Wild Zones

Congress Gets Going on Wilderness Conservation

This year has seen big wins in preserving America’s wilderness heritage. The first new National Land Conservation System in a generation now unites more than 26 million acres in permanent protection and restoration status. Areas encompass more than 850 of the most scenic, ecologically and historically significant lands under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management. These include national monuments, conservation and wilderness areas, wild and scenic rivers and scenic and historic trails.

Also, another two million acres of wilderness across nine states have been added to public lands permanently protected in the National Wilderness Preservation System, bringing the total to about 110 million acres. That’s five percent of the country. The additional acreage approved by Congress and President Obama is in California, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Oregon. The victory will help restore and maintain the healthy, resilient landscapes essential to helping ecosystems and the species that depend on them adapt to climate change.

Grassroots voices contributed to another victory, this one for Arctic wildlife. Earlier this year, a federal court vacated the Department of the Interior’s five-year plan for oil and gas leasing in Arctic waters off Alaska’s coast.

Source: The Wilderness Society, www.Wilderness.org

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