Largest Wilderness Preservation Bill in a Decade Signed

President Donald Trump this week signed a massive wilderness preservation bill that sets aside 1.3 million acres of federal land in California, Oregon, Utah and New Mexico as wilderness. Land designed as wilderness cannot be used for logging, oil drilling or mining.

“This law will give countless Americans the chance to enjoy the natural wonders of our country as we uphold our responsibility to protect the beauty and glory of God’s creation for generations to come,” Trump said, according to the Victorville Daily Press.

The bill creates 375,000 acres of wilderness in the Mojave Desert, according to San Jose’s The Mercury News.

The bill expands Death Valley National Park by 35,929 acres and Joshua Tree National Park by 4,518 acres.

Geary Hund, executive director of the Joshua Tree-based Mojave Desert Land Trust, called the action a “huge win for conservation.”

“It ensures that some of the most important natural and cultural resources in the Mojave Desert will be protected and connected in perpetuity,” Hund said in a statement.

Hund said the areas that are targeted are “critically important” to desert ecosystems and “iconic desert species,” such as the desert tortoise and bighorn sheep.

The “John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act,” is a collection of Republican and Democratic proposals, including those to expand protection for various rivers, establish new Civil War monuments in Kentucky and in Mississippi and honor civil rights leaders Medgar and Myrlie Evers.

The bill will also permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is used to fund parks and outdoor recreational amenities.

The law establishes the 21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps, which is designed to provide job training  for youth, veterans, and Native Americans on public and tribal lands.

Trump’s signature of the bill drew support from Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a frequent critic of Trump.

“I thank President Trump for signing our lands package into law. His effort to achieve energy dominance for our nation while simultaneously working with us to create a conservation legacy with this lands package exceeds the accomplishments of his recent predecessors,” Murkowski said in a statement.

“This law will benefit every state and clear the deck of issues that we’ve been working to resolve for years. From providing access for sportsmen to creating new economic opportunities for local communities, this is a good, balanced measure. We built it through a team effort that drew strong support from both parties in both chambers. Today is a triumph for good process and good policy, and this bill is a win for Alaskans and all Americans,” she said.

“President Trump knows that federal lands are meant to provide both peace and prosperity for the American people, and signing this bill allows us to continue managing public lands in a balanced way,” Department of the Interior Acting Secretary David Bernhardt said in a statement.

“This bill is extremely beneficial to the American people and I look forward to working with Congress and local communities to implement the many local conservation wins within the bill,” he said.


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