Congress Returns to Session and Acts on Wilderness
Author: teddygirl | Tuesday November 06, 2007
The following is from the Campaign for America's Wilderness, an organization that is working to achieve lasting protection for threatened wild lands.
September saw a flurry of congressional action on wilderness legislation. On September 20, the Senate Public Lands and Forests Subcommittee held a hearing on the Copper-Salmon Wilderness Act (S. 2034/H.R. 3513), which was introduced just two weeks earlier. The measures, to designate as wilderness the Copper Salmon region of Southern Oregon, was introduced by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR). Sen. Gordon Smith (R-OR) joined on as a cosponsor at the hearing. The conservation bill would protect 13,700 acres of pristine old-growth forest surrounding the headwaters of the Elk River in the Siskiyou National Forest, a largely intact ancient forest.
Greatly valued by hunters and anglers, Copper-Salmon is also home to black-tailed deer, black bear, elk, and mountain lions. In fact, sportsmen have led the effort to protect this area for more than a decade. The permanent protection of Copper-Salmon as wilderness will provide a boost to the local economy through increased tourism and outdoor recreation, and help guard against logging and development that could harm the health of the Elk River. To learn more about Copper-Salmon visit sportsmenforcoppersalmon.org.
Also happening on the west coast, Congresswoman Mary Bono (R-CA) and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) announced the introduction of the California Desert and Mountain Heritage Act, which would designate 191,000 acres throughout Riverside County as wilderness, as well as designate 31 miles of the North Fork San Jacinto River, Bautista Creek, and Palm Canyon as wild and scenic rivers.
This legislation would protect some of our most ecologically important and well-known public lands and waters within southern California, including places like the Agua Tibia, Joshua Tree, and the South Fork San Jacinto wilderness areas. Congresswoman Bono and Senator Boxer have reached out to a diverse group of stakeholders in Riverside County to build a strong coalition in support of their initiative. They have also added to their proposals important desert areas that are also deserving of protection. Riverside County stretches 210 miles across southern California, from the outskirts of Los Angeles to the Colorado River border with Arizona.
On the east coast, the House Agriculture Committee had a hearing on the Virginia Ridge and Valley Wilderness and National Scenic Area legislation (S. 570/H.R. 1011), introduced by Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Sens. Jim Webb (D) and John Warner (R-VA). The measure would designate 55,000 acres in the Jefferson National Forest as wilderness, wilderness study, or national scenic areas. Although voted out of the House Natural Resources Committee in June, the legislation was referred to the Agriculture Committee, as well.
The Virginia bill encompasses parts of the Appalachian Trail, which offers breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge range, covered by old growth trees and incised by clear mountain streams. Tourism is important to the economy of this region, and this legislation enjoys strong local support. The protections in the measure will ensure the area remains pristine and draws anglers, hunters, and lovers of the outdoors for generations to come.
For more information, visit Campaign for America's Wilderness' website.