House passes bill to protect more than one million acres of wilderness

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that would add more than a million acres of land to the National Wilderness Preservation System. The Protecting America’s Wilderness Act would extend preservation to public land in California, Colorado, and Washington.

The bill would designate more wilderness than any other bill passed by the House in more than a decade. “We have been working on this legislation for more than 20 years,” Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., and the bill’s sponsor, said. “The areas that will be protected under this bill are some of the most beautiful and pristine landscapes that our country has to offer.”

Among the public lands that would be added to the nation’s inventory of designated wilderness are:

  • 660,000 acres in 36 areas across Colorado, including  the Handies Peak, Dolores River Canyon, Little Book Cliffs, Diamond Breaks, Papoose Canyon, North Ponderosa Gorge, and South Ponderosa Gorge areas;
  • 312,500 acres in Northwest California, by means of expanding nine existing wilderness areas and creating eight new ones;
  • 30,700 acres of newly-designated wilderness in Southern California; and
  • 126,544 acres of newly-designated wilderness on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula.

H.R. 2546 would also add nearly 1,300 river miles in the three states to the National Wild and Scenic River System.

The bill was approved on a 231-183 vote. It is not expected to receive consideration in the Republican-controlled Senate this year.

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