Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Anniversary of White House Signing of Wilderness Bill

AAEA President Norris McDonald attended the signing of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 at the White House a year ago today. The bill signing ceremony was held in the East Room and President Obama gave a speech before sitting down to sign the bill. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar spoke before the bill signing too. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also attended the signing. Council on Environmental Quality Chairwoman Nancy Sutley and NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco were also in attendance.

The House approved the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (H.R.146) on a vote of 285 to 140 on March 25, 2009 that includes the largest expansion of the wilderness system in 15 years -- 2 million acres in nine states -- and launched one of the most ambitious river restoration efforts in the West. The bill passed in the Senate on March 19, on a vote of 77-20. (The White House)

The bill was a massive omnibus, incorporating 164 different pieces of legislation. Major Highlights include:- Protecting treasured places like: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan, Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia, Oregon’s Mount Hood, Idaho’s Omyhee Canyons, the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, Zion National Park in Utah, as well as lands in Virginia and New Mexico;- Designating more than 2 million acres of federal lands as wilderness;- Creating the 26 million acre National Landscape Conservation System within the Dept. of Interior;- Protecting more than 1000 miles of rivers by adding them to the National Wild and Scenic System;- Designating thousands of miles of trails for the National Trails System and creating several new National Conservation Areas. (More)

Photos: President Obama in background in upper photo and Norris McDonald with former Maryland State Senator Gloria Lawlah (now Maryland Secretary of Aging) in lower photo.

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