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05/27/2009

Sierra Club Gears Up for Next Round of Wilderness Bills

With the passage of the Omnibus Lands Bill now two months behind us, the time is ripe to begin building support for another set of wilderness bills.  HR. 146, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act, protected hundreds of miles of rivers and gave wilderness protections to over 2 million acres.  The passage of that bill took years and was an enormous accomplishment.  We now have the momentum to pass legislation that will protect even more lands as wilderness, reduce stressors on wildlife, and focus on managing ecosystems to adapt to a climate changing world.  Three of the Sierra Club's top priorities are below:

RMNP

Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act - HR 980

This bill was introduced in the House on February 11 and focuses on protecting and restoring more than 24 million acres of public land in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, eastern Oregon, and eastern Washington.  This includes wilderness designations but it also establishes biological corridors to connect core habitat and isolated blocks of existing wildlands.  The bill also establishes a pilot system of nine National Wildland Recovery Areas to restore vital ecosystem components damaged by roads, clear cuts, overgrazing, and mining activities.

America's Red Rock Wilderness Act - HR. 1925, S. 799

This bill was simultaneously introduced in the House and Senate on April 2nd and would designate over 9 million acres of BLM public lands as wilderness.  This includes the spectacular red rock canyonlands of the Colorado Plateau and basin as well as the range areas in the west desert.

Alpine Lakes Wilderness Expansion - HR. 1769, S. 721

This bill, introduced in both the House and Senate on March 30th, would designate certain land in the Mount-Baker Snoqualmie National Forest in the state of Washington as wilderness, becoming part of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.  The Act would also designate the Middle Fork Snoqualmie and Pratt Rivers in Washington as wild and/or scenic rivers.

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