Public Lands Act Adds Conservation System and 2 Million Acres

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on March 30 praised President Barack Obama's signing of the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009. The measure established the 26-million acre National Landscape Conservation System within the Bureau of Land Management and adds 2 million acres of new wilderness across the country. It will also preserve 1,000 new miles of wild and scenic rivers.

"We are in a time of deep uncertainty and economic pain. But for Americans, moments of crisis are opportunities to rebuild, renew, and restore the places we cherish," Salazar said.

He noted that the U.S. population has nearly doubled since President John F. Kennedy created the Land and Water Conservation Fund in the 1960s but open lands, wetlands, and wildlife are still disappearing.

"This bill is a Herculean first step in President Obama's agenda for our open lands," he added.

Salazar credited hard-working citizens who are saving historic sites in their communities; tribal leaders who are forging solutions to complex and long-standing natural resource challenges; mayors and county commissioners who are protecting the backcountry for hunting and fishing and hiking; business leaders who know that good stewardship makes good economic sense; and the many members of the House and Senate, Republicans and Democrats—including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi—whose leadership and persistence made this possible.