SEMA eNews Vol. 22, No. 47, November 21, 2019

U.S. House Committee Passes Legislation to Expand Wilderness Designations

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee passed legislation that would create and expand wilderness designations in California, Colorado and Washington state. Wilderness designations provide the highest level of permanent protection available and prevent the creation of roads and trails. Listed below are the wilderness and national recreation area bills passed by the committee, which are now eligible for consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives:

  • HR 2546, the “Colorado Wilderness Act of 2019” – Rep. Diana DeGette’s (D-CO) bill would designate 33 areas in Colorado as wilderness totaling 740,000 acres, which have been managed as wilderness for decades. Most of the areas that the bill seeks to protect are mid-elevation ecosystems that are used for outdoor recreational activities and serve as critical habitats for a variety of plants and wildlife.
  • HR 2250, the “Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act” – Rep. Jared Huffman’s (D-CA) bill would authorize eight new wilderness areas and expand nine others, protecting a total of 260,000 acres of federal public land.
  • HR 2215, the "San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act" – Rep. Judy Chu's (D-CA) bill would establish a 51,000-acre San Gabriel National Recreation Area as a unit with the national park system and create four wilderness designations totaling over 30,000 acres. The bill states that the visitor services plan for the recreation area must consider the demand for various types of recreation, including motorized and mechanized vehicles, as permissible and appropriate.
  • HR 2199, the "Central Coast Heritage Protection Act" – Rep. Salud Carbajal’s (D-CA) bill would add to or develop at least 17 smaller wilderness sites, building a new 400-mile-long trail to connect Los Angeles and Monterey counties.
  • HR 1708 from Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) would adjust the boundary of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area to include the Rim of the Valley Corridor, adding more than 191,000 acres to the Recreation Area. The bill provides Dept. of Interior with three years after the bill becomes law to update the general management plan for the recreation area to reflect the boundaries. 

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

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