Boston, MA – Today, as President Obama signs into law the Omnibus Public Land Management Act, Environment Massachusetts will be at the White House to witness it. Once enacted, two million acres of land will be designated wilderness in nine states, which is the largest expansion of the National Wilderness Preservation System in 15 years. However, the package of bills goes beyond wilderness designations. It also designates national heritage areas, national scenic trails, and national conservation areas. In total, the omnibus includes more than 160 different bills, including the Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness Act and Lewis and Clark Mt. Hood Wilderness Act.
Notable areas in the Bay State that are preserved under the new law include the Taunton River, which has been designated as a Wild and Scenic River, and the Metacomet and Mattabesett Trails in Connecticut and the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail in Massachusetts, also known as the MMM, which has been designated as the New England National Scenic Trail
“Thanks to President Obama, some of the most treasured places in Massachusetts, and around the nation are being protected for future generations,” said Preservation Associate, David Christopher. “This is an amazing day for anyone who has ever enjoyed a hike through the forests of the Berkshires or taken a canoe trip down the Taunton River,” Christopher concluded.
In addition to the wild areas in Massachusetts that are protected by the act, Environment Massachusetts’ staff in Washington D.C. have worked to advance several pieces of the larger package of bills. The Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness Act, originally sponsored by former Senator Salazar, will give the iconic park the strongest protections provided by the federal government. The Lewis and Clark Mt. Hood Wilderness Act will protect an area of Oregon’s natural landscape visited by 4 million people every year. Lastly, Environment Massachusetts’ D.C. staff has worked to establish the National Landscape Conservation System, so that the 26 million acres included in the system, such as Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument, will be protected and preserved.
“Environment Massachusetts thanks President Obama for his support of public lands protections, and we look forward to continuing these efforts in the future,” Christopher concluded.