January 10, 2009

Senate Set to Pass Public Lands Bill

Legislation includes Seven Wyden-authored provisions to protect Oregon Wilderness and endangered species.

Washington, D.C. - Maintaining his focus on preserving rare and valuable public lands in Oregon, Chairman of the Senate Energy Committee's Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today applauded the swift introduction of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (S.22) in the 111th Congress. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) today introduced Energy Committee Chairman Senator Jeff Bingaman's (D-N.M.) national package of lands bills that had passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee prior to the end of the 110th session of Congress, but were blocked by Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).

"I regret that the Mount Hood, Copper Salmon and my other bills were not acted on last year because this new Congress has many new natural resource issues it needs to focus on, including thousands of new jobs and better management for our nation's forests," said Wyden. "I also regret that my bills were blocked last Congress because Senator Smith was my full partner in these efforts, and he deserved tremendous credit protecting some of Oregon's most special places. I feel very confident we will overcome my colleague's objections very shortly and pass this legislation on a bipartisan basis."

Oregon-specific bills wrapped into the Omnibus package include:

• The Lewis and Clark Mount Hood Wilderness Act of 2007, which protects areas around Mount Hood including almost 127,000 acres of Wilderness and adds 79 miles on nine free-flowing stretches of rivers to the National Wild and Scenic River System (http://wyden.senate.gov/newsroom/record.cfm?id=266507);
• The Copper Salmon Wilderness Act, which protects the headwaters of the North Fork of the Elk River and would add 13,700 acres of new wilderness and designate 9.3 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers (http://wyden.senate.gov/newsroom/record.cfm?id=282988);
• The Oregon Badlands Wilderness Act of 2008, which would designate as Wilderness almost 30,000 acres of the area just east of Bend known as the Badlands (http://wyden.senate.gov/newsroom/record.cfm?id=298803);
• The Cascade Siskiyou National Monument Voluntary and Equitable Grazing Conflict Resolution Act, which would establish a 23,000-acre Soda Mountain Wilderness and authorizes the permanent retirement of grazing allotments within the monument (http://wyden.senate.gov/newsroom/record.cfm?id=297382); and
• The Spring Basin Wilderness Act of 2008, which would designate approximately 8,600 acres as the Spring Basin Wilderness (http://wyden.senate.gov/newsroom/record.cfm?id=298803).

The package is likely to be voted on later in the week or in a weekend session of Senate business.