Wilderness bills pass out of Senate committee with bipartisan support

Nov 10, 2011

The Wilderness Society urges Congress to pass key wilderness legislation

The Wilderness Society today praised the passage of six wilderness bills out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.  The bills being considered today demonstrate that wilderness protection continues to receive broad support from the American people in addition to Democrats and Republicans in Congress. This welcomed Senate activity stands in stark contrast to the barrage of anti-conservation measures that have been introduced this year, primarily in the House. The bills now wait for passage on the Senate floor.

“The fact that the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee took up these bills signals that support for wilderness is strong in both chambers,” said Paul Spitler, senior regional conservation representative at The Wilderness Society. “These are the wilderness efforts that deserve support in Congress, not radical legislation that aims to give away our great outdoors. We hope the measures considered today become law this Congress.”

The bills also speak to the economic benefits that wilderness can bring to rural communities through jobs, real estate value and tourism.  A recent report by The Wilderness Society found that wilderness designation benefits local economies through long-term, sustainable jobs in outdoor recreation, restoration, renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The wilderness designation bills under consideration supported by The Wilderness Society include:

  • The Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and the Pratt and Middle Fork Snoqualmie Rivers Protection Act (S. 322) -- introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) -- would protect an additional 22,000 acres of wilderness adjoining the existing Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area, and would designate nearly 30 miles of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River and 10 miles of the Pratt River as Wild and Scenic Rivers.


  • El Rio Grande Del Norte National Conservation Area Establishment Act (S. 667) -- introduced by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) -- would protect 24,000 acres of wilderness and 235,000 acres as a National Conservation Area.


  • The Devil’s Staircase Wilderness Act of 2011 (S. 766) -- introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) -- would protect 29,650 acres of wilderness within Oregon’s coastal rainforest and roughly 19 miles of Wild and Scenic River.


  • The Oregon Caves Revitalization Act of 2011 -- introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) --would expand the Oregon Caves National Monument.



  • The Tennessee Wilderness Act of 2011 -- introduced by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) -- would permanently protect 20,500 acres of wilderness in Tennessee’s Cherokee National Forest.