Protect Our Public Lands

7 bills to protect nature

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The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources has an opportunity to advance legislation to protect more nature

On November 16, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will hold a business meeting during which they will consider multiple bills related to public lands. Seven of these bills, if passed and signed into law could have a significant impact on protecting nature in the United States.

Below is our letter to Senators, recommending that they vote for more nature.


November 15, 2023

Dear Chairman Manchin, Ranking Member Barrasso and members of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources:

We are writing with recommendations to vote yes for seven bills that will protect more nature in the United States. People need nature. Yet every minute, two football fields worth of the country’s natural lands are lost. We’re losing forests, grasslands and places to get out into the great outdoors to see wildlife, hike, climb, camp, fish and hunt. 

We urge members of the committee to vote for for the following bills:

  1. Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act  S. 1634. The Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act has support from across the state because Coloradans — and the millions of outdoors enthusiasts who visit the state each year to ski, hike, fly-fish, raft and experience nature — love public lands. The CORE Act will protect beautiful high country areas such as Ice Lake Basin and McKenna Peak in the San Juan Mountains from mining and development so that wildlife can thrive and the public can enjoy nature.
  2. Dolores River National Conservation Area and Special Management Area Act (S. 636). The Dolores River Canyon is full of beautiful juniper, spruce and aspen trees as well as cactus and sagebrush lower to the ground. The animals that take refuge in the canyon include raptors such as bald eagles and peregrine falcons, big cats such as mountain lions and bobcats, and other critters such as bighorn sheep, river otters and mule deer. Communities in the area rely on the river for drinking water, farming, and fishing. 
  3. Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act: S. 1254. Washington’s rivers provide habitats for salmon and other important species. They also play a huge role in Washington’s outdoor life — from sports fishing to kayaking — and provide drinking water for local communities. Protecting our waterways though the Wild and Scenic designation will ensure these wellsprings of life are protected for future generations in Washington. 
  4. Malheur Community Empowerment for the Owyhee Act S. 1890. In Oregon’s southeastern corner, the 2.5 million acre Owyhee Canyonlands offers a spectacular outdoor experience with its diverse set of natural wonders: colorful canyon peaks, racing waters and rare wildlife living undisturbed in their natural habitat. These features provide endless recreational opportunities, such as hiking up towering rock formations, walking along lava flows, and kayaking, canoeing or rafting on the Owyhee River as rainbow and redband trout swim alongside. The Owyhee Canyonlands should be protected.
  5. PUBLIC Lands Act S. 1776. California is full of amazing places from the north coast to the central coast to the San Gabriels in the backyard of Los Angeles. This bill will protect approximately 1 million acres of California public lands and more than 500 miles of rivers across the state.
  6. Pecos Watershed Protection Act  S. 3033. The Pecos River watershed provides important habitat for trout and supports wildlife habitat valued for elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, black bear and dusky grouse. Mine waste spilled in the past resulted in decades of damage to the Pecos River and surrounding ecosystem, killing fish in 11 miles of the river. This bill would prevent future damage from mining and protect this habitat.
  7. Continental Divide Trail Completion Act S. 594. We support the completion of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail in time for the trail’s 50th anniversary in 2028. Traversing five states, the trail is an incredible opportunity for locals and visitors alike to experience nature, whether they hike a few miles or attempt to conquer the entire 3,100 miles. The trail should be completed so that hikers are not diverted onto roads and can fully enjoy the trail no matter where they are hiking on it.


Lisa Frank
Executive Director
Washington Legislative Office

Ellen Montgomery
Public Lands Campaign Director

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