Environmental Milestones: Obama Signs Wilderness Protection Bill
Ten years ago, President Barack Obama signed a wilderness protection bill that became law on March 30, 2009. The Omnibus Public Land Management Act. In tandem with this bill, the National Conservation Lands (formerly known as the National Landscape Conservation System) was also signed into law.
This law protects precious land from being developed for commercial use and to keep national, public parks and recreational areas open to the American public to share and enjoy their natural beauty.
President Obama remarked that this law is designed “to protect, preserve and pass down our nation’s most treasured landscapes to future generations.” He further emphasized that this will allow Americans to “not take our forests, rivers, oceans, national parks, monuments, and wilderness areas for granted, but rather we will set them aside and guard their sanctity for everyone to share. That’s something all Americans can support.”
Under this law, 2 million acres of land in Michigan, California, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia are set aside as protected land. Land protected includes California’s Sierra Nevada region, Oregon’s Mount Hood and Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park.
The National Conservation Lands extends protection to lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. These are federally recognized recreational areas, and there are ten federal conservation designations protected that extend outside the nine states already listed. They include:
· National Monuments
· National Conservation Areas
· Wilderness Areas
· Wilderness Study Areas
· National Wild and Scenic Rivers
· National Scenic Trails
· National Historic Trails
· Cooperative Management and Protection Areas
· Forest Reserves
· Outstanding Natural Areas
A complete list can be found here.
These areas are important in that they are integral to our culture, show the diverse and natural landscape that shapes the United States, protects wilderness and preserves history.