Washington, DC – After many stops and starts, Congress finally passed a long-awaited public lands bill that will protect almost 200,000 acres of pristine places across Oregon with new wilderness designation. Last week, Senator Merkley, along with 76 of his colleagues supported the Senate passage of the public lands bill. Today, the House followed suit and the legislation will now be sent to President Obama to be signed into law.
“This vital bill will expand protections for some of the most treasured places in Oregon, from Mount Hood to the backcountry of the southern Cascades,” said Merkley. “I am proud to have cast my first vote in January to pass legislation that will protect and preserve Oregon’s natural areas for generations to come and I am excited that this bill will now be law.”
The public lands bill consists of numerous pieces of legislation that were blocked from consideration during the last Congress. It includes protections for five areas in Oregon: 127,000 acres of wilderness area around Mt. Hood and the Columbia Gorge, as well as 34,000 acres of Mt. Hood National Recreation Areas and nearly 80 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers; 23,000 acres in the southern backcountry of Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, with provisions for fair compensation to ranchers who retire grazing rights in the monument area; 30,000 acres of badlands 15 miles east of Bend; 8600 acres overlooking the John Day Wild and Scenic River; and 13,700 acres for a new Copper Salmon Wilderness area in Southern Oregon.
“Thanks to this legislation someday soon we’ll be able to visit these newly protected areas and know that they will remain untouched for our children and grandchildren to enjoy decades from now. That is a legacy we can be very proud of,” said Merkley.