Great Outdoors Giveaway

H.R. 1581, “The Great Outdoors Giveaway”

Introduced by Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the third-ranking Republican in the House, H.R. 1581, the “Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act,” better known as The Great Outdoors Giveaway, would eliminate the Forest Service’s roadless rule, which protects over 58 million acres of national forest roadless lands, as well as 6.7 million acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wilderness Study Areas, and prohibits the BLM from implementing Secretary Salazar’s Wild Lands policy to protect wilderness-quality BLM lands. During a hearing in mid-summer of of 2011, former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt testified that H.R. 1581, “…is the most radical, overreaching attempt to dismantle the architecture of our public land laws that has been proposed in my lifetime.”

This bill gives corporate polluters and irresponsible developers, who already have access to 76 percent of all national forests and BLM lands, access to even more of America’s vanishing wilderness. This bill is a blank check for corporate polluters to exploit wilderness in more than three dozen states. The agencies responsible for the land covered in the “Great Outdoors Giveaway” manage these lands for multiple uses, including wildlife habitat, wilderness, recreation and ecosystem services (like clean water). This bill would take some of our most pristine and spectacular examples of our natural heritage and open them up to reckless development, even preventing federal land management agencies from providing new protections to wilderness-caliber lands in the future. This short-sighted bill would have devastating impacts on the wildlife that take refuge in these protected areas, reduce opportunities for outdoor recreation — such as hunting and fishing — and put at risk some of the last intact ecosystems in our nation.