October 2008 Congressional Update on wilderness bills
Author: teddygirl | Saturday November 08, 2008
The following is from Campaign for Americas Wilderness, an organization that is working to achieve lasting protection for threatened wild lands.
By Friday, October 3, both the House and Senate had adjourned, following a tumultuous and dramatic two weeks of wrangling over congressional legislation and an Administration plan to ameliorate Wall Street's monetary woes. After several false starts and a falling stock market and credit crunch, the legislation negotiated by Congress passed and was signed into law on October 3, with the hope it will stem the erosion of confidence in our economy at home and abroad.
Once the bailout issue was addressed, and both bodies of Congress had passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) — legislation to fund government programs at current levels through March 2009 — in lieu of passing individual appropriations bills, members of the House and Senate returned to their home states to begin campaigning in earnest.
This shift of priorities at the end of the congressional session meant that many bills slated for consideration by the full Senate were bumped from the schedule. Such was the case with the package of public lands bills previously approved by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Both House and Senate adjourned "subject to the call of the chair," meaning that further meetings are possible after the election. Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that it was his intention to reconvene the Senate during the week of November 17th to take up Senator Bingaman's Omnibus Lands bill, now reintroduced as a Senate amendment to HR 5151 and now incorporating additional bills, including 8 more wilderness bills, approved by the Committee in September. The House, on the other hand, gave no indication it intended to return after the election. To enact the lands package, it would be necessary for it to pass both chambers and both would have to convene post election.
The 15 wilderness bills approved by the Senate ENR Committee (many of them approved by the House Natural Resources Committee as well) would protect special wild places to benefit local economies, enhance the quality of life for people living in nearby communities, safeguard clean air and watersheds, and provide for hunting, fishing, camping, canoeing, and other popular activities.
A list of the approved wilderness bills follows:
Copper Salmon Wilderness Act (OR)
Wild Monongahela Act (WV)
Virginia Ridge and Valley Wilderness and National Scenic Area Act (VA)
Owyhee Public Lands Management Act of 2008 (ID)
Lewis and Clark Mount Hood Wilderness Act (OR)
Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness and Indian Peaks Wilderness Expansion Act (CO)
Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Voluntary and Equitable Grazing Conflict Resolution Act (OR)
Beaver Basin Wilderness Act (MI)
Sabinoso Wilderness Act (NM)
Oregon Badlands Wilderness Act of 2008 (OR)
Spring Basin Wilderness Act of 2008 (OR)
Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area and Dominguez Canyon Wilderness Area Act (CO)
Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Wild Heritage Act (CA)
California Desert and Mountain Heritage Act of 2007 (CA)
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Wilderness Act of 2008 (CA)
For more information, visit Campaign for Americas Wilderness website.