Senate Democrats

Reid Statement on Passage of Most Important Wilderness Protection Bill in Decades

Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today after the U.S. Senate passed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009:

“This bipartisan bill will protect and improve America by land and by sea.  As one of the most important conservation efforts in decades, it will benefit all 50 states – from public lands throughout America, the waterways that connect them and out to our oceans.

“This package was crafted by Democrats and Republicans working together so that all Americans can enjoy more than 2 million acres of wilderness, more than 1,000 miles of wild and scenic rivers, thousands of miles of new national trails, and three new units of the National Park Service.

“I urge the House to pass this legislation as soon as possible so that the President can sign it into law.”

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WILDERNESS PROTECTION BILL HAS BROAD SUPPORT

Fishing Advocates Trout Unlimited Urged Support for the Public Lands Bill, Saying it Would Safeguard the Nation’s Best Places to Hunt and Fish “On behalf of the 140,000 members of Trout Unlimited nationwide, we write to express our strong support for the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2008 (Omnibus Bill). Our members stand shoulder to shoulder with thousands of other hunters and anglers throughout the country who also support the bill. If passed, the measure would safeguard some of the nation’s best fish and wildlife habitat and places to hunt and fish. We urge you to support the bill when it comes to the Senate floor in the days ahead.” [Trout Unlimited Letter, 1/9/09]

American Hiking Society Praised Lands Bill for Giving the Landscape Conservation System Permanent Congressional Recognition. “On behalf of American Hiking Society and the 76 million Americans who hike every year, the undersigned organizations thank you for your leadership for trails and urge you to co-sponsor the National Landscape Conservation System Act, simple legislation that will give permanent Congressional recognition to the Bureau of Land Management’s National Landscape Conservation System, an important system of public lands that includes thirteen National Scenic and Historic Trails.” [American Hiking Society Letter, 11/1/08]

Outdoor Industry Advocates Said the Omnibus Lands Bill Would Be a Benefit for Their Growing Industry. “On behalf of the 160 members of the Outdoor Industry Conservation Alliance, we thank you for your longstanding commitment to land and water conservation. We represent outdoor gear and clothing manufacturers, retailers, and related vendors based throughout the United States… Ours is an industry that depends heavily on protected public lands and waterways as places where our customers use the products we make and sell. The customers of our growing $33 billion industry recreate in the wildest of lands and rivers, and we provide them with the high quality equipment they need to do so. The Omnibus Public Lands Act is a bipartisan package of bills that would protect two million acres of Wilderness and 1000 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers, and prohibit new oil and gas development on 1.2 million acres of public land in Wyoming… This package represents a rare conservation opportunity, and one that would benefit our growing industry.” [Outdoor Industry Conservation Alliance Letter, 10/30/08]

Sierra Club Praised the Omnibus Public Land Management, Called It the Greatest Expansion of Wilderness in 15 Years. “The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 protects more than two million acres of wilderness in eight states, including the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, Oregon’s Mt. Hood, and Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. ‘This would be the greatest expansion of America’s wilderness system in 15 years,’ said Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope. ‘This is our chance to protect the best of what’s left and pass on a legacy to future generations.’ The bill codifies the 26-million-acre National Landscape Conservation System, protects hundreds of miles of free-flowing rivers in six states, and designates numerous new National Scenic Trails, Natural Historic Sites, and, National Heritage Areas across the United States. It also protects over a million acres of key hunting and fishing grounds on the Wyoming Range from oil and gas drilling. ‘Wilderness, rivers, trails and parks support important tourist economies across the country,’ said Pope. ‘If we hope to keep the tourist dollars and jobs that outdoor recreation generates, we need to keep these places safe from unchecked industrial development.’” [Sierra Club Press Release, 1/12/09

The National Wildlife Federation Urged Passage of the Omnibus Public Land Management. “On behalf of the National Wildlife Federation’s (NWF) four million members and supporters, we urge you to support the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, S. 22. Over 160 bills considered by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee during the 110th Congress are contained in S. 22. These measures include many important provisions for America’s public lands and waters which provide crucial habitat for game birds, deer, and elk in addition to healthy watersheds and streams… The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 will conserve critical public lands and waters which provide important wildlife habitat and resources in addition to recreational opportunities that drive local economies. Please vote yes on S. 22 to protect America’s public lands heritage.” [National Wildlife Federation Letter, 1/9/09]

The Campaign for America’s Wilderness Urged Passage of the Omnibus Public Lands Bill. “This sweeping measure includes many important provisions for protecting a lasting legacy of public lands for future generations, the Campaign for America’s Wilderness urges you to bring the omnibus lands package to the floor for approval by the Senate yet this year as well… The wilderness designations in this package will protect key public lands and wildlife habitat, sustain a legacy of natural places and recreational opportunities, drive local economies, and enhance the quality of life for all Americans.” [Campaign for America’s Wilderness Letter to Senator Reid, 11/13/08]

The Marine Conservation Biology Institute Expressed Enthusiasm for the Omnibus Lands Bill, Particularly the Ocean Programs. “I am writing to express our enthusiasm regarding the introduction of S. 22, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act. Marine Conservation Biology Institute was especially pleased to see ocean programs included in this bill in Title XII and we strongly support this title. As oceans are in dire need of attention, protection and conservation, we are especially eager to see the five marine and aquatic bills move forward. We believe these five bills in particular are an important step in the federal quest for conserving ocean ecosystems while ensuring sustainable economic activity.” [Marine Conservation Biology Institute Letter, 1/9/09]

Environmental Advocates Urged Support for the Omnibus Public Lands Bill, Citing the Bill’s Protections for Oceans, Great Lakes and Coasts. In a letter to Senate leaders, leaders of the Blue Frontier Campaign, Nature Conservancy, EarthEcho International, Marine Conservation Biology Institute, Ocean Champions, Ocean Conservancy, National Resources Defense Council and Pew Environment Group wrote,“On behalf of our millions of members we are writing to urge you to support S. 22, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act. In Particular, we applaud the inclusion of Title XII, which will benefit our oceans, Great Lakes and coasts while offering an economic dividend to the nation.” [Letter from Environmental Groups to Senators Reid and McConnell, 1/9/09]

Faith Groups Advocated for Giving the Landscape Conservation System Permanent Congressional Recognition. In a letter to Senators faith groups including the United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries; Brethren Witness/Washington office; Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life; Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office; Presbyterian Church (USA) Washington Office; National Council of Churches of Christ, USA; Union for Reform Judaism; Disciples Home Missions of the Christian Church; Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society; Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Justice Peace/Integrity of Creation Office; National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd; Arizona Ecumenical Council Earth Care Commission wrote, “Currently, NLCS has no Congressional recognition like the National Parks and Wildlife Refuges do. This means that each unit in the System stands alone, leaving individual units — and the System as a whole — vulnerable to being dissolved, under-funded and mismanaged. We call on you to codify the National Landscape Conservation System through S 1139. NLCS has been administratively supported by the most recent Presidential administrations of both parties, but has not yet received a formal congressional authorization. The bill will provide overdue congressional recognition for NLCS, which contains some of America’s most stunning lands and waters… We, as people of faith, call upon Congress to establish this kind of recognition, giving permanent protection to this vital part of God’s miraculous creation.” [Letter from Faith Groups, 1/4/08]

Leaders of 45 Environmental Groups Called for Giving the Landscape Conservation System Permanent Congressional Recognition. In a letter to Senators, leaders of 45 environmental organizations including American Rivers, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Environmental Defense, National Wildlife Federation, National Trust for Historic Preservation and Republicans for Environmental Protection wrote, “On behalf of our 45 national and regional organizations and our many members, we write in support of The National Landscape Conservation System Act, S. 1139… The National Landscape Conservation System is a network of some of the last places where visitors can experience the history and wild beauty of the American West. Although the most recent Democratic and Republican administrations have both supported the System administratively, it lacks statutory recognition—keeping the great recreational, natural and scientific resources of the Conservation System hidden from many Americans who stand to benefit from them. By enacting codifying legislation, Congress will ensure the System’s permanence and an enduring legacy of the West’s natural and cultural heritage for future generations. In conclusion, enactment of S. 1139 will permanently establish perhaps the last great American system of protected lands, and we hope the Committee will favorably report this important piece of public lands legislation.” [Letter from Leaders of Environmental Organizations, 5/3/07]

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