Law & Order

U.S. House of Representatives Passes Bill to Expand Wilderness and Protect Lands in Arizona, California, Colorado and Washington

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By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would permanently protect more than one million acres in Colorado, 821,000 acres in California, 132,000 in Washington and more than one million acres in Arizona. The “Protecting America's Wilderness and Public Lands Act,” H.R. 803, will now advance to the U.S. Senate, although it is likely to be blocked given strong Republican opposition to the bill. The SEMA-opposed legislation is controversial because wilderness designations provide the highest level of permanent protection available, preventing the creation of roads and trails in addition to prohibiting logging, mining and drilling. Listed below are key bills that were included in H.R. 803:

  • The Colorado Wilderness Act protects more than 36 wilderness areas totaling 660,000 acres across Colorado to protect mid- and lower-elevation mountainous areas that are used for outdoor recreational activities and serve as critical habitats for a variety of plants and wildlife. More than two-thirds of the areas to be protected are already being treated as wilderness areas, including the Handies Peak, Dolores River Canyon and Little Bookcliffs.
  • The CORE Act, H.R. 577, would protect 400,000 acres in Colorado as wilderness and special recreation and conservation areas.  
  • The Grand Canyon Protection Act, H.R. 1052, would permanently withdraw more than 1 million acres of federal land north and south of Grand Canyon National Park from eligibility for any future mining claims leaves valid existing claims intact.
  • The Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act, H.R. 878, would protect 306,500 acres in Northwest California by expanding nine existing wilderness areas and establishing eight new wilderness areas.
  • The Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, H.R. 878, protects 287,500 acres in Central California. It would create two new potential wilderness areas and two new scenic areas in the Los Padres National Forest and the Carrizo Plain National Monument. The bill would also create a 400-mile hiking trail to connect the wilderness areas in the southern and northern portions of the Los Padres National Forest.
  • The San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act, H.R. 693, protects 139,700 acres in Southern California. The bill would expand the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, establish a new National Recreation Area, and designate approximately 30,659 acres as wilderness.
  • The Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act, H.R. 1075, would expand the existing Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in Southern California by adding 191,000 acres of the Rim of the Valley Corridor.
  • The Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, H.R. 999, protects 131,900 acres in Washington State. It would designate 126,544 acres on the Olympic Peninsula as wilderness in addition to 5,346 as potential wilderness (this would be the first new wilderness designation in Olympic National Forest in nearly 30 years).

For more information, contact Eric Snyder at erics@sema.org.