Three Wilderness Bills Pass House

Contact: Justin Kenney, 215.575.4816, Susan Whitmore, 202.441.1378

Washington, D.C. - 07/24/2006 - The U.S. House of Representatives today passed three key bills to protect a total of more than 660,000 acres of publicly owned land in California, Idaho, and Oregon, as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. “The American people are an important step closer to winning permanent protection for these special wild places,” said Mike Matz, executive director of the Campaign for America’s Wilderness. “Today, Congress stood up for the majority of Americans who want to see more of our beautiful wild lands forever protected. And passage of these measures show that even in times of political polarization, lawmakers can work across party lines to ensure that America’s common ground, our last and best wild places, can be passed down to those who will come after us. We urge the Senate to quickly pass these bills and send them to the president."

“These significant conservation measures are the culmination of years of hard work by the bills’ sponsors, who brought together constituents with a wide range of interests and concerns, provided opportunity for broad public involvement, diligently gave voice to local support of elected officials and business leaders, and forged consensus legislation that won unanimous approval by the U.S. House of Representatives,” Matz said. “They deserve accolades for what is a major accomplishment.”

The Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act (H.R. 233/S.128), introduced by Rep. Thompson (D-CA) and Democrat Senators Feinstein and Boxer, would protect 279,000 acres and 21 miles of rivers in the northwest part of the state, including the North Coast’s spectacular King Range, the longest stretch of undeveloped coastline in the lower 48 states. A slightly different version of this bill passed the Senate in July of 2005.

The Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act (H.R. 3603), sponsored by Rep. Simpson (R-ID), includes a provision to protect more than 310,000 acres of wilderness in central Idaho’s Boulder-White Cloud Mountains.

The Mount Hood Stewardship Legacy Act (H.R. 5025), introduced by Oregon Representatives Walden (R) and Blumenauer (D), would protect 77,500 acres of wilderness in the forested slopes on that state’s iconic feature, and provide Wild and Scenic status to almost 26 miles of rivers.

In addition to the bills that cleared the House today, legislation is currently pending in Congress to permanently protect nearly 100,000 acres of alpine peaks and lush old-growth forests in Washington state; ninety-five percent of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park; 20,000 acres of Colorado’s Browns Canyon – the view shed for a large stretch of the Arkansas River; 34,500 acres in the Sandwich Range and Wild River region of New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest; 50,000 acres in Vermont’s Green Mountain National Forest, and nearly 58,000 acres in Virginia’s National Forest, including a section of the Appalachian Trail.

“The 109th Congress is poised to leave a greater wilderness legacy than was bequeathed in the past decade,” said Matz. “And that is a precious gift to our children—and theirs.”

Campaign for America's Wilderness

The Campaign for America’s Wilderness is a national wilderness advocacy organization that works with local and state partner organizations to protect the nation’s last wild places for future generations.

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