ALERT: Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act introduced in the 111th Congress

SAWS Action Alert

SAWS Members,

Here we go again, this time┬áduring the 111th Congress (2009 – 2010),┬áwith this┬áinsane bill called the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA). This bill has once again been introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-New York.

ÔÇ£The plan would forbid most development across broad swaths of public land in the five states. It calls for the removal of more than 6,000 miles of existing roads, primarily within national forests. Old logging roads would be removed, and habitat restored in most of those areas, creating about 2,300 jobs and leading to a more sustainable economic base in the region, said Michael Garrity, executive director of the Montana-based Alliance for the Wild Rockies, an advocacy group.ÔÇØ

NREPA would create another 23 to 24 million more acres of wilderness in five western states (Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming). Yes, I used the word ÔÇ£createÔÇØ, as much of the public land included in NREPA – which would be designated as wilderness through this bill – is NOT remotely close to meeting the requirements of the Wilderness Act of 1964. Since when did ÔÇ£6000 miles of roadsÔÇØ qualify for wilderness? And if there are ÔÇ£6000 miles of roadsÔÇØ within the proposed wilderness areas, then I can virtually guarantee that there are numerous other man-made structures within these proposed wilderness areas too that do not qualify as wilderness.

Numerous statements regarding NREPA by various individuals attempt to jump on the ever so popular ÔÇ£stimulate the economyÔÇØ bandwagon by claiming NREPA would create thousands of new jobs. I guess they must have forgotten about that thousands of lost jobs that will result from locking up millions of acres of public land from most multiple-use activities and the loss of jobs from businesses that profit and employees that earn a living from catering to those multiple-use activities.

Link to Rep. Carolyn MaloneyÔÇÖs Press Release:

Rep. MaloneyÔÇÖs NREPA bill has been┬áintroduced every year since 1993, but it has thankfully in these past years never had enough support in Congress to┬ápass and be signed┬áby the president, which would then become law. Could this year be different? It is certainly possible with the newly elected individuals in Congress and the White House this year, who happen to be much more supportive of additional wilderness designations, so this bill could have the support it needs in this Congress to become law.

The fact that Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz, is a co-sponsor of NREPA this year is also certainly not good news for the public who enjoys mechanized recreation on public lands. Rep. Grijalva is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. This subcommittee falls under control of the Committee on Natural Resources, which is chaired by Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., who, according to the article below, and along with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Ca.,┬áhave both been indicated their support of NREPA in past years. This year sure seems to be lining up to be a snowmobilers worst nightmare when it comes to access ÔÇô or lack there of ÔÇô to our public lands.

NREPA is the grand daddy of all wilderness bills. This bill proposes to implement large portions of the “Yellowstone to Yukon Initiative” or also referred to as┬á”The Wildlands Project”, and as previously stated,┬áit would designate somewhere between 23 and 24 million MORE acres as wilderness in the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. Do you enjoy snowmobiling in any of these states? If the answer is yes, then you do not want to see this bill become law.

Link to a general map (without detail boundary lines shown) of the proposed new wilderness areas (dark green):

Read the entire bill at this link:

Link to look up the contact information for your representative:
Lookup your U.S. House Representative

The following members on the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands are especially important to contact if they are your representative in Congress.

Mr. Ra├║l M. Grijalva, Arizona, Chairman
Mr. Rob Bishop, Utah, Ranking Republican Member

Democrats Republicans
Dale E. Kildee, Michigan
Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii
Grace F. Napolitano, California
Rush D. Holt, New Jersey
Madeleine Z. Bordallo, Guam
Dan Boren, Oklahoma
Martin Heinrich, New Mexico
Peter A. DeFazio, Oregon
Maurice D. Hinchey, New York
Donna M. Christensen, Virgin Islands
Diana DeGette, Colorado
Ron Kind, Wisconsin
Lois Capps, California
Jay Inslee, Washington
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, South Dakota
John P. Sarbanes, Maryland
Carol Shea-Porter, New Hampshire
Niki Tsongas, Massachusetts
Pedro R. Pierluisi, Puerto Rico
Nick J. Rahall, II, West Virginia (ex officio)
Don Young, Alaska
Elton Gallegly, California
John J. Duncan, Jr., Tennessee
Jeff Flake, Arizona
Henry E. Brown, Jr., South Carolina
Louie Gohmert, Texas
Bill Shuster, Pennsylvania
Robert J. Wittman, Virginia
Paul C. Broun, Georgia
Mike Coffman, Colorado
Cynthia M. Lummis, Wyoming
Tom McClintock, California
Doc Hastings, Washington (ex officio)

Link to our previous SAWS Alert on NREPA from October 2007:

There is not much in this yearÔÇÖs version of the NREPA bill that has changed since our previous SAWS alert in 2007. The bill in this yearÔÇÖs Congress WILL have a different bill number. As of today, it does not appear that a bill number has been assigned yet.

Please write your representative to let them know that you are opposed to this bill and why, but DO NOT reference the old bill number from the last Congress, just refer to the bill as the “Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act” or NREPA for short. I have not included a deadline in this alert, as it is currently not scheduled for a hearing, but it is always best to contact your representative sooner rather than later.

Thank you in advance for acting on the recommendation in this alert.

Dave Hurwitz
Snowmobile Alliance of Western States 

Copyright 2009, Snowmobile Alliance of Western States. All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted to distribute this information, in whole or in part, as long as Snowmobile Alliance of Western States (SAWS) is acknowledged as the source. If you are not yet a member of SAWS, and would like receive our emails, please sign up on our web site today. SAWS is Free to join!

Associated Press Article:

Bill would designate 23M acres of wilderness


WASHINGTON — A New York congresswoman has again introduced a wide-reaching wilderness protection bill that would ban logging, oil exploration and other development on 23 million acres across five Northwestern states.

As in previous years, the proposal by Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney drew criticism from some Western lawmakers who view it as an intrusion on their turf. The Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act would designate millions of new wilderness acreage in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming, and add smaller amounts of wilderness in eastern Oregon and eastern Washington.

No member of Congress from any of the five states has agreed to co-sponsor the bill, which Maloney has pushed in Congress since 1993. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., is a co-sponsor of the latest version. The bill would create 9.5 million acres of new wilderness in Idaho, 7 million acres in Montana, 5 million acres in Wyoming, 750,000 acres in northeastern Oregon and 500,000 acres in eastern Washington.

Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., called the bill a “top-down approach” that does not account for impacts on the local economy or adequately protect access for hunting, fishing and other forms of recreation.

“Montana doesn’t need Washington, D.C. imposing its will and telling us how to take care of our public lands,” Rehberg said. “We’re going to fight this. As a state that’s almost one-third public lands, we have no choice.”

Maloney, who represents New York City, said the bill would protect some of America’s most beautiful and ecologically important lands while saving money and creating jobs.

“Many of America’s most precious natural resources and wildlife are found in the Northern Rockies,” she said, adding that the wilderness proposal “would help protect those resources by drawing wilderness boundaries according to science, not politics.”

The measure would also mitigate the effect of climate change on wildlife by protecting corridors that allow grizzly bears, caribou, elk, bison, wolves and other wildlife to migrate to cooler areas, she said.

The plan would forbid most development across broad swaths of public land in the five states. It calls for the removal of more than 6,000 miles of existing roads, primarily within national forests. Old logging roads would be removed, and habitat restored in most of those areas, creating about 2,300 jobs and leading to a more sustainable economic base in the region, said Michael Garrity, executive director of the Montana-based Alliance for the Wild Rockies, an advocacy group.

The wilderness measure has been introduced every Congress for nearly two decades, but has only twice made it so far as a public hearing – in 1994 and in 2007.

A significant number of Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, spoke favorably of the bill in 2007, and even more lawmakers from both parties are likely to back the bill this year, Garrity said.

“We think we’re making tremendous progress. We have a new president who is much more supportive of wilderness, and we think we have an excellent chance” of winning congressional approval, Garrity said.

A key argument in favor of the bill is a plan to dismantle old logging roads and restore habitat in many areas that have been clear-cut by logging, Garrity said. “This bill puts people to work” in a manner reminiscent of the old Civilian Conservation Corps created in the New Deal,


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