In a Congressional season marked by radical anti-wilderness legislation and historic cuts to environmental programs that protect our land, water, and air, bipartisan action in the Senate seems increasingly rare. Yet across the country, citizen groups, and conservation Champions in the House and Senate, are pushing back against these attacks on wilderness, calling for greater protection for the vulnerable wild lands in their backyards.
Despite the heated rhetoric of Washington, new wilderness and wildlands bills are moving their way through Congress. Legislators from both sides of the aisle have worked together to turn the grassroots action of their constituents into a collection of wilderness and wildlands bills currently awaiting action in the House and Senate.
Places like New Mexico’s Rio Grande Gorge and California’s San Gabriel Mountains are already local favorites for hiking, camping, fishing and wildlife viewing, yet these areas and others around the country have been left with inadequate or nonexistent protection. The bills introduced in Congress this session would protect millions of acres of essential wildlife habitat, stunning vistas and unparalleled recreation opportunities.
“These bills are a bright spot in a time when many wild places are under attack,” said Paul Spitler, National Wilderness Campaigns Associate Director at The Wilderness Society. “Now more than ever it is vital that members of Congress come together to protect these treasured places.”
Unlike anti-wilderness legislation introduced in the House and Senate, many of these wilderness and wildlands bills have sponsors from both political parties.
A bipartisan effort to protect America’s environment and wild places shouldn’t be surprising—after all, the American conservation tradition has been driven by heroes of all political stripes. Since 1908, 15 presidents from both parties have used the Antiquities Act to protect imperiled ecological or cultural treasures. With every new Congress, wilderness and wildlands bills are introduced and significant wild places protected, no matter the majority party.
“The wilderness and wildlands bills in Congress this session remind us that the solitude and beauty of America’s wild rivers, mountains and valleys can be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of politics,” said Spitler. “They are proof that wilderness inspires and rejuvenates across party lines.”
For more information about these bills, check out our list of wilderness and wildlands bills currently in Congress.