Senate Passes Public Lands Bill

Senate Passes Public Lands Bill

The U.S. Senate today by a vote of 73 to 21 approved the first wilderness measures of the 111th Congress as part of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act (S. 22), sending the bill to the House of Representatives. Mike Matz, Executive Director of the Campaign for America's Wilderness, said of the vote:

“Senate passage of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act sets a great tone for the new Congress and the new Administration. This broadly-backed bill containing 16 bipartisan wilderness measures will protect for all Americans more than two million acres across nine states from California to West Virginia. When passed by the House and signed into law by the new President, it will be the single largest addition to the National Wilderness Preservation System in fifteen years – a worthy gift for our children and grandchildren.

“Consideration of this bill so early in the year sends a clear message that Americans believe protected wilderness is a worthwhile investment in our country's future. Study after study shows that protected natural areas are a boost to the economic fortunes of nearby communities. Wilderness is a much-needed antidote to these difficult times and a priceless gift to the future generations of Americans who will be able to enjoy these beautiful places just as they are today. We applaud the hard work and strong leadership of Sen. Harry Reid and the tireless efforts of Sen. Bingaman in getting this important measure through the Senate, and encourage the House to quickly follow suit."

Wilderness measures in the Omnibus Public Land Package:


  • Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Wild Heritage Act, to preserve more than 450,000 acres of wilderness and 73 miles of wild and scenic rivers near Santa Clarita and in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Range, including the White Mountains.
  • California Desert and Mountain Heritage Act of 2007, to protect some 190,000 acres in Riverside County as wilderness, including parts of Joshua Tree National Park.
  • Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Wilderness Act of 2008, nearly 85,000 acres of wilderness, including the new John Krebs Wilderness, named for the former congressman and conservationist who fought to protect these lands in the Mineral King Valley.


  • Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness and Indian Peaks Wilderness Expansion Act, to protect nearly 250,000 acres of Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park.
  • Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area and Dominguez Canyon Wilderness Area Act, including protection for 66,000 acres of red rock sandstone canyons, cliffs, streams and waterfalls in western Colorado.


  • Owyhee Public Lands Management Act, which will protect as wilderness 517,000 acres in Idaho's Owyhee-Bruneau Canyonlands.


  • Beaver Basin Wilderness Act would permanently protect 11,739 acres of wilderness at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

New Mexico:

  • Sabinoso Wilderness Act, to protect more than 15,000 acres in San Miguel County as wilderness. The area is one of the finest intact Great-plains ecosystems left in New Mexico.


  • Copper-Salmon Wilderness Act, to protect 13,700 acres of pristine old-growth forest in Oregon's Siskiyou National Forest.
  • Lewis and Clark Mount Hood Wilderness Act, to permanently protect more than 128,000 acres of national forest on Mount Hood in Oregon.
  • Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Voluntary and Equitable Grazing Conflict Resolution Act, to protect 23,000 acres in southeastern Oregon's Soda Mountain region.
  • Oregon Badlands Wilderness Act of 2008 would protect nearly 31,000 acres of wilderness in the Badlands just east of Bend.
  • Spring Basin Wilderness Act of 2008, to protect over 8,600 acres of wilderness overlooking the John Day Wild and Scenic River.


  • Washington County Growth & Conservation Act of 2008 would protect nearly 256,000 acres of wilderness in Zion National Park and the surrounding county.


  • Virginia Ridge and Valley Wilderness and National Scenic Area Act, protecting 43,000 acres of the Jefferson National Forest as wilderness, and 12,000 as a national scenic area.

West Virginia:

  • Wild Monongahela Act, to protect 37,000 acres in the Monongahela National Forest, including four new wilderness areas: Big Draft, Roaring Plains West and Spice Run.