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The House voted early this afternoon to pass the Omnibus Public Lands Act that passed the Senate last week. The vote was 285-140, with 38 Republicans joining 247 Democrats in voting for it. 4 Democrats (Boren, Marshall, Peterson and Stupak) voted against it.

The bill gives permanent wilderness protection to over 2 million acres of
federal land in 9 states, and protects thousands of miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers.

It now goes on to President Obama for his signature---the first big environmental bill of his presidency.

The roll call vote can be found Here

Pultzer Prize-winning author Wallace Stegner once wrote

Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed. We need wilderness preserved - as much of it as still left, and as many kinds - because it was the challenge against which our character as a people was formed. The reminder and the reassurance that it is still there is good for our spiritual health. It is important to us when we are old simply because it is there - important, that is, simply as an idea.

Well, that Idea is now a Reality in places like

Mount Hood in Oregon and

the Zion Mojave in southwest Utah and

Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and

Wilderness in California's White Mountains, Joshua Tree National Park, and the Mineral King Valley  


Wilderness in Idaho, Michigan, New Mexico, Virginia and West Virginia

There's more in the bill---a lot more. Far too much to list here. Suffice to say it's the best public lands protection act passed by Congress in 15 years---the last time the Democrats controlled both Houses of Congress AND the White House.

Elections DO have consequences.

"This is a monumental day for wilderness and for all Americans who enjoy the great outdoors," said William H. Meadows, president of The Wilderness Society. "With passage of this bill, Congress has made a great gift to present and future generations of Americans. These special places make our communities better places to live, clean our air and water for free, and provide ecological resilience in the face of climate change. They’re also great places to hike and camp and fish with family and friends, of course."

Edward Abbey, author of Desert Solitaire, The Monkeywrench Gang, and a host of other books, may have said it best when he said:

God Bless America, Let's SAVE some of it.

Originally posted to willyr on Wed Mar 25, 2009 at 02:19 PM PDT.

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