House OKs Major Land Conservation Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation April 9 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, president of The Wilderness Society. "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 was susceptible to being dissolved. The bill ensures that lands within the system remain a single system that will allow a greater communication within the bureau.

The National Landscape Conservation System includes 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."

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