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This Time's the Charm for More Mt. Hood Wilderness?

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July 26, 2007

A decade-long effort to expand wilderness protections around Mt. Hood and the Columbia River Gorge is one step closer to reality today. The Senate Natural Resources Committee unanimously passed a bill Wednesday that adds almost 125,000 acres of wilderness protections and safeguards 80 miles of designated Wild and Scenic Rivers. Steve Pedery with Oregon Wild says the designation has gone from something that seemed impossible to something that now has the backing of pretty much all of Oregon's congressional delegation.

"The good news is there just doesn't really seem to be any opposition to it. The local communities around the mountain are for it, recreation interests are for it, conservationists are for it and there isn't really much reason to not get this done this year."

Pedery believes the long fight is worth it for future generations.

"Folks who like to be able to go to pristine places and hike and camp and fish - this is great news both for them and for their kids and grandkids and great-grandkids. These places are still going to be pristine a hundred years from now."

Oregon senators Ron Wyden (D) and Gordon Smith (R), both members of the committee, call the vote a victory for Oregonians. The bill now heads to the full Senate for approval.

Dondrea Warner/Eric Mack, Public News Service - OR