Published on March 6th, 2019 | by Kayak Session
AW NEWS: Public Lands Package Passes in the House!
Public Lands Package Passes in the House!
By Evan Stafford
On Tuesday, February 26th, the House passed a multi-faceted public lands package, with 621 miles of new Wild and Scenic designations, sending it to the Presidents desk to become law! The Natural Resource Management Act passed in the House by a vote of 363-62. It has already passed in the Senate by a vote of 92-8. We’d like to thank our lawmakers in both the House and Senate for following through on their commitment to bring this legislation to a vote early in this Congressional session, and we commend them on a job well done. We’d also like to offer a huge thank you to our community members who reached out to their representatives in support of this historic legislation. You made a big difference!
The Natural Resources Management Act (S. 47) includes, along with the miles and miles of new Wild and Scenic Rivers designations, a permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and protects nearly 2.5 million acres of public land, many of which are landscapes containing whitewater rivers. American Whitewater played a pivotal role in a number of the pieces that came together to protect so many miles of rivers in this package and we are ecstatic that this will soon become law. This bill truly demonstrates that protecting rivers and public lands is something our entire country can get behind!
Among the provisions in the bill:
– Oregon Wildlands would designate 256 miles as Wild and Scenic Rivers, including the Molalla and Elk Rivers and tributaries of the lower Rogue River.
– Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area would provide a framework for collaborative management of the headwaters of the Snoqualmie and Yakima Rivers in Washington,
– Methow Headwaters would close 340,079 acres in the Methow River watershed to new mining claims
– Wild and Scenic Designation for the 62 miles of the Lower Farmington and Salmon Brook in Connecticut would protect the popular Tariffville Gorge section of the Farmington River
– Emery County Public Land Management Act would include Wild and Scenic Designation for 63 miles of the Green River (including Labyrinth Canyon) in Utah, a Recreation Area (389,731 acres), and new Wilderness (661,445 acres) for Emery County including land around the San Rafael River and Muddy Creek
– Wild and Scenic designation for 110 miles of rivers in the Wood-Pawcatuck watershed (RI/CT)
– Wild and Scenic designation for 52.8 miles of the the Nashua River and tributaries (NH/MA)
– Wild and Scenic designation for 77.2 miles of rivers as part of the California Desert Protection Act (CA)
– Reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, an important program that has supported public access to rivers since the 1960’s but was recently allowed to expire
This package of public lands bills has enjoyed incredibly broad public support, allowing committee members to feel comfortable bringing this to the floor of the Senate, as well as the House, as one of the first actions of a new Congress. The package still needed a strong showing of public outreach to push it across the finish line, and our community responded, letting Congress know how important wild rivers are in our lives.
You can thank your members of Congress for passing this historic legislation using American Whitewater’s super easy form (http://bit.ly/AWPublicLandsBillThanks19).