Congress Pushes Big Public Lands Package to 2009


Congress will not vote this year on a package of legislation that includes more than 15 provisions to protect Wilderness and wild rivers on public lands in the US. Conservation Alliance grantees worked hard to build public support to protect places including Mount Hood in Oregon, Idaho's Owyhee Canyonlands, California's White Mountains, and rivers in the Snake Headwaters of Wyoming. Those campaigns eventually took legislative form, and are now included in the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2008, which might have passed during the current "lame duck" session of Congress. Unfortunately, Congressional leaders decided to focus their limited time on the economic crisis, and not schedule a vote on the lands package.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claims that the Senate will consider the package in January 2009, and we have reason to be hopeful it will pass the entire Congress and be signed into law before Spring.

If it passes in its current form, the bill would protect two million acres of wilderness, 1000 miles of rivers, and prohibit new oil and gas development on 1.2 million acres in the Wyoming Range. We look forward to keeping everyone posted on this historic initiative as it moves in 2009.