Minutes ago, the US House of Representatives voted 285-140 to pass H.R. 146 as amended in the Senate to include the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. This historic legislation, the most significant conservation bill in over a decade, will go to the President’s desk in the coming days. Senator Jeff Bingaman deserves much credit for moving this along. Congressman Martin Heinrich actually worked in the non profit sector to get this done. Congressman Harry Teague showed courage in voting for it. Congressman Ben Ray Lujan will get protected areas in his district.
The bill designates more than 2 million acres of wilderness, 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. The package also includes the National Landscape Conservation System Act, enlarges the boundaries of more than a dozen existing national park units, and establishes 10 new national heritage areas. Over 160 bills were included in the 1,294-page package.
The New Mexico Congressional delegation, everyone of them, deserve our thanks for voting for this bill on its long and arduous journey to passage. New Mexico's increased federal land protections will mean much to future generations. I am also proud to serve as a member of the Wilderness Society Governing Council, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and the Wyss Foundation which helped build support for this effort.