Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee holds mark-up on wilderness and conservation bills

Jun 18, 2013

U.S. Capitol Building

Library of Congress
The Wilderness Society applauds movement of wilderness bills but raises concerns over two measures

Contacts:

Alan Rowsome, (202)285-8134, alan_rowsome@tws.org

Emily Diamond-Falk, (202) 841-8605, emily_diamond-falk@tws.org
 

WASHINGTON (June 18, 2013) – The Wilderness Society today took a position on several bills being marked-up in the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.   

“We are encouraged to see the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee moving forward with bipartisan wilderness and conservation bills,” said Alan Rowsome, senior director of government relations for lands at The Wilderness Society.   “Many thanks to Chairman Wyden for his continued leadership to move locally crafted measures that will safeguard our land and water for future generations.  We hope the committee continues to mark-up legislation that puts the best interests of American communities and their health first.”

 

Of the 12 bills being marked-up, The Wilderness Society expressed concerns with the Sealaska (S. 340) and Cape Hatteras (S. 486) proposals, while supporting the following:

  • Oregon Treasures Act (S. 353) – sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and co-sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) – would protect three miles of the Chetco River, add 60,000 acres of wilderness to the Wild Rogue Wilderness, and designate 21.3 miles of the Molalla River as “recreational” under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. It will also protect 143 miles of tributaries that feed into the Rogue River and preserve more than 17,000 acres near Horse Heaven and Cathedral Rock.
     
  • San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act (S. 341) – sponsored by Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) and co-sponsored by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) – would protect over 61,000 acres of southern Colorado wildlands, including the designation of 33,000 acres of wilderness. The legislation would protect the heart of the San Juan Mountains, including cool, azure blue lakes, jagged peaks, lush old growth spruce and fir forests, meadows laden with wildflowers, and golden groves of aspen.  The bill has tremendous community support from local elected officials, conservation and recreation organizations, and businesses.
  • Lyon County Economic Development and Conservation Act (S. 159) – sponsored by Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) and co-sponsored by Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) – would designate approximately 48,000 acres of central Nevada’s Pine Grove Hills as wilderness. Situated between the Sweetwater Mountains and Wassuk Range, the Pine Grove Hills contain a variety of Great Basin habitats, offer outstanding recreational opportunities, and harbor world-class archeological resources. 
     
  • North Fork Watershed Protection Act of 2013 (S. 255) – sponsored by Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) and co-sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) – 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. Rep. Steve Daines (R, MT-At large) recently introduced companion legislation in the House (H.R. 2259). In addition, passage of this bill ensures that the United States “acts by example” and fully engages in the coordinated, partnership approach requested by the province of British Columbia when they agreed in early 2010 to take action to protect the Canadian side of the North Fork Flathead from coal, oil and gas, and mining development.
     
  • Valles Caldera National Preserve Management Act (S. 285) – sponsored by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) and co-sponsored by Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) – would transfer management of the 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. This legislation would also ensure the protection of traditional cultural and religious sites while providing for tribal access to these sites.

The Wilderness Society is pleased to see the Senate continue to move wilderness legislation, as it did during the 112th Congress. We are hopeful that this continued momentum will prompt 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.

 

To see a complete list of wilderness bills in the 113th Congress, please visit: http://wilderness.org/article/113th-congress-wilderness-bills.  

 

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The Wilderness Society is the leading wild public lands conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than 500,000 members and supporters, TWS has led the effort to permanently protect 110 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands. www.wilderness.org