More Wilderness—Yaaay!

Senate designates over 2 million acres in nine states as new wilderness

Congress might not have made much headway on fixing the economy yet, but if you're dead broke and jobless, at least you'll have plenty of new wildlands to spend all your free time in. In a special Sunday session, the Senate voted to protect over 2 million acres in nine states as new wilderness.

The omnibus bill, which collects 160 others into one neat package, passed handily on a 66-12 vote. Assuming the House follows suit, new sections of California's Sierra Nevada, Oregon's Mount Hood, Rocky Mountain National Park, Virginia's Jefferson National Forest, Idaho's Owyhee canyons, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan, and Utah's Zion National Park will attain the highest protection land can get from the U.S. government.

While some opposing Republicans complained the bills prevented drilling for oil and natural gas on public lands, by and large the measure enjoyed bipartisan support. 

"Today is a great day for America's public lands," said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. "This big, bipartisan package of bills represents years of work by senators from many states, and both parties, in cooperation with local communities, to enhance places that make America so special."

Not a bad move, Senate—not bad at all.

If you could visit any of the new wilderness areas, where would you go? The deserts of Utah? The mountains of Colorado, California, or Oregon? Or Michigan's Pictured Rocks? Tell us in the comments section below.

—Ted Alvarez

Senate boosts wilderness protection across U.S. (AP)