This is What the Senate’s Largest Public Lands Package in 10 Years Means

The bipartisan measure would create more than 1.3 million acres of wilderness out West.

public lands package
American national parks were just protected by nearly every single state senator. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Senate passed the most sweeping conservation legislation in a decade on Tuesday, protecting millions of acres of land and hundreds of miles of wild rivers across the country.

The measure, which passed 92 to 8, also establishes our new national monuments honoring heroes including Civil War soldiers and a civil rights icon, The Washington Post reported.

In a surprising reprieve from the typical bickering found on Capitol Hill, Senators from across the ideological spectrum celebrated gains for their states and congratulated each other for bridging the partisan divide.

“It touches every state, features the input of a wide coalition of our colleagues, and has earned the support of a broad, diverse coalition of many advocates for public lands, economic development and conservation,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

It’s a paradoxical win for conservation at a time when President Trump has promoted development on public lands and scaled back safeguards established by his predecessors, the Post noted.

The 1.3 million acres of wilderness now protected is so heavily safeguarded that roads and motorized vehicles are prohibited and prevents more than 370,000 acres of land from becoming mining sites.

One of the provisions inserted into the conservation bill by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who co-authored it, allows native Alaskans who served in Vietnam to apply for a land allotment in their home state.

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl M Grijalva (D-Ariz.) hailed it as “an old-school green deal,” saying he and the top Republican on his panel, Rep. Rob Bishop (Utah) “are happy to work together to get this across the finish line.”

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