Corporate polluters may soon gain access to another huge slice of wilderness as U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) pushes forward risky legislation this summer that opens tens of millions of acres of pristine American lands. H.R. 1581, the Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act, which we like to call the “Great Outdoors Giveaway,” would give corporate polluters and developers access to 60 million more acres of wild lands. That’s the size of Wyoming!
Check out our slideshow of pristine places that would go on the chopping block under this bill:
Why is H.R. 1581 a great outdoors giveaway?
Corporations already have access to 76 percent of National Forest and Bureau of Land Management lands. Do they really need more?
Today corporate polluters and developers have access to 76 percent of National Forests and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands, leaving less than a quarter of those lands, with some level of wilderness protection. Under H.R. 1581, the Great Outdoors Giveaway, that percentage of protected lands would shrink to just 12 percent, giving polluters and developers access to a whopping 88 percent of all National Forest and BLM lands.
Passage of this bill would throw the management of our public lands dangerously out of balance. It tips the scales even further in favor of developers and polluters, and would destroy pristine wilderness that, once lost, is gone forever.
The bill threatens our water supply
This legislation would give away more than 60 million acres of public land to people who will pollute the water we drink and the air we breathe. National Forests provide drinking water for more than 123 million Americans. Clean air will also suffer, because these forests and wild lands also play a critical role in filtering pollution and providing clean air to millions of Americans.
An area the size of Wyoming is at risk
More than 60 million acres of land would be opened to polluters under H.R. 1581. That’s an area of land larger than the state of Wyoming which would lose protection and be opened up to the oil and gas industry – such as fracking, corporate developers and others.
Over three-quarters of the states would be impacted by this legislation, including 13 million acres of wild Alaska forests, nine million acres in Idaho, and nearly five million acres in California. Click here to see how many acres are impacted in your state.
Our American Heritage is at Risk
H.R. 1581 would remove protections that have been in place for decades from some of America’s most iconic lands, including the Red Rock deserts of southern Utah, California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, and the Appalachians. The places that generations of Americans have come to know and love could disappear before our eyes.
The Great Outdoors Giveaway: What H.R. 1581 Does
- Rolls back protections for unroaded National Forests: H.R. 1581 would open up nearly 60 million acres of roadless national forest lands to road building, commercial logging, and other destructive development.
- BLM Wilderness Study Areas…going, going, gone?: H.R. 1581 would strip existing protections from nearly seven million acres of BLM Wilderness Study Areas that have not yet been considered by Congress for Wilderness designation. Passage of the bill would all but guarantee that tens of millions of acres of public lands and national forests currently protected would lose that protection and their wild land qualities would be forever lost.
- Multiple use would be a thing of the past: The Great Outdoors Giveaway would also overturn a decades-old policy of balancing the myriad uses of federal lands. Under this policy, known as “multiple use,” land managers analyze federal lands to determine the best uses for each landscape.
- Undermines Congressional authority: Existing laws allow the Forest Service and BLM to identify and protect areas with wilderness characteristics from incompatible uses – authority that H.R. 1581 would gut. As a consequence, Congress would likely not have the ability to designate as wilderness many of the areas currently protected by the Forest Service and BLM because the lands would likely no longer possess wilderness qualities if opened to development by this misguided proposal.