DURBIN TO REINTRODUCE BILL TO PROTECT AMERICA'S RED ROCK WILDERNESS
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] - U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said today that he will introduce legislation in the Senate this week to protect America's Red Rock Wilderness, approximately 9.4 million acres of spectacular and rare wilderness in southern Utah. Currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the agency is not prohibited from selling, leasing or building roads in parts of this publicly held land. An identical bill was introduced in the House by U.S. Representative Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) today.
"Sunday is Earth Day and it is a fitting opportunity for all Americans to rededicate themselves to protecting our nation's natural resources," Durbin said. "I encourage the Senate to do its part as well by supporting the America's Red Rock Wilderness Act, critical legislation that will preserve a national treasure for future generations of Americans."
Durbin's bill would designate 9.4 millions acres in Utah as wilderness under the 1964 Wilderness Act. The bill provides wilderness protection for wildlands, which include steep red rock canyons, enormous arches and towering cliffs with spectacular vistas of unmatched sandstone landscapes. Hidden within this expansive setting are world-renowned archeological sites and habitat for rare plant and animal species. These areas are a haven for those seeking solace in nature, including hikers, backpackers and recreationists.
The lands designated as wilderness in Durbin and Hinchey's legislation were primarily identified through a detailed and extensive public inventory of BLM lands conducted by volunteers from the Utah Wilderness Coalition. By designating certain areas as wilderness, the bill protects them from new commercial enterprise/development, oil and gas exploration, motorized/mechanized vehicles, and road building. Non-consumptive uses such as hunting, fishing, camping, backpacking, hiking, and horseback riding are permitted under the legislation.
"I believe it is the responsibility of Congress to ensure that these fragile lands of magnificent beauty, which already belong to the public, do not fall victim to oil, gas and mining interests, increased commercial development, and proposals to construct roads, utility lines, and dams. We are the stewards of these creations and our legislation will help achieve this important goal," Durbin concluded.