Two Million Acres Up for ‘Wilderness’ Designation


Congress is on the brink of barring all development on huge swaths of forest and desert in nine states, in what would be the most sweeping land-protection law in 15 years.

Land-preservation advocates, such as Paul Spitler of the Wilderness Society, say the bill's passage may usher in a new era of wilderness protection. "We're likely to see new wilderness legislation for years to come," Spitler says. "This is the start of a wave here."

…Lawmakers who back the bill say support is growing for land preservation. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, says she's "optimistic" that Congress can make "a fresh start with public lands legislation and find a way to find consensus on these types of bills."

Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., has said he's likely to introduce a bill to establish wilderness in southern Arizona.