinnacles National Park Act. This bill will designate the area around Pinnacles National Monument in California as a National Park. The bill will also expand the existing Pinnacles Wilderness by 2,715 acres and change the name to the Hain Wilderness, after Schuyler Hain, an early homesteader whose efforts to protect the area led to the establishment by Theodore Roosevelt of Pinnacles National Monument in 1908.

Protection for this area will preserve the chaparral, grasslands, blue oak woodlands, many unique flora and fauna and the ancestral and cultural history of native Americans.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is a co-sponsor.

A hearing was held in the Senate Subcommittee on National Parks on May 11, 2011.

Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act (H.R. 608/S. 322)

Alpine Lakes

On February 10, 2011, 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 additional roadless lands protected by this bill lie in the Pratt River Valley and the Middle and South Fork Snoqualimie River Valleys, an area that includes glacier-cut U-shaped valleys, snow-capped peaks, old-growth forests, whitewater rivers and strong native trout runs.

This wilderness area is the closest and most accessible to residents of the greater Seattle metropolitan area and would preserve existing recreational opportunities for hiking, camping, rafting, kayaking, horseback riding, mountain biking and wildlife viewing.

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Reps. Norman Dicks (D-WA), Jay Inslee (D-WA), Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Adam Smith (D-WA) are co-sponsors.

A hearing was held in the Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forest on May 18, 2011.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Conservation and Recreation Act (S. 140)

Sleeping Bear Dunes Lakeshore

Courtesy National Park Service

On January 25, 2011, Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Debbie Ann Stabenow (D-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.

On March 9, 2011, Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI) introduced companion legislation in the House.

Reps. Dave Camp (R-MI), Sander Levin (D-MI), Mike Rogers (R-MI), Fred Upton (R-MI) and Tim Walberg (R-MI) are co-sponsors.

A hearing was held in the Senate Subcommittee on National Parks on May 11, 2011.

 

 

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

Ute Mountain

Courtesy New Mexico Wilderness Alliance

On March 29, 2011, Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) introduced 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. Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) is a co-sponsor.

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 hearing was held in the Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests on May 18, 2011.

Devil's Staircase Wilderness Act (H.R. 1413/S. 766)

Devil's Staircase

© Dave Tvedt

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced the Devil's Staircase Wilderness Act on April 7, 2011, 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.

Reps. David Wu (D-OR), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR) are co-sponsors.

A hearing was held in the Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests on May 18, 2011.

 

Introduced in the House

Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia Wilderness Act (H.R. 41)

On January 5, 2011, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) introduced legislation to protect over 21,000 acres of wilderness in north San Diego County. The proposed wilderness sits adjacent to the Beauty Mountain and Agua Tibia wilderness areas located in Riverside County.

The areas are characterized by deep canyons and fascinating rock formations and offer recreation opportunities such as hiking, backpacking and hunting.

 

 

Angeles and San Bernardino National Forests Protection Act (H.R. 113)

© Michael Gordon

On January 5, 2011, Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) introduced legislation to protect as wilderness approximately 18,000 acres of the Angeles and San Bernardino National Forests near Los Angeles. Encompassing the San Gabriel Mountains, these National Forests are two of the most widely visited forests in the Nation.

The wilderness additions proposed by the Congressman to the existing Sheep Mountain and Cucamonga Wilderness Areas will protect these popular public lands located in the “backyards” of millions of Californians to ensure they remain wild and available for hiking, camping, horseback riding and other outdoor activities.

Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) is a co-sponsor.

Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act (H.R. 163)

CIEDRA Proposed Wilderness

© Lauren McLean

On January 5, 2011 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.

 

Manzano Wilderness Addition (H.R. 490)

Manzano Wilderness Addition

On January 26, 2011, Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) introduced legislation to expand the Cibola National Forest.

The bill will expand the existing Manzano Mountain Wilderness in the south end of the forest by approximately 900 acres. It will protect the area's critical role as a wildlife corridor for animals that migrate from north to south across the state.

 

 

 

Eagle and Summit County Wilderness Act (H.R. 1701)

Waterfall in proposal area

On May 3, 2011, Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) introduced legislation to protect nearly 166,000 acres of pristine wild lands, including 81,790 acres of wilderness, on the White River National Forest and surrounding Bureau of Land Management areas in Colorado's Summit and Eagle Counties.

The bill will designate as wilderness, the Bull Gulch, Spraddle Creek and Hoosier Ridge areas, increasing protection for wildlife connectivity in the region.

The legislation is supported groups representing rock and mountain climbers, ranchers, outfitters, fly fishing shops, rafting and guiding companies, and a variety of other businesses and nonprofit organizations.

 

 

Introduced in the Senate

The California Desert Protection Act of 2011 (S. 138)

California Desert Wilderness

© John Dittli

On January 25, 2011, Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation to protect almost 1.6 million acres of desert landscape.

This bill will designate more than 346,000 acres of wilderness, create the Desert Trails and Sand to Snow National Monuments, expand existing national parks, and protect vital waterways such as the Amargosa River and Deep Creek.

The legislation will also protect the historical value of these lands including sacred Native American trails and sites and the legendary Route 66.

Forest Jobs and Recreation Act (S. 268)

Gorge Lake in East Pioneers

Gorge Lake in East Pioneers; © Russell O'Leary

On February 3, 2011, 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, and 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.

A hearing was held in the Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forest on May 25, 2011.

The Organ Mountains-Dona Ana County Conservation and Protection Act (S. 1024)

Organ Mountains

Organ Mountains; © Ken Stinnett

On May 19, 2011, Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Tom Udall (D-NM) introduced The Organ Mountains-Dona Ana County Conservation and Protection Act. This bill will designate 241,000 acres of wilderness and create a 100,000-acre National Conservation Area around the Organ and Robledo Mountains and parts of Broad Canyon.

This area in Southern New Mexico, near Las Cruces, is known for hiking, hunting, camping, climbing and horseback riding. The iconic Organ Mountains offer some of the most breathtakingly scenic views in the state.

 

 

 

The Tennessee Wilderness Act (S. 1090)

Waterfall

On May 26, 2011, Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Bob Corker (R-TN) introduced legislation to protect nearly 20,000 acres of wilderness on 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.