112th Congress breathes new life into wilderness protection

May 11, 2011

Conservation bills brought before Senate Committee

Numerous bills that failed to pass before Congress adjourned last Congressional session are receiving their first hearing today in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on National Parks.

From California to New York, the bills being reviewed would protect historical, cultural and natural treasures, such as wilderness areas and precious water supplies.

“These bills almost made it over the finish line last Congress,” said Paul Spitler, National Wilderness Campaigns Associate Director at The Wilderness Society. “This hearing is a reflection of the perseverance on-the-ground for wilderness protection, and it represents a fresh start for them in the 112th Congress.”

The hearing will review 20 bills, six of which are wildland and wilderness protection measures that The Wilderness Society supports:

Pinnacles National Park Act (S. 161), introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and cosponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), would designate Pinnacles as a National Park, while also adding nearly 3,000 acres of the monument to the National Wilderness Preservation System.

The Chimney Rock National Monument Establishment Act (S. 508) would create the Chimney Rock National Monument in southwest Colorado. The legislation will designate the 4,726 acre area as a National Monument and protect the region which contains watershed, scenic, archeological and cultural resources. The Act was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) and cosponsored by Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO).

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Conservation and Recreation Act (S. 140) would protect 32,557 acres of Wilderness. This act was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) and cosponsored by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).  A companion bill (H.R. 977) has been introduced in the House by Rep. Bill Huizenga (R, MI-2) with numerous cosponsors.

The Valles Caldera National Preserve Management Act (S. 564), would transfer management of the Valles Caldera from the Valles Caldera Trust to the National Park Service, which has the resources and experience to better manage the Preserve. The Act was re-introduced in March by Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Tom Udall (D-NM).

The Molalla River Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (S. 403) would protect 15.1 miles of the Molalla River as components of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, among other protections. This Act was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and cosponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), with companion legislation in the House (H.R. 752) introduced by Rep. Kurt Schrader (D, OR-5) with numerous cosponsors.

The Oregon Caves Revitalization Act of 2011 (S. 765) would expand Oregon Caves National Monument. This Act was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and cosponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), with companion legislation in the House (H.R. 1414) introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D, OR-4) with numerous cosponsors.

To view a complete list of bills The Wilderness Society would like to see move forward this Congress, please visit: wilderness.org/content/112th-congress-and-wildlands