With Bush headed out the door and Obama about to stride onto the mainstage from the wings, Senators are letting their nature loving, earth hugging, wilderness protecting green side show through. Thursday, the Senate voted to set aside more than 2 million acres in nine states as protected wilderness—a major coup for environmental groups, hikers and of course wildlife. If passed in the house, it’ll be one of the largest expansions of wilderness protection in the past 25 years. According to Matthew Daly’s article in the Associated Press, it’s a collection of 160 separate bills that will confer the highest level of protection on land ranging from California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range to Oregon’s Mount Hood, Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and parts of the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia, and wilderness protections on land and waterways from Idaho to Michigan.
The concession: the bill makes provisions for an Alaskan “Road to Nowhere.” Maybe the Bridge to Nowhere was feeling isolated? The upside: it’s part of a land swap that will transfer more than 61,000 acres to the feds, much of it designated as wilderness.
Pending house approval, the bill will be prepped and ready for Barak Obama’s signature as soon as he’s done getting sworn in and celebrated next Tuesday.