Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Banner Day for Wilderness Protection

I subscribe to an e-mail newsletter for the Tucson chapter of the Arizona Native Plant Society, and I have the editor, Nancy Zierenberg, to thank for informing me of today’s passage of “monumental” wilderness legislation by the U.S. Congress in Washington, DC. It is expected that President Obama will ratify the measure without qualification.

Known as the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, this represents the greatest expansion of wilderness lands in over a decade. More than two million acres will be permanently protected in nine states, from coast to coast.

But wait, there’s more! The act also includes the National Landscape Conservation System, which, through the Bureau of Land Management, will administer 1.2 million additional acres of watersheds and forests in the Bridger-Teton National Forest of western Wyoming. Now how much would you pay (in tax dollars)?!

The legislation is not without its flaws (a portion of wilderness in Alaska was removed from protection to allow for the construction of a road), but all in all this is a significant milestone.

I will have more to say about wilderness and land conservation in future blogs, but in the meantime, you can learn more about this historic bill from the Wilderness Society blog.

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