15 Million Acres and Counting – CA Celebrates National Wilderness Month
Friday, September 10, 2010
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - President Obama has proclaimed September as National Wilderness Month. And, with the second largest amount of protected wilderness area in the nation, California has a lot to celebrate. Although Alaska has more, the Golden State's 15 million acres of wilderness will be protected for generations to come.
Ryan Henson, policy director with the California Wilderness Coalition, says environmentalists have worked hard in recent years to protect areas around San Diego and Los Angeles, and in the southern California desert. He says legislation pending in Congress will protect about 7 million to 9 million more acres.
"In the face of war and the economy and everything it might seem sort of small change, but the fact that wilderness is basically forever - or as forever as we can get in American politics - it rises in importance, and I'm hoping that Congress will act."
California's largest piece of legislation pending in Congress is Sen. Dianne Feinstein's California Desert Protection Act of 2010. The act would preserve nearly 1.5 million acres of Southern California Desert and create two new national monuments.
On the national level, Mike Matz, executive director of the Pew Campaign for America's Wilderness, says people around the country have proposed at least 2 million acres of new federally protected wilderness, and all are waiting for Congress to act on it. He hopes National Wilderness Month revives the discussion.
"These are all places that people have really worked on from the ground up; they support it locally. So, it would be great to see this accomplished, and this is a good way to draw attention to that."
In his proclamation, President Obama also reiterated his desire to create jobs and a sustainable tourism program that revolve around the country's natural resources.
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