The Pew Charitable Trusts submitted written responses to two hearings of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining, held June 16 and June 23, on 10 public land and river conservation bills. In the comments, Pew encouraged quick passage of nine of the bills, which cover territory in seven mostly Western states: California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Washington. Pew opposed the 10th bill, citing concerns that amending the Wilderness Act to allow the use of mechanized vehicles such as bicycles would permanently weaken statutory protections for all wilderness areas designated by Congress since 1964.
If enacted, the nine measures that Pew supports would provide significant new safeguards: more than 4,700 miles of wild and scenic river designations in Oregon; the largest conservation bill in Nevada’s history; 400,000 protected acres in Colorado, including the nation’s first national historic landscape, the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division World War II training site; and over 120,000 acres of wilderness protections on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. These bills also enjoy broad support in their target states, including from Indigenous tribes, local businesses and governments, veterans, and outdoor enthusiasts.