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LibbyMt.com > News > May 2009 > House hearing for wilderness expansion bill May 5th


NREPA on Kootenai NF. Photo by Alliance for the Wild Rockies.
NREPA on Kootenai NF
Map showing proposed new wilderness area expansion on the Kootenai National Forest.

All NREPA - 5 State Area. Photo by Alliance for the Wild Rockies.
All NREPA - 5 State Area
Map showing proposed wilderness expansion for Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and Washington states.

NREPA on Lolo NF. Photo by Alliance for the Wild Rockies.
NREPA on Lolo NF

NREPA on Flathead NF. Photo by Alliance for the Wild Rockies.
NREPA on Flathead NF
Proposed wilderness areas on the Flathead National Forest.

NREPA on Idaho Panhandle. Photo by Alliance for the Wild Rockies.
NREPA on Idaho Panhandle
Proposed wilderness expansion areas on the Idaho Panhandle.
House hearing for wilderness expansion bill May 5th
H.R. 980: Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA)
by Dawn Ballou, LibbyMT.com
May 4, 2009

Editor's Update, 5/5/09: No vote was taken by the Committee on NREPA after the hearing on Tuesday, May 5th. It is not known when, or if, a vote will be taken by the committee on this proposed bill.
____________________________
Original Post 5/4/09:
The House Natural Resources Committee will hear testimony on Tuesday, May 5th, regarding H.R. 980, the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA). Under the proposed House bill, wilderness proponents are hoping to get 24-million additional acres of public land in five states in the northern Rockies under federal wilderness protection. The bill involves federal land managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management in the states of Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

Proponents of the bill say the designation is important to connect natural, biological corridors to ensure the continued existence of native plants and animals and mitigating the effects of global warming; Restore habitat that has been severely damaged from roads that were built, and creates more than 2,300 jobs and leading to a more sustainable economic base in the region; Keep water available for ranchers and farmers downstream until it is most needed; and eliminate subsidized development in the designated of 24 million acres of new wilderness areas, saving taxpayers $245 million over a 10-year period.

The Alliance for the Wild Rockies issued a press release saying, "NREPA will designate all of the inventoried roadless areas in the Northern Rockies as wilderness; protect some of America's most beautiful and ecologically important lands while saving taxpayers money and creating jobs. To preserve the biological integrity of the Northern Rockies ecosystem, NREPA will designate as wilderness nearly 7 million acres of wilderness in Montana, 9.5 million acres of wilderness in Idaho, 5 million acres of wilderness in Wyoming, 750,000 acres in eastern Oregon, and 500,000 acres in eastern Washington on federal public land. Included in this total is over 3 million acres in Yellowstone, Glacier and Grand Teton National Parks." (read the full AWR press release here)

The bill greatly expands the amount of federal land that has tight restrictions on allowed human activities, limited access, no new development, and is closed to motorized and off-road vehicle use, mineral exploration, logging, road construction, and timber harvesting. The bill will result in a significant reduction of areas open to outdoor recreation activities such as snowmobiling, boating, ATV vehicle use, and mountain biking.

The bill was introduced in February, 2009, by Representative Carol Maloney, a Democrat from New York, and Congressman Raul Grijavala, a Democrat from Arizona (who is also Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands). The bill is co-sponsored by 72 legislators. Two legislators from Washington and one from Oregon support the bill. There are no legislative supporters from Montana, Wyoming or Idaho. The proposal has been introduced and reintroduced multiple times since 1992, however has never before obtained enough traction to pass out of committee.

The bill includes proposed wilderness expansion on the Kootenai, Lolo and Flathead National Forests in northwest Montana, and acreage in the Idaho Panhandle. Click on this link for a map showing all the proposed affected areas. Click on this link for a map showing areas proposed as wilderness on the Kootenai National Forest. Click here to jump to maps for other areas.

- Ten Lakes Wilderness, consisting of approximately 48,000 acres administered by the Kootenai National Forest.
- Mt. Hefty/Tuchuck/Thompson-Seton Wilderness, consisting of approximately 105,000 acres administered by the Flathead or Kootenai National Forest.
- Le Beau Wilderness, consisting of approximately 6,000 acres administered by the Flathead or Kootenai National Forest.
- Glacier Wilderness, consisting of approximately 925,000 acres administered by Glacier National Park.

The bill proposes to designate 1,038,000 acres in the Greater Cabinet/Yaak/Selkirk ecosystem as wilderness. The land would be designated as wilderness and incorporated into the wilderness by the following wilderness names:

CABINET MOUNTAINS WILDERNESS ADDITIONS:
The Cabinet additions consisting of approximately 100,000 acres administered by the Kootenai National Forest incorporated into the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness.

NEW NATIONAL WILDERNESS PRESERVATION SYSTEM COMPONENTS:
The following areas are proposed to be designated as new components of the National Wilderness Preservation System:
- Saddle Mountain area, consisting of approximately 15,000 acres administered by the Kootenai National Forest.
- Galena Creek area, consisting of approximately 20,000 acres administered by the Kootenai National Forest.
- Berray Mountain area, consisting of approximately 9,000 acres administered by the Kootenai National Forest.
- Lone Cliff-Smeads area, consisting of approximately 10,000 acres administered by the Kootenai National Forest.
- McNeeley area, consisting of approximately 7,000 acres administered by the Kootenai National Forest.
- Northwest Peaks area, consisting of approximately 15,000 acres administered by the Kootenai National Forest.
- Roderick area, consisting of approximately 30,000 acres administered by the Kootenai National Forest.
- Grizzly Peak area, consisting of approximately 7,000 acres administered by the Kootenai National Forest.
- West Fork Yaak area, consisting of approximately 9,000 acres administered by the Kootenai National Forest.
- Mt. Henry area, consisting of approximately 14,000 acres administered by the Kootenai National Forest.
- Alexander Creek area, consisting of approximately 7,000 acres administered by the Kootenai National Forest.
- Robinson Mountain area, consisting of approximately 7,000 acres administered by the Kootenai National Forest.
- Devilís Gap area, consisting of approximately 5,000 acres administered by the Kootenai National Forest.
- Lone Cliff West area, consisting of approximately 5,000 acres administered by the Kootenai National Forest.
- Allen Peak area, consisting of approximately 30,000 acres administered by the Kootenai National Forest.
- Huckleberry Mountain area, consisting of approximately 9,000 acres administered by the Kootenai National Forest.
- Cataract Peak area, consisting of approximately 39,000 acres administered by the Kootenai or Lolo National Forest.
- Cube Iron-Silcox area, consisting of approximately 39,000 acres administered by the Kootenai or Lolo National Forest.
- Mt. Willard/Lake Estelle Roberts area, 18 consisting of approximately 79,000 acres administered by the Idaho Panhandle or Kootenai National Forests.
- Trestle Peak area, consisting of approximately 7,000 acres administered by the Idaho Panhandle or Kootenai National Forests.

According to the Alliance for the Wild Rockies website, H.R. 980 is endorsed by the following Montana and Idaho organizations: Cabinet Resource Group Trout Creek, MT; Friends of the West; Missoula-Bitterroot Chapter of the Montana Wilderness Association; Blackfeet Crazy Dogs Society Heart Butte, MT; Idaho Sportsmen Coalition; Last Chance Audubon Society Helena, MT.

The May 5th House Committee hearing will be broadcast on a live webcast which can be heard at this link at 2:00 PM: http://resourcescommittee.house.gov/



Related Links
  • Alliance for the Wild Rockies
  • Text of H.R. 980 - (149 page PDF)
  • Full text of H.R. 980
  • NREPA Co-Sponsors
  • NREPA Endorsements
  • Wilderness designation proposed for Fremont, New Fork Lakes, Wyoming Range - Wyoming counties react in opposition to proposed wilderness expansion bill and impacts on Bridger-Teton National Forest
  • LibbyMt.com > News > May 2009 > House hearing for wilderness expansion bill May 5th
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