Hearing on wilderness bills underscores bipartisan support

Oct 25, 2011

Committee holds first wilderness hearing in the 112th Congress

The Wilderness Society today welcomed the first hearing that the House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands has held on legislation to designate new wilderness during the 112th Congress. The bills being considered today demonstrate that wilderness protection continues to receive broad support from the American people as well as both Democrats and Republicans in Congress. The hearing stands in stark contrast to the barrage of anti-conservation measures that have been introduced this year. 

The bills also speak to the economic benefits that wilderness can bring to rural communities.  Additionally, a recent report by The Wilderness Society found that wilderness designation benefits local economies through long-term, sustainable jobs in outdoor recreation, restoration, renewable energy and energy efficiency.

“These bills are literarily a breath of fresh air for the House Natural Resources Committee and the diverse communities that support these wilderness protection measures,” said Paul Spitler, National Wilderness Campaigns Associate Director at The Wilderness Society. “Recently we’ve seen too many efforts to give away our great outdoors, and this hearing is an opportunity to get back to protecting our wild places. We hope the committee will get to work on passing these measures as soon as possible.”

The wilderness designation bills under consideration supported by The Wilderness Society include:

• The Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and the Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act (H.R. 608) -- introduced by Rep. Dave Reichert (R, WA-8) -- would protect an additional 22,000 acres of wilderness adjoining the existing Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area and would designate nearly 30 miles of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River and 10 miles of the Pratt River as Wild and Scenic Rivers.

• The Devil’s Staircase Wilderness Act of 2011 (H.R. 1413) -- introduced by Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D, OR-4) -- would protect 29,650 acres of wilderness within Oregon’s coastal rainforest and roughly 19 miles of Wild and Scenic River.

• The Cibola National Forest Boundary Expansion Legislation (H.R. 490) -- introduced by Rep. Martin Heinrich (D, NM-1) -- adds 896 acres to the Manzano Mountain Wilderness and will protect a critical wildlife corridor through the Sandia and Manzano Mountains.

• The Angeles and San Bernardino National Forests Protection Act (H.R. 113) -- introduced by Rep. David Dreier (R, CA-26) -- would protect an additional 18,000 acres of public lands in the San Gabriel Mountains as wilderness.

• The Beauty Mountain Agua Tibia Wilderness Act of 2011 (H.R. 41) -- introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa (R, CA-49) -- would protect  21,000 acres of exceptional rock formations, steep canyons and chaparral and oak woodlands in San Diego County.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Conservation and Recreation Act (H.R. 977) -- introduced by Rep. Bill Huizenga (R, MI-2) -- would protect 32,557 acres of wilderness located on Lake Michigan.

To see a full list of wilderness bills pending in the 112th Congress, please visit: http://wilderness.org/content/112th-congress-and-wildlands