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March 25th, 2009
Public Lands Bill Includes Grijalva Bill to Create America’s Newest Lands System


Washington, D.C. – Legislation to help create the nation’s newest public lands system, the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS), was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives today as part of a large public lands package.

The bill now goes to President Obama for his signature.

The Omnibus Public Land Management Act, consolidated under H.R. 146, is comprised of 164 bi-partisan bills. It includes legislation introduced by Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva in the 110th and 111th Congresses, which would codify the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) 26 million acre National Landscape Conservation System and legislation he introduced in the 110th Congress, the Federal Lands Restoration Act, to develop, select, and fund landscape-scale forest restoration projects on Federal lands and the National Landscape Conversation Act,

The legislation would also designate more than 2 million acres of wilderness in nine states and establish or expand several national park units, a new national monument, four new national conservation areas, more than 1,000 miles of national wild and scenic rivers, four new national trails and more.

“I am proud to have supported this package of important bills that will now go to President Obama for his signature,” said Grijalva, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands. “I’m especially proud that the bill will permanently establish the National Landscape Conservation System, which is an amazing, but still largely unknown, collection of land and waters. While this legislation will not change management of any particular unit of the System on the ground, it will put these places on the map to citizens of our country who may have no idea these places exist and will hopefully inspire generations of Americans for years to come.”

The NLCS was established administratively in 2000 by then-Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt to recognize and protect the best of the lands and waters managed by the BLM, but the system has never been officially sanctioned by Congress.

The bill also includes important measures on water and land use in local communities as follows:

• Requires Critical Water Studies and Resolves Tribal Water Settlements
The package will help address critical water resource needs by authorizing local water supply studies to evaluate how to meet future water challenges, along with authorizing many projects that enhance water-use efficiencies; address infrastructure needs; and provide a sustainable supply to rural communities.

The bill will also ratify three important water settlements in California, Nevada and New Mexico, involving broad support from Indian Tribes, agricultural and other interests. The bill brings competing Western water interests together to agree on long-term solutions.

• Contains Common-Sense Measures For the Benefit of Local Communities
The bill authorizes numerous land exchanges and conveyances to help local communities. It includes several provisions to improve land management, such as the Forest Landscape Restoration Act, which will facilitate collaborative landscape-scale restoration to help reduce fire risk and fire costs and provide new forest product jobs.

• Negligible Impact on Energy Production
The wilderness and conservation measures within the Omnibus Act will have only negligible effects on oil and gas production because the areas identified for protection are not priorities for production.

There are no PAYGO issues and no earmarks within the bill.

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