The Natural Resources Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives announced today that its subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands will hold an October 18 hearing on the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (H.R. 1975), legislation sponsored by Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Christopher Shays (R-CT). NREPA would designate as wilderness all of the inventoried roadless areas in the Northern Rockies, which are some of America's most beautiful and ecologically important lands.
"NREPA is a common sense bill that will save taxpayer dollars, create thousands of good jobs, and protect vast expanses of treasured public land - land that belongs to the American people," said Rep. Maloney. "NREPA's time has come. I want to thank Chairman Rahall and Subcommittee Chairman Grijalva for holding the first hearing on this important issue in nearly a decade."
"The Northern Rocky Mountains are one of America's great wilderness preserves--a living treasure, and home to a critical component of the continent's ecosystem. It is imperative we preserve and protect our environment. We simply will not have a world to live in if we continue our neglectful ways," said Rep. Shays.
NREPA would designate all of the remaining roadless lands in the Northern Rockies as wilderness, the strongest protection the federal government can confer on public lands. Specifically, the bill would 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. Included in this total is over 3 million acres in Yellowstone, Glacier and Grand Teton National Parks.
The Northern Rockies is the only place in the lower 48 states where native species and wildlife are protected on lands that are virtually unchanged since Lewis and Clark saw them - public lands that belong to all Americans. Grizzly bears, caribou, elk, bison, wolves, bull trout and salmon still thrive in the Northern Rockies. The bill seeks to safeguard all of these species and the lands on which they live.
"The bipartisan Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act protects public land owned by all Americans and saves taxpayers money," said musician and wilderness advocate Carole King. "NREPA is a win/win bill whose time has come."
NREPA would establish a pilot wildland recovery system to restore over 6,000 miles of damaging or unused roads to roadless conditions, creating over 2,000 jobs in the process. NREPA would also save taxpayers $245 million in subsidized development over ten years.
"The Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act will create high paying jobs by recovering old roads and clearcuts, save taxpayers money and protect the environment," said Michael Garrity, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies.
The Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act:
-Restores habitat that has been severely damaged from roads that were built, creating more than 2,300 jobs and leading to a more sustainable economic base in the region;
-Connects natural, biological corridors, ensuring the continued existence of native plants and animals and mitigating the effects of global warming;
-Keeps water available for ranchers and farmers downstream until it is most needed; and
-Eliminates subsidized development in the designated wilderness areas, saving taxpayers $245 million over a 10-year period.