Colorado's San Juan Mountains stand to gain the protections they deserve.
Random Letters, flickr
If the Senate is any indication, your support of wilderness bills may meet success this year. On June 18, after months of speculation about how wilderness-friendly the 113th Congress will be, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed five bills that we support and have been working to pass.
These bills include three wilderness designation bills and two others that would preserve special lands through other protections!
Oregon, Colorado and Nevada would gain protections
Kayakers on Oregon's Chetco River. By Northwest Rafting Company
The Wilderness Society applauds the committee’s bipartisan efforts to protect America’s wildlands and waters for future generations.
The three wilderness bills mark a huge victory for the protection of our wilderness and signals momentum in the Senate for the continued preservation of our cherished wild areas.
Oregon: The Oregon Treasures Act (S. 353) would protect three miles of the Chetco River, add 60,000 acres of designated wilderness to the Wild Rogue Wilderness, and designate 21.3 miles of the Molalla River as “recreational” under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
Colorado: The San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act (S. 341) would protect more than 61,000 acres of southern Colorado wildlands, including the designation of 33,000 acres of wilderness.
Nevada: The Lyon County Economic Development and Conservation Act (S.159) would designate approximately 48,000 acres of central Nevada’s Pine Grove Hills as wilderness.
All three bills – supported by both Democrats and Republicans alike -- protect land that cradles precious headwaters and wildlife habitat.
The areas protected in Oregon, Colorado and Nevada are home to a rich array of fish, wildlife, flora and fauna. These bills also have support from a broad spectrum of groups and organizations, from hunters to anglers, hikers to bird watchers, bikers to campers.
Protections for Montana and New Mexico
Two other bills would continue to preserve significant lands in New Mexico and Montana:
Montana: The North Fork Watershed Protection Act of 2013 would prevent any future mining or oil and gas development just outside of Glacier National Park, protecting the pristine waters of the Flathead River from mining impacts.
New Mexico: The Valles Caldera National Preserve Management Act (S. 285) would transfer management of New Mexico's Valles Caldera National Preserve to the National Park Service (NPS), creating robust economic benefits for New Mexico while simultaneously protecting the continued use of the preserve for grazing, hunting and fishing.
As we continue into the 113th Congress, The Wilderness Society is pleased to see the Senate moving wilderness legislation.
We are hopeful that this continued momentum will inspire the U.S. House of Representatives to stop its logjam of wilderness bills and start to move the dozens of community-crafted bills stalled from last Congress
Photo: Cow elk in Valles Caldera, New Mexico. Larry 1732, flickr