Congressman Doug LaMalfa issued the following statement in opposition to the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act, H.R. 803. The bill passed the House by a vote of 227-200.
“This package of land bills would surrender nearly 1.5 million acres to Washington bureaucrats in a time when our forests are overloaded with fuels and sorely in need of active management,” LaMalfa said. “Although we already have strong protections in place for these lands, this new designation would prohibit the use of mechanical devices for fire management, watershed management, and trail maintenance, with potentially devastating consequences. We have seen an increasing number of devastating fires start on poorly managed federal lands that then spread to private lands — eventually reaching and devastating our towns. Putting more land into this restrictive wilderness category will make it that much more difficult to properly access and manage these forests. I share the concerns of locals in the North State who were not properly consulted despite being most affected by the bill’s consequences, and I strongly oppose this misguided legislation.”
LaMalfa introduced two amendments to improve the bill, but Democratic leadership did not allow either to receive a vote. His first amendment clarifies that the bill would not affect the ability of the Forest Service to conduct vegetation management activities in the newly added wilderness and WSR areas.
LaMalfa’s second amendment would ensure that mechanical wildfire mitigation would be allowed in the new wilderness areas designated under this act.
The package that passed today includes eight pieces of legislation:
- H.R. 878, the Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act — adds roughly 307,459 acres of new wilderness designations, 480 miles of new wild and scenic rivers, and an 871,414-acre restoration area, in Trinity and Del Norte counties.
- H.R. 803, the Colorado Wilderness Act would designate 659,059 acres as wilderness in 36 areas throughout Colorado, adding to the existing 3.5 million acres of wilderness already protected in the state.
- H.R. 999, the Wild Olympic Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act would designate 131,900 acres as wilderness and 470 miles of wild and scenic rivers.
- H.R. 973, the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act would create or expand 14 new wilderness areas and create a new 400-mile national recreation trail. In total, this bill seeks to designate 287,500 acres of land as wilderness, which would be cut off from mining and logging operations.
- H.R. 693, the San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act would add 109,167 acres to an Obama-era national monument, create a 49,387-acre national recreation area, and create 30,659 acres of new wilderness.
- H.R. 1075, the Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act would add approximately 191,000 acres to the existing 154,000 acres that currently comprise the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. This is roughly 20,000 more acres than the National Park Service recommended.
- H.R. 577, the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act creates land restrictions for approximately 400,000 acres of land in Colorado in the form of new wilderness, recreation, and conservation areas.
- H.R. 1052, the Grand Canyon Protection Act would permanently ban mineral development on approximately 1 million acres of public lands in Northern Arizona. This misguided land grab solely affects lands far outside the Grand Canyon and impacts the largest tract of uranium deposits in the country.