April 9, 2008

Major Land Conservation Initiative Passes House

Diverse conservation coalition commends House action

NewsBlaze - Folsom, CA

WASHINGTON - The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation today that formally recognizes 26 million acres of wild and historic lands in the first congressionally designated conservation system in the past 40 years.

"These lands play an increasingly important role in protecting our natural and historic resources," said William H. Meadows, the president of The Wilderness Society, one of 75 conservation, historic preservation, faith-based, recreation, business and place-based friends groups supporting the bill. "We look forward to the Senate taking action on this important legislation."

The National Landscape Conservation System Act, H.R. 2016, formally recognizes and protects the best lands and waters managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The National Landscape Conservation System was administratively created in 2000 to "conserve, protect, and restore these nationally significant landscapes." But without the Congressional stamp of approval provided by this legislation, the Conservation System remained susceptible to being dissolved. The bill ensures that lands within the Conservation System remain a single system which will allow a greater communication within BLM.

The National Landscape Conservation System encompasses many historically and ecologically important areas, including 15 national monuments, 13 national conservation areas, 36 wild and scenic rivers, 148 wilderness areas, 4,264 miles of national scenic and historic trails, and more than 600 wilderness study areas.

"Many of these lands contain man's first imprints on the American landscape in the form of kivas, pueblos and rock art," said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "Because they represent our shared heritage, they richly deserve the recognition that this legislation gives them."