Congress Passes Historic Plan to Protect America's Public Lands

America's hunters and anglers have been pushing hard for this legislation, which will conserve the resources and recreation opportunities that drive local economies

03-25-2009 // Aileo Weinmann

National Wildlife Federation, Northwest Steelheaders, and Wyoming Wildlife Federation welcomes passage of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, and congratulates the many lawmakers who worked so hard to pass bipartisan legislation vital to protecting America's sporting heritage.

"America's hunters and anglers have been pushing hard for this legislation," said Steve Torbit, Regional Executive Director, National Wildlife Federation Rocky Mountain Resource Center. "The loud calls from America's rank-and-file sportsmen to protect America's public lands made a big difference in getting it through Congress.

"This package of bills includes many important provisions for America's public lands and waters, which provide crucial habitat for game birds, deer, and elk and provide healthy watersheds and streams," Torbit added. "The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 will conserve critical public lands and waters, which provide important wildlife habitat and provide resources and recreation opportunities that drive local economies."

Public lands are a fundamental part of America's outdoor recreation industry that contributes $730 billion to our economy and supports 6.5 million jobs--or 1 in 20 American jobs. The National Landscape Conservation System, for example, holds more than 25 million acres of some of America's best public lands, and an impressive number of excellent new wilderness-area designations.

"Four generations of my family consider the Wyoming Range to be their home place," said Walt Gasson, Executive Director, Wyoming Wildlife Federation. "Speaking for them, and for thousands of other Wyoming families who feel the same way, I am grateful. When my grandchildren can take their own grandchildren to hunt and fish in the Wyoming Range, they will look back on this day as the day that made it all possible." The Wyoming Range Legacy Act maintains the integrity of about 1.2 million acres of incredible big game and cold water fisheries habitat.

"Northwest Steelheaders are grateful to all our legislators for their support of the wilderness protections in the Pacific Northwest," said Norm Ritchie, Association of Northwest Steelheaders. "Provisions such as the Copper Salmon River Wilderness Act will protect some of the best coastal steelhead and salmon rivers in the region and fortify a trophy fishery that is vital to our local economy and recreational values." The Copper River Wilderness Act will protect 13,700 acres of headwater habitat along the Elk River, one of the best coastal steelhead and salmon rivers in the Northwest. Protecting the headwaters of the Elk River is vital to the community of Port Orford, Oregon that attracts anglers from across the region. Anglers led the way for developing this provision because of the importance of preserving this area as a viable fishing destination in Oregon;

In particular, other provisions supported by the National Wildlife Federation include:
Wild Monongahela Wilderness; Virginia Ridge and Valley Wilderness; Mount Hood Wilderness; Sabinoso Wilderness; Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Wilderness; Riverside County Wilderness; Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Wilderness; Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness; Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area; Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve boundary adjustment; and Everglades National Park Addition.

Most of the more than 160 individual bills included in the Omnibus Public Land Management Act have been through the normal legislative process and enjoy broad bipartisan support in Congress.

National Wildlife Federation is America's conservation organization inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children's future.

Contact: Aileo Weinmann, communications manager, 202-797-6801, weinmanna@nwf.org

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