About an hour ago, President Barack Obama signed the Omnibus Public Lands Bill into law, creating 2 million new acres of wilderness across the United States, including 500,000 acres in the Owyhee Canyonlands. [Map .pdf]
Ranchers and fishermen, small business owners, environmentalists, conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats on the local, state and federal levels -- all united around the idea that there should be places that we must preserve; all doing the hard work of seeking common ground to protect the parks and other places that we cherish.Also invited to the signing: Sen. Mike Crapo who championed the bill through Congress, Fred Grant, chairman of the Owyhee Initiative Work Group and Rick Johnson, executive director of the Idaho Conservation League (who snapped the photo above for citydesk with his handy iphone).
The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 failed a house vote today, killing more than 2 million acres of wilderness in nine states, including the Owyhee Canyonlands in Idaho.
Mr Speaker I rise today in support of the Public Lands Management Act.
Teddy Roosevelt once spoke of his fondness for the out of doors when he said, "there are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm."
This legislation contains a protection for a number of America’s public lands and in particular, for a treasured place back in my home of Idaho called the Owyhee Canyonlands.
Last summer, I had the privilege of spending a week floating the river which created the area this bill will protect. We saw redband trout in the pristine rapids, camped along the lush river banks, climbed up the rocky canyon walls to see bighorn sheep, and stood at the top looking at a rich desert plateau of sage grouse, antelope and bald eagles.
If passed, this bill will permanently protect as wilderness 517,000 beautiful acres in the southwestern corner of my home state’s landscape and would provide wild and scenic status to nearly 315 miles of rivers. It will also guarantee that the ranching families who have protected this land for generations will continue on, with their grazing rights protected.
None of that would be possible without the hard work of my friend and colleague in the Senate, Mike Crapo, who fostered a collaborative process of ranchers, public officials, community leaders and conservationists to preserve our cherished Owyhees.
Many of these provisions in this bill have been waiting on Congressional action for years and are supported by Members from across the political spectrum. I urge you to join us today in supporting this historic legislation.