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2020Talks - January 17, 2020 

Just a couple weeks out from the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, four Senators are being pulled off the campaign trail for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

New OR Wilderness Areas Hinge on Weekend Vote

January 9, 2009

Washington, D.C. - Oregon has a big stake in the massive "Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009" - five potential new wilderness areas - and they could take a crucial step forward this weekend. They're part of a package of more than 150 public land and energy bills left over from the last Congress.

Frustrated with one senator's objections to some parts of the legislation, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he'll keep lawmakers in session over the weekend if necessary, for a vote. The opposing senator, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, says passing the bill will increase government spending. However, David Dreher, government affairs representative for the Campaign for America's Wilderness, says that is not the case.

"It gets things in the pipeline that, in the future, Congress can decide to spend money on, but it's an authorizing bill. It doesn't spend a single penny, and it complies with the Budget Act."

Some senators would prefer to vote on each bill separately, but Dreher explains they've been lumped together to save time. For Oregon conservationists and sportsmen, some of whom have been waiting for years for creation of new Oregon wilderness, that's a good thing.

"It's extremely bipartisan; it's extremely popular. It's going to be a legacy that is worthy of Oregon - the future for Oregon and the people who live there - because of the quality of life."

Dreher predicts a first vote on Sunday, and a final vote by mid-week. The Omnibus Act includes new, federal wilderness designations for Mount Hood, the Elk River, the Soda Mountain area of southwest Oregon, and the Badlands and Spring Basin areas of central Oregon. Oregon congressmen on both sides of the aisle support it.

In all, the Act encompasses two million acres of public lands in nine states. The Campaign for America's Wilderness will post updates on the vote on its Web site,

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR