07/21/2008 - Congress has an opportunity to add significantly to the nation’s store of protected wilderness — a million new acres at a minimum, and perhaps twice that if everything falls into place. But it must move quickly. This is an election year, with many other distractions, including an economic crisis and soaring fuel prices, and there is not a lot of time left to pass legislation.
So far, this Congress has passed one wilderness bill — setting aside more than 100,000 acres of clear streams, alpine peaks and old-growth forests in Washington State. An additional 900,000 acres of potential wilderness in five states — including 250,000 acres in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains — would be protected in a bill introduced in the Senate last month by Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico.
There are also a dozen other measures at various stages in the legislative process — including several that would protect large areas in California — and these could conceivably push the total to two million.
Read the full editorial Two Million Acres of Wilderness on the New York Times' Web site.