Congress Passes Omnibus Lands Bill

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, New Mexico, is among the national monuments offered renewed protection through the sweeping Omnibus Lands Bill.© Julius Rückert

Environmentalists cheered Congress last week when the House of Representatives passed the long-awaited Omnibus Public Lands Bill, sending it on its way to an enthusiastic White House for a signature. The bill designates upwards of two million acres of new wilderness areas in nine states (the largest expansion of wilderness protection in 15 years). It also establishes three new national park units, a new national monument, three new national conservation areas, more than 1,000 miles of national wild and scenic rivers, and four new national trails while enlarging the boundaries of more than a dozen existing national park units and establishing 10 new national heritage areas.

"After nearly a decade during which our parks were taken for granted and our range lands were scarred by a spiderweb of roads and [drilling] well pads," the lands bill "represents a new dawn for America’s heritage and American values," Rep. Nick Rahall, the West Virginia Democrat who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee, told reporters.

Sources: NRDC; MSNBC