The headlines of the Chicago Tribune read “Senate backs biggest conservation bill in a decade, protecting millions of acres of land and adding four national monuments”. This is great news not just for the outdoors folks but really for all Americans and here is why.
This is one of the biggest outdoor conservation bills in a long time and it looks like it’s been done right. While the bill still needs to make it through the House and then be signed by the President, this bill has an impact in just about every state of the nation and when signed, will have a positive and lasting impact for a long time to come.
The Senate, working together, in a seemingly and sometimes rare bipartisan manner, passed S.47 – Natural Resources Act. The bill is to protect millions of acres of land, hundreds of miles of wild rivers, and establishing four new national monuments. Legally, by congress coming together to pass federal legislation. This is hugely important to the outdoor community and should be as important to everyone. The outdoor community at first was celebratory with former President Obama’s executive orders declaring new areas as protected lands, then anguishing as current President Trump looked at undoing some of these “protected” areas. Many may have felt rightly upset, as if the outdoor conservation rug had been pulled out from under them.
This bill makes a giant step forward in cementing the protection of what Americans love about our lands. From wilderness area, to historical areas, to outdoor sports and activities we enjoy, this bill has something for just about any one who steps outside of their house. This new legislation is a huge win for everyone really. If you read the Tribune’s article, you get an idea of the magnitude of this piece of legislation. And unlike executive orders, bills like this will have the proper funding to go with it for park and program maintenance.
The value of this bill really struck home with me as I was reading over the introduction in Section 1 of the bill. One of the very first things I read was about the Crags Land Exchange to enhance the Pike’s National Forest and provide permanent trail easement. This is the side of Pikes Peak I climbed with my family. For me anyway, this is an amazing section of trail and land. The experience was something I will hold dear to me. If any of the rest of the areas or items in the bill are worth even a fraction of the Crags portion and my experience hiking there, then this bill is priceless in providing current and future generations with the best outdoor experience possible.