The Anti-Wilderness Bill: Groups across the country sign letter in opposition

The Wilderness Society and a coalition of more than  100 local and national groups sent a letter to members of the House of Representatives on June 14 asking them to oppose a bill that would end protections for vast tracks of pristine wild lands.

The Wilderness and Roadless Release Act (H.R. 1581/S.1087), introduced in the House by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and in the Senate by Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), proposes to roll-back protections for tens of millions of acres of roadless and wilderness-quality National Forest lands and public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. It is a wholesale assault to provisions of the law that protect these lands.

“By eliminating these protections and opening up these lands to development, this legislation would rob the American people of their national heritage and would deny future Americans the opportunities to visit these undeveloped lands,” the letter states.

The letter comes as momentum is building across the country for greater protection of our natural places. In mid-June, former-Interior Secretary, Bruce Babbitt, called on the Obama administration to take a stronger stance on conservation. His calls were answered by the current Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, sending his own letter to Congress pushing for a bipartisan Wilderness agenda.

Our WildAlert members have also been involved by protesting the administration’s recent abandonment of its Wild Lands policy. The policy, welcomed by conservation groups, would have allowed the Bureau of Land Management to inventory and protect wilderness quality lands on our iconic western BLM lands until Congress can get around to permanently protecting them.

The McCarthy/Barrasso legislation is just one in a series of large-scale attacks that anti-wilderness members of Congress have been waging on wilderness this year.

“The American people have had enough of these attacks on our wild places,” said Paul Spitler, National Wilderness Campaigns Associate Director at The Wilderness Society. “This bill jeopardizes some of the most special landscapes in America. We are asking Congress to reject this shortsighted proposal and preserve our shared lands so our kids can enjoy them as we do today.”

View the letter opposing the Wilderness and Roadless Release Act.