Next Challenge for Congress: Pass the Wilderness Stimulus Bill

Urge the House to pass the Omnibus Public Land Management Act

Now that President Barack Obama has signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law, the U.S. Congress is turning its attention to other pressing matters.

When the Congress convenes on Feb. 23 a top priority for the House of Representatives is taking up the matter of S. 22, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. That sweeping package of wilderness-protection bills enjoys strong bi-partisan support. It was passed overwhelmingly (73 yea, 21 nay) by the Senate on Jan. 15 and now awaits House action.

The bill would protect lands in 32 states, designating 2,000,000 acres as wilderness areas in nine states including California and stepping up forest-restoration efforts.

In California alone, the bill would protect more than 750,000 acres of wilderness and 105 miles of wild and scenic rivers.

It’s vital that the House votes to approve the measure without amendments that would send the legislation back to the Senate for negotiations, which could drag on for months.



Make a call: Dial your Representative at (202) 224-3121 (the Capitol Hill switchboard will direct you) and let him or her know you urge passage of this legislation – without amendments! Amendments would send the bill back to the Senate for further negotiations that could take months.

Write a letter [sample below]:

Subject: Omnibus Public Land Management Act

Dear Senator or Representative _______________:

I urge you to support the Omnibus Public Land Management Act (S. 22), an historic opportunity to protect important and spectacular California natural areas.

The California bills contained in the omnibus package will permanently protect vital forests and watersheds, including the headwaters of the Upper Owens River in the Eastern Sierra and Piru Creek in the Angeles National Forest.

The California wilderness and wild river bills in the package are broadly supported in forest communities because they improve local economies and quality of life.

Please support the measure and oppose any amendments. This is a rare, important moment for America's public lands and your support will benefit future generations.


[Your signature]



California landmarks that could be protected under the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 include 115,000 acres within Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park; 200,000 acres in Riverside County, including additions to Joshua Tree National Park and the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa Mountains National Monument; and more than 500,000 acres in Inyo, Mono, and northern Los Angeles counties, including additions to the Hoover Wilderness in the Sierra Nevada, and protection for the White Mountains, America’s highest desert mountain range.

The Act also would establish the 26-million-acre National Landscape Conservation System which will help to protect the crown jewels of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) holdings, including more than 800 individual units: 15 National Monuments, 13 National Conservation Areas, the Headwaters Forest Reserve in northern California, 38 Wild and Scenic Rivers, 183 Wilderness Areas, and more than 5,100 miles of National Scenic and Historic Trails.

California lands in the package include:

* HOOVER WILDERNESS ADDITIONS (some 79,820 acres in the Humboldt-Toiyabe and Inyo National Forests, identified as “Hoover East Wilderness Addition,” “Hoover West Wilderness Addition,” and “Bighorn Proposed Wilderness Addition.”

* JOHN MUIR WILDERNESS ADDITIONS (some 70,411 acres in the Inyo National Forest as well as BLM lands in Inyo County);

* ANSEL ADAMS WILDERNESS ADDITION (some 528 acres in the Inyo National Forest);

* WHITE MOUNTAINS WILDERNESS (about 230,000 acres in the Inyo National Forest as well as BLM land in Mono County);

* GRANITE MOUNTAIN WILDERNESS (some 34,342 acres in the Inyo National Forest as well as BLM lands in Mono County).

* MAGIC MOUNTAIN WILDERNESS (some 12, 282 acres in the Angeles National Forest);

* PLEASANT VIEW RIDGE WILDERNESS (nearly 27,000 acres in the Angeles National Forest).
This bill will benefit rural communities by protecting the wild landscapes that attract recreation, visitor spending, and business investment.

California legislators supporting the legislation include Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Greenbrae) and Diane Feinstein (D-San Francisco), and Reps. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Santa Clarita), Mary Bono Mack (R-Palm Springs), Jim Costa (D-Fresno) , George Radanovich (R-Mariposa), Duncan Hunter (R-Lakeside), Darrel Issa (R-Vista), Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena), Gary Miller (R-Diamond Bar), Ken Calvert (R-Riverside), Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara), and David Dreier (R- La Verne).



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Forests Forever is being distributed by the University of Chicago Press and is available in softcover ($33.50 including shipping) and hardcover ($55.50 including shipping). Orders can be placed online at the Forests Forever website:


Forests Forever:
Their Ecology, Restoration, and Protection
John J. Berger

from Forests Forever Foundation
and the Center for American Places