Press Release Feb 12, 2020

House Approves 1.3 Million Acres of Wilderness, Adds Over 1,000 Miles into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System

Lands package includes an expansion to Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, over 600,000 acres of new wilderness in Colorado and expanded waterway and wilderness protections near Olympic National Park

WASHINGTON – America’s outdoor recreation, wildlife and waterway protections and historic and cultural preservation legacy advanced today, with bipartisan passage of sweeping legislation by the United States House of Representatives. The Protecting America’s Wilderness Act designates approximately 1.3 million acres of public land as wilderness and incorporates more than 1,000 river miles into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) commended passage of the Protecting America’s Wilderness Act, which included the Rim of the Valley Preservation Act, the Colorado Wilderness Act of 2019 and the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

“The National Parks Conservation Association has worked for years with community leaders to members of Congress to advance the enhanced outdoor and environmental justice legacy that the Rim of the Valley Preservation Act supports,” said Dennis Arguelles, Los Angeles Senior Program Manager for the National Parks Conservation Association. “Passage of the bill also offers a more promising future to urban mountain lions including the famous P-22 in Griffith Park, by expanding the Park Service’s ability to protect and connect landscapes and monitor wildlife. The widespread support for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area expansion underscores how preserving our parks and historic and cultural sites unite us. While today’s vote reaches a new milestone in progress, our work continues to now bring this important legislation to the Senate.

The Rim of the Valley Preservation Act would add areas including Griffith Park, the Simi Hills, El Pueblo de Los Angeles, portions of the LA River and the Arroyo Seco watershed into Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. The more than 190,000-acre expansion will also protect a vital corridor for wildlife including mountain lions, bobcat and golden eagles. Companion legislation championed by Senator Dianne Feinstein passed out of the Natural Resources Committee in December of 2019.

“The Rim of the Valley is important to me because it’s a step in the right direction in bringing added awareness to preserving historical sites and sensitive habitats for wildlife. It will also expand access to neighboring communities that sit on the foothills of the Rim of the Valley,” said , NPCA LA Young Leaders Council Member Celia Contreras.

NPCA also supported the Colorado Wilderness Act of 2019, which designates more than 600,000 acres of public land in Colorado as wilderness, including areas surrounding Mesa Verde National Park, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Curecanti National Recreation Area. Permanent protection helps prevent the growing threat of oil and gas development from permeating the region.

“The decision to permanently protect more than 600,000 acres of wilderness is excellent news for the state, especially while so many of Colorado’s national parks are under threat of nearby oil and gas drilling,” said Tracy Coppola, NPCA’S Colorado Program Manager. “Having nearby land designated as wilderness and protected is important for the health of our national parks’ ecosystems and we’re thankful for Representative DeGette’s leadership in making this happen.”

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About the National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its nearly 1.4 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.