Wilderness BillAwaits Final Passage in the House of Representatives
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by Mike Costello, WV Wilderness Coalition |
Please help us pass a Wilderness Bill in the 111th Congress!
A package of sweeping legislation to protect federal public lands across the U.S. has landed back in the House of Representatives for an upcoming vote and could be enacted very soon. Included in the package is West Virginia’s first wilderness legislation in over 25 years, a measure to protect six areas on the Monongahela National Forest as Wilderness.
In January, when the 111th Congress arrived in Washington, the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act quickly passed the Senate, and returned to the House for final approval. Recent attention to the nation’s economic crisis has taken priority on Capitol Hill, necessitating a delay for action on other issues. The finalization of economic stimulus negotiations clears the way for the House to act on the public lands package and other items of business.
Last year, the Wild Monongahela Act passed the House of Representatives by the overwhelming margin of 368-17. It was later packaged with numerous other public lands bills in order to move expeditiously through the Senate, but the legislation failed to achieve final passage in 2008.
The Omnibus aims to protect special areas in nine states, adding around 2 million acres to the National Wilderness Preservation system. The Wild Mon Act would expand the existing Dolly Sods, Cranberry and Otter Creek Wilderness areas. The measure would also establish three newly protected areas in Big Draft, Spice Run and Roaring Plains West.
When considered by the House, it is extremely important that the measure passes without amendment, in order to avoid a return to the Senate, where public lands legislation could be very low on lawmakers’ lists of priorities, having already passed the Omnibus once this year.
Like the Wild Mon Act, the bills in this package are broadly backed and are the result of persistent efforts to build consensus locally, among diverse stakeholders and constituencies.
hile the West Virginia Delegation’s support for Wild Mon has remained strong, it is vital that our Representatives work with their colleagues to pass this historic legislation without amendment, so that it soon reaches the finish line and gives the Mon’s special places the protection they deserve.
Please consider placing a quick call to your Representative to thank them for sponsoring the Wild Monongahela Act. Ask that they work with fellow members of Congress to encourage passage of Wild Mon and the other bills in the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act without amendment.
1st District - The Honorable Alan Mollohan: (202) 225-4172
2nd District - The Honorable Shelley Moore Capito: (202) 225-2711
3rd District - The Honorable Nick J. Rahall II: (202) 225-3452