Wilderness Under Siege: Act now to stop the attacks - Updated April 2012

Alamo Mountain Otero Mesa New Mexico

Nathan Newcomer

Giving Away Our Great Outdoors

Since the beginning of the 112th Congress, there has been a wave of legislation seeking to systematically dismantle the laws that protect America’s wilderness and public lands. Nearly 50 years after the landmark 1964 Wilderness Act, we are witnessing a giveaway of our great outdoors to polluters and irresponsible developers, one that threatens the fabric of wild places and the clean air, clean water and economic support that they provide to surrounding communities. This new report shows that nearly half a billion acres are at risk.

A new bipartisan survey sponsored by Colorado College (“Conservation in the West Poll”) found that keeping wilderness out of the hands of developers is an issue that cuts across party lines. People of all political stripes in six western states agree that enjoyment of our public lands is important to their communities and economies. With these legislative attacks, some in Congress have shown that they are badly out of touch with the needs and desires of the people they serve.

These wild places are a great source of economic activity, especially in the rural communities that surround them.  Outdoor recreation, natural resource conservation, and historic preservation activities contribute more than $1 trillion annually to the economy, support 9.4 million jobs and generate over $100 billion in federal, state and local taxes. Now is not the time to hurt the places that need economic support the most.

Let Congress know that we will protect our lands against those who wish to exploit them.

Support our wilderness and public lands by signing this petition.

Assaults on Public Lands Across America Interactive Map

This interactive map details, state by state, how the bills introduced in the House of Representatives will destroy the protections that public lands have long enjoyed. Click on your state to see what is at stake. Read below the map for more information on the threats.

How to use this map:
- Use the + / - buttons to zoom in and out
- Use the arrows to pan up, down, left or right
- Click on a pin to get more information about each state
If you are unable to see this map, please visit our text-based version.



Read the full report - Dowload the full report

H.R. 1505
This bill (HR 1505) hands over “operational control” to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of all federal lands, including National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, National Forests, and BLM lands that lie within 100 miles of the Mexican and Canadian borders.  In addition, the bill exempts the DHS from having to comply with dozens of environmental, public land management, and religious freedom statutes. Under this bill, some of our nation’s most iconic places – such as North Cascades National Park, Big Bend National Park, Allegheny National Forest, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and Glacier National Park – could be at risk.

April 2012 Update: H.R. 1505 has been passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee, as well as the House Agriculture and Homeland Security Committees. This dangerous bill is set to be voted on by the full House of Representatives at any time. The bill is opposed by conservation groups, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture, outdoor recreation groups, and the Department of Homeland Security.
More information on H.R. 1505

End the National Monuments Acts
Eight different bills have been introduced that have the sole purpose of gutting the Antiquities Act. All of these bills eviscerate the president’s authority to designate new national monuments under the 1906 Antiquities Act. The Antiquities Act is one of America’s bedrock land protection statutes, and has been used by Republican and Democratic Presidents alike to protect places like the Grand Canyon, Muir Woods and Devil’s Tower for over a hundred years.

April 2012 Update: In mid-April, the House of Representatives voted on an amendment that was the most far reaching of these bills. The House voted to pass this amendment and showed its determination in destroying long held bipartisan consensus on national monuments and conservation. The bill with this amendment has been sent to the Senate for consideration.
More information on the End of the National Monuments Acts

Drill the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Act
Once again, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is under attack. The bill would open up the Arctic Refuge to oil and gas drilling, eviscerating the protections now afforded to “America’s Serengeti Plain.” The case for drilling in the Arctic Refuge has been debunked over and over again, as some members of Congress repeatedly attempt to open up one of the most environmentally sensitive areas in the country to oil and gas development.

April 2012 Update: As part of H.R. 3407, which was an attempt to fund United States transportation infrastructure with miniscule drilling revenues, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would mandate drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. A bipartisan group of members tried to defeat this bill, which would endanger this pristine refuge, and put all United States national wildlife refuges at risk, but it was not enough to overcome House leadership. The bill in now in conference with the Senate, which passed its own transportation bill funded without drilling in the Arctic Refuge.
More information on the Drill the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Act

The Motorize our Wilderness Areas Act
This bill might be the mother of all sneak attacks on the Wilderness Act.  A benign looking bill to improve access for hunters and anglers, this bill contains within it a provision that would effectively destroy The Wilderness Act by allowing motorized use of designated Wilderness Areas.  Ironically allowing motor vehicles in designated Wilderness Areas would harm the very recreational fishing and hunting opportunities the bill is intended to protect.

April 2012 Update: The Motorize our Wilderness Areas Act was combined with other bills to comprise H.R. 4089 in the House of Representatives. It passed with minimal amendments, including an anti-Antiquities Act amendment that was modeled after H.R. 302.  Characterized by proponents as expanding sportsmen’s access, the bill includes a Trojan Horse provision which will lead to motorized access in wilderness areas. This bill has been sent to the Senate for consideration.
More information on the Motorize our Wilderness Areas Act

The Great Outdoors Giveaway
The granddaddy of the attacks on our wild places, The Great Outdoors Giveaway (HR 1581) 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 BLM Wilderness Study Areas. This bill gives corporate polluters and developers, who already have access to 76 percent of all national forests and Bureau of Land Management lands.
More information on the Great Outdoors Giveaway

Mining the Grand Canyon for Uranium Act
This bill (HR 3155) would open up uranium mining near the Grand Canyon, possibly causing a rush to stake mining claims in environmentally sensitive areas, and give large mining corporation unfettered access to one of our most iconic National Parks.
For more information on the Mining the Grand Canyon for Uranium Act click here.

30 Million Acre Giveaway Act
The “30 Million Acre Giveaway Act” (HR 2852) requires that the federal government literally give away - free-of-charge - 5% of the “unappropriated public lands” – defined to include national forests and BLM lands – to each western state.  The amount of federal public land to be given away under this proposal would be roughly 30 million acres, or close to the size of the state of New York.  It would be a bonanza for western land developers and a big hit to American taxpayers who would be losing their public land for private gain.  
More information on the 30 Million Acre Giveaway Act