* Mrs. MALONEY. Mr. Speaker, today, along with my friends Raúl Grijalva, Edward Markey and 25 other Members, I am reintroducing the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA), legislation that will protect one of our nation's greatest natural resources, the Wild Rockies. With Americans vacationing closer to home, our national parks have seen an increase in visitors in the last few years--a clear indication of America's love for our wild national treasures. We must do everything possible to preserve our pristine wilderness areas so they can be enjoyed by future generations. In addition, a healthy habitat helps to create jobs including those related to restoration, construction, engineering, recreation, tourism, and retail.
* NREPA uses sound science to protect the health of whole ecosystems, including the animals that graze, the native plants and forests that grow, and the watersheds that run through the Northern Rockies. With that goal in mind, this legislation will protect 23 million acres by designating all of the inventoried roadless areas in the Northern Rockies as wilderness, including wild and scenic rivers and streams. The bill also includes a process for States and tribal governments to negotiate a management plan for migratory and biological corridors. NREPA will safeguard only federal public lands--lands owned by all Americans--in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Oregon and Washington, and does not affect private landowners. It also allows for historic uses such as hunting, fishing and firewood gathering.
* NREPA designations are based on ecological and watershed features--not political boundaries. As we all know, rivers don't stay within one Congressional District, animals don't know when they've crossed a political boundary, and forests span millions of miles with no regard for state-lines. I urge my colleagues to take this essential step toward preserving precious wildlife habitat and whole functioning ecosystems in the Wild Rockies.