Teddy Bear News

March 2009 Congressional Update on Wilderness Bills
Author: teddygirl | Thursday April 23, 2009

The following is from Campaign for Americas Wilderness, an organization that is working to achieve lasting protection for threatened wild lands.

The week of February 23rd saw many of our national wilderness leaders from around the country fanning out across Capitol Hill to urge Members of the House to support the Omnibus Public Land Management Act (S. 22). In town for the biennial Wilderness Leaders Week, these representatives from numerous national, regional, state, and local wilderness organizations worked tirelessly to encourage the House of Representatives to bring up and pass the omnibus lands bill soon.

Last month, we brought you up-to-date on the status of the omnibus lands package, after its passage by the Senate (73-21) on January 15th. At that time, we had hoped the House would quickly consider this important, landmark legislation. Due to the pressing need for Congress to address the President’s economic stimulus package, consideration of S. 22 was delayed. Currently, House Leadership is discussing timing and how best to proceed with the consideration of the omnibus bill — under Suspension of the Rules (which requires a 2/3 majority vote for approval, but precludes any amendments), or under a Rule (which requires a simple majority, but does not necessarily protect the bill from being amended through a Motion to Recommit). We believe these decisions will be made shortly, and hope the legislation will be considered within the next couple of weeks.

S. 22 is a large package of more than 150 bipartisan, broadly supported bills, including 16 measures to protect wilderness across nine states. Many of the provisions have been developed over years of extensive collaboration at federal, state, county, and local levels, in conjunction with elected officials, businesses, community leaders, outdoor enthusiasts, and other stakeholders. Some have been waiting for Floor consideration for almost two years.

With the Senate’s strong support, we’ve entered the last stages in securing permanent protection for two million acres of federal land, which, when enacted, will mark the single largest addition to the National Wilderness Preservation System in fifteen years.

View the wilderness provisions in more detail.

In addition to the wilderness initiatives, the package would:

* Establish three new units of the National Park System, a new National Monument, and four new National Conservation Areas
* Codify the Save America’s Treasures and Preserve America historic preservation programs
* Designate over 1,000 miles of new additions to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System
* Designates four new national scenic or national historic trails, enlarges the boundaries of several existing units of the National Park System
* Establish 10 new national heritage areas
* Formally establish the National Landscape Conservation System
* Through a number of separate bills, help address critical water resource needs on both the local and national level
* Ratify three extremely important water settlements in the States of California, Nevada, and New Mexico

While Senate passage of S. 22 sets a great tone for the new Congress, the package still needs to clear the House. We are hopeful this will happen very soon.

For more information, visit Campaign for Americas Wilderness website.

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