Right now, a sweeping and long-awaited package of bills that would conserve hundreds of thousands of acres of new Wilderness and other special public lands is working its way through Congress. If passed, the omnibus lands act, would provide the greatest expansion of the National Wilderness Preservation System in 14 years.
So much work has gone into making these wilderness-friendly bills a reality, but with the end of the legislative year, many larger, controversial national issues have taken attention away from passing the legislation.
Here I am at one of the West’s wildest and most spectacular waterways — eastern Oregon’s Owyhee River will offer the chance to escape to a remote desert canyon for six days, where I’ll enjoy stunning towers and rock formations, soak in natural hot springs, catch glimpses of soaring raptors and California bighorn sheep, and test my skill against exciting whitewater rapids.
A recent report from The Wilderness Society shows that the Tongass National Forest contributes more than $2 billion to local economies through non-timber uses, such as recreation and tourism, commercial salmon fishing, subsistence and scientific research.
Stand at the edge of Island in the Sky in Canyonlands National Park near Moab, Utah, and be prepared to be swept away by a landscape of redrock badlands and canyon country.
This extraordinary national park, with its enormous views and unique geologic features, is largely managed by the Bureau of Land Management – and unfortunately the BLM is making some very disconcerting decisions about this precious part of south-eastern Utah.
It’s been called fool’s gold for a reason. For decades, energy companies have tried to extract oil from rock, but oil shale technology has never been developed to make large-scale production economically viable or environmentally sound.
Even the oil and gas industry admits that a viable oil shale technology is years, if not decades, away.
Yet, despite large public concern, Congress has given the go-ahead for oil shale development on public lands in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming, three states that are home to major oil shale deposits.
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As Americans, each of us inherits an extraordinary wilderness legacy — spectacular national parks, tranquil deserts and canyons, wildlife-rich wetlands and seashores and towering forests. Our nation has had the wisdom and foresight to protect a wealth of these public lands that contain some of the most stunning places in the world.
In New Mexico’s Santa Fe National Forest you’ll find one of the most heavily roaded forests in the southwest. More than 4,470 miles of road braid across its landscape—enough to take you from Santa Fe to Reykjavik, Iceland.
If loads of roads weren’t what you were expecting to find in a national forest, you’ll be happy to know that the forest may soon see a return of roadless areas.
Recently, the forest released an initial plan to close many miles of unnecessary, environmentally damaging roads across the forest.