House should stimulate public-lands protection

Negotiations over the proposed economic stimulus bill have hijacked most congressional activity this week, and may delay action in the House on the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act, which had been expected this week.

Even so, we hope the House will take the measure up as soon as possible and pass it quickly.

The act includes the long-sought designation of the proposed Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area along the Gunnison River south of Whitewater. We have supported that designation for many years because it will offer needed protection to lands ranging from the rugged inner canyon of Big Dominguez Creek to the widely used motorized trails in Cactus Park. Some 210,000 acres will be included in the Dominguez-Escalante NCA.

But that’s just one piece of this important omnibus bill. It protects lands in 32 states, including 2 million acres of wilderness in eight states. It preserves coastal areas and assists with forest restoration. It gives formal congressional approval to the National Landscape Conservation System, which includes places like Dominguez-Escalante, McInnis Canyons NCA west of Fruita and Canyon of the Ancients in the Four Corners region.

What’s more, the measure enjoys broad bipartisan support, as well as the backing of local governments near the protected lands.

It was approved by the Senate last month. It deserves to pass the House soon, as well.


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