Monumental National Wilderness Bill Passes Congress

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Paul Spitler (202-429-2672) or Drew Bush (202-429-7441)

Monumental National Wilderness Bill Passes Congress

Will protect over 2 million acres of wilderness in nine states

WASHINGTON - The U.S. House of Representatives today
passed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, which would
permanently protect more than 2 million acres of America's
wilderness in California, Colorado,
Idaho, Michigan,
New Mexico, Oregon,
Utah, Virginia,
and West Virginia.
The
omnibus lands act provides the greatest expansion of the National Wilderness
Preservation System in 15 years.  It now advances to the President's
desk, where it is expected to be signed into law.

"This
is a monumental day for wilderness and for all Americans who enjoy the great
outdoors," said William H. Meadows, president of The Wilderness Society.
"With passage of this bill, Congress has made a great gift to present and
future generations of Americans. These special places make our communities
better places to live, clean our air and water for free, and provide ecological
resilience in the face of climate change. They're also great places to
hike and camp and fish with family and friends, of course." 

The
bill is the culmination of more than a decade of work by citizens from across
the country. In addition to the new wilderness, the bill also makes permanent the National
Landscape Conservation System, comprised of 26 million acres of the best lands
and waters administered by the Bureau of Land Management, and provides
additional protections to more than 1.2 million acres of wild landscapes in the
Wyoming Range
of western Wyoming's Bridger-Teton National
Forest. 

Unfortunately,
the package also includes a provision that is incompatible with the
bill's conservation measures. The Izembek provision could result in
removal of 200 acres of wilderness in Alaska
to build a harmful and unnecessary road.  Meadows said The Wilderness
Society will continue to work to ensure that this valuable wilderness and
wildlife resource remains protected.

"Today,
Congress made a huge investment in America's natural
heritage," said Paul Spitler,
The Wilderness Society's Associate Director for National Wilderness
Campaigns. "Future generations will thank us for preserving these special
places and Congress deserves the gratitude of the American people for setting
aside these magnificent landscapes."

For a description of key
conservation provisions in the omnibus public land management act,
click here.   To see the amount of wilderness
designated by past Congresses,
click here.  For more information about the omnibus public
management act and its provisions, contact Paul
Spitler at (202) 429-2672 or
paul_spitler@tws.org

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Since 1935, The Wilderness Society has led the conservation movement in wilderness protection, writing and passing the landmark Wilderness Act and winning lasting protection for 107 million acres of Wilderness, including 56 million acres of spectacular lands in Alaska, eight million acres of fragile desert lands in California and millions more throughout the nation.

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