This bill — the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act — would authorize the designation of several wilderness and conservation areas within public lands in California, Colorado, and Washington. In sum, the bill would designate about 1.49 million acres of federal lands as wilderness, add nearly 1,000 miles of rivers to the National Wild and Scenic River System, and withdraw over 1.2 million acres of public land from new oil and gas and mining claims. It contains provisions of six bills that were combined as part of this package,a breakdown of which can be found below.
Colorado Wilderness Act: This section would designate specified lands in Colorado managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Forest Service, the National Park Service (NPS), and Bureau of Reclamation as wilderness and components of the National Wilderness Preservation System. Specifically, it would incorporate these lands into the West Elk Wilderness area, and designate the Deep Creek Wilderness & Pisgah Mountain Wilderness areas following notice in the Federal Register.
The Dept. of the Interior (DOI) would be allowed to continue authorizing competitive running events that are currently permitted in the Redcloud Peak Wilderness & the Handies Peak Wilderness Areas.
The Colorado Army National Guard could continue conducting aerial navigation training maneuver exercises through the High-Altitude Army National Guard Aviation Training Site over the wilderness areas designated by this bill.
Additionally, this bill would provide for the securing, adjudication, and use of U.S. water rights for wilderness areas designated by this bill.
Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation, and Working Forests Act: This section would establish the South Fork Trinity-Mad River Restoration Area, the Northwest California Public Lands Remediation Partnership, the Trinity Lake & Del Norte County visitor centers, the Horse Mountain Special management Area, the Elk Camp Ridge National Recreation Trail, and the Sanhedrin Conservation Management Area.
It would also make the following designations:
- Specified federal lands as components of the National Wilderness Preservation System;
- The North Fork Wilderness as the North Fork Eel River Wilderness;
- Specified federal lands as potential wilderness areas; and
- Specified segments of certain rivers and creeks and of a specified river estuary as components of the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System.
Additionally, this section would:
- Authorize the utilization of certain forest residues for research & development of bio-based products that result in net carbon sequestration;
- Authorize initiatives to restore degraded redwood forest ecosystems in the Redwood National Forest & state parks;
- Require studies about visitor accommodations in the Six Rivers, Shasta-Trinity, and Mendocino National Forests, as applicable;
- Authorize partnerships for trail and campground maintenance, public education, visitor contacts, and visitor center staffing on federal lands in Mendocino, Humboldt, Trinity, and Del Norte Counties; and
- Adjust the boundaries of the Elkhorn Ridge Wilderness.
Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act: This section would designate specific public lands on the Olympic peninsula in the state of Washington as components of the National Wilderness Preservation System, including the:
- Lost Creek Wilderness;
- Rugged Ridge Wilderness;
- Alckee Creek Wilderness;
- Gates of the Elwha Wilderness;
- Green Mountain Wilderness;
- Moonlight Dome Wilderness;
- South Quinault Ridge Wilderness;
- Sam’s River Wilderness; and
- Canoe Creek Wilderness.
It would also make additions to the:
- Buckhorn Wilderness;
- The Brothers Wilderness;
- Mount Skokomish Wilderness;
- Wonder Mountain Wilderness; and
- Colonel Bob Wilderness.
Central Coast Heritage Protection Act: This section would designate specified lands in the Los Padres National Forest & the Bakersfield BLM Field Office as components of the National Wilderness Preservation System, and as the Black Mountain Scenic Area.
It would designate certain land in the Los Padres National Forest as:
- The Machesna Mountain Potential Wilderness Area, to be incorporated into the Machesna Mountain Wilderness Area;
- The Fox Mountain Potential Wilderness Area, to be incorporated into the San Rafael Wilderness;
- The Condor Ridge Scenic Area; and
- The Condor National Scenic Trail.
This section would also designate specific segments of the Indian, Mono, Matilija, Sespe, and Piru Creeks and Sisquoc River in California as components of the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System, and require studies of new trails for recreation opportunities.
Indian tribes would be assured of access to the wilderness areas, scenic areas, and potential wilderness areas designated by this bill for traditional cultural religious purposes.
San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act: This section would expand the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument by establishing the San Gabriel National Recreation Area along the San Gabriel River corridor (portions of which would be added to the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System).
Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act: This section would adjust the boundary of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in California as depicted on a specified map to include the Rim of the Valley Unit. The Rim of the Valley Unit, and any lands or interests acquired by the U.S. and located within its boundaries, would be administered as part of the recreation area. The DOI could make acquisitions of non-federal land within the boundaries of the Rim of the Valley Unit only through exchange, donation, or purchase from a willing seller.
Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE): This section would provide for the conservation of land in the following parts of Colorado, giving the state 73,000 acres in new designated wilderness and about 80,000 acres as new recreation and conservation management areas. The lands to be conserved are:
- Specified federal lands within the White River National Forest as components of the National Wilderness Preservation System,
- The proposed Williams Fork Mountains Wilderness,
- The Tenmile Recreation Management Area,
- The Porcupine Gulch Wildlife Conservation Area,
- The Williams Fork Mountains Wildlife Conservation Area,
- The Camp Hale National Historic Landscape,
- The Sheep Mountain and Liberty Bell East Special Management Areas, and
- The Curecanti National Recreation Area.
It would also adjust the boundary of the White River National Forest and the Rocky Mountain National Park Potential Wilderness, provide for additional federal lands’ inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System, and cancel all Thompson Divide oil or gas leases. Finally, it would establish the Greater Thompson Divide Fugitive Coal Mine Methane Use Pilot Program to promote the capture and use of fugitive methane emissions to reduce methane emissions, improve air quality and improve public safety.
Grand Canyon Protection: This section would withdraw over one million acres of federal land in Arizona from entry, appropriation, and disposal under public land laws and prohibit mining and mineral leasing activities on these lands.