March 11, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington County Wilderness Bill Hits House Hurdle; Likely to Receive another Vote Soon as Part of Omnibus Public Lands Package
Washington, D.C. - The U.S. House of Representatives defeated S. 22, the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act, which includes a widely supported wilderness bill for Washington County, Utah. While today’s setback is somewhat disheartening, the House will likely give the public lands package another opportunity for passage in the near future. SUWA looks forward to the work ahead to achieve success and protect wild lands in Utah.
The Washington County wilderness provision included in S. 22 will permanently protect over 180,000 acres of wild lands in the Zion-Mojave region of southwestern Utah. Lands to be protected include critical wildlife habitats of Canaan Mountain and the Black Ridge area adjacent to Zion National Park; the unique Joshua tree forests of Beaver Dam Wash; and the remote and mountainous Great Basin landscapes of Doc’s Pass and Cougar Canyon. The provision would double the amount of Bureau of Land Management Wilderness in the state of Utah.
Today’s vote was held under special procedural consideration, whereby the bill required two-thirds of all votes cast in order to pass. In the end, the package came up just two votes shy of a two-thirds majority, despite garnering the support of dozens of Republicans. While exact timing is unknown, we hope the bill will be brought back to the House floor under a different procedural guideline.
SUWA thanks House and Senate leaders who have supported the protection of crucial areas of the Zion-Mojave wilderness, especially Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah, the provision’s sponsor, and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall of West Virginia, lead House backer of the public lands package. Should the House pass S.22 without any changes, it would then be sent to President Obama, who is expected to sign the bill when it reaches his desk.
>>For more information, see our detailed fact sheet on the Washington County wilderness bill