House Fails to Pass Massive Lands Bill That Would Have Aided National Park System
A massive lands bill, one that would have added nearly 1 million acres of national park lands to the national wilderness system, has failed to gain passage in the U.S. House of Representatives. But it could live to see another vote.
Overall the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 would, if enacted, permanently protect more than 2 million acres of America’s wilderness.
According to The Wilderness Society, this legislation would provide the greatest expansion of the National Wilderness Preservation System in 15 years, and includes 16 wilderness bills from nine states.
However, critics in the House complained that the measure contained too many unnecessary special projects. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, pointed specifically to $34 million earmarked to create a unit of the National Park System in New Jersey when existing units such as Dinosaur National Monument, whose visitor center has been condemned, struggle on a daily basis.
"Rather than fixing these types of buildings, within the bowels of this bill is a $34 million earmark to create a new national park in Patterson, New Jersey, which will protect such natural wonders as a condominium, a butterfly garden, and a microbrewery," said the Republican.
But Rep. Nick Rahall, D-West Virginia, in urging his colleagues to pass the measure, called it one of the most important conservation measures to come before the House in years.
While the bill failed to gain passage by just two votes, it could reappear later in the session.
Among the national parks that would benefit from this legislation are:
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Beaver Basin Wilderness
This legislation would designate more than 11,000 acres of wilderness within the Pictured Rocks
National Lakeshore along Lake Superior. Pictured Rocks features sandstone cliffs, lovely
beaches, waterfalls, and sand dunes all with the spectacular backdrop of Lake Superior.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness and Indian Peaks Wilderness Expansion Act
Rocky Mountain National Park provides world-class hiking and climbing, and breathtaking
views of the Rocky Mountains, while also supporting the economies of several gateway
communities. This legislation would protect nearly 250,000 acres of wilderness within the
park, finally implementing a recommendation by the National Park Service made in the
Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Wilderness Act
This bill would designate 90,000 acres of wilderness within Sequoia and Kings Canyon
national parks, and would protect the redwood Mountain Grove, which is the largest stand
of Giant Sequoia trees in the park.
Joshua Tree National Park
California Desert and Mountain Heritage Act
The legislation proposes to designate more than 190,000 acres of wilderness, including
spectacular desert landscapes in Joshua Tree National Park and the rugged slopes of the
Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains. The bill would also designate 31 miles of Wild and
Scenic River, providing new recreation opportunities for southern California
Zion National Park
Washington County Growth and Conservation Act
This legislation would designate more than 235,000 acres of wilderness in and around Zion
National Park in southern Utah. The legislation would also establish two new national
conservation areas and would create several new wild and scenic rivers. Utah’s scenic
red rock country is a land of stark beauty renowned worldwide. This bill would preserve
important elements of this iconic landscape.