Amidst a number of bills that threaten our public lands and waters, this week also saw the introduction and good first steps to advance legislation that would protect a few key landscapes for outdoor recreation.
On Thursday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed dozens of public lands bills, including three that would protect landscapes that Outdoor Alliance and its member groups have been working to safeguard. After passing through committee, these three landscapes are one step closer to being recognized and protected:
- Washington’s Mountains to Sound Greenway: The first bill to designate the Mountains to Sound Greenway as a National Heritage Area, was introduced by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Patty Murray (D-WA). The companion bill in the House (H.R. 1791) was introduced by Rep. Reichert (R-WA) and Rep. Smith (D-WA).
- The Mountains to Sound Greenway is an outdoor includes 1.5 million acres of public and private land from Seattle to Central Washington, 126,000 acres of wilderness 469 river miles, 1,600 miles of trails, whitewater runs, backcountry skiing and snowshoeing, rock climbing routes, and mountain biking opportunities. The National Heritage Area designation would improve management of the area and promote economic growth and tourism in the region. Learn more.
- Montana’s East Rosebud Creek: A bill to designate parts of East Rosebud Creek as a Wild & Scenic River was introduced by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT). East Rosebud Creek offers paddlers an intense whitewater experience and anglers excellent fishing opportunities. Many hikers also begin trips in the Beartooth Mountains from the banks of East Rosebud Creek, and families often take advantage of the campground filled with the sights and sounds of the crystal clear stream. It is a gem in an area of incomparable beauty and national significance for its expansive wild and working landscapes. This legislation would designate a spectacular 20 mile section of river as a Wild and Scenic, protecting the stream from future hydropower dams, water quality degradation, and other impacts, while allowing continued enjoyment and uses of the stream. Learn more.
- Washington’s Methow Valley: A bill to withdraw mining claims in Okanogan County, Washington, a recreation destination north in the state, was introduced by Sen. Cantwell (D-WA) and Sen. Murray (D-WA). The Methow Valley, located in the foothills of the North Cascades, is one of the Northwest's most popular recreation destinations. It's surrounded by spectacular protected lands, including the wild high country of North Cascades National Park, the rolling mountains and high country meadows of the Pasayten Wilderness, the Chelan-Sawtooth Range, and the North Cascades Scenic Highway. The Methow Valley is also known for its world-class, year-round recreational opportunities including alpine and rock climbing, backcountry skiing, hunting and fishing, wildlife viewing, river running, and mountain biking. The valley is perhaps most famous for cross-country skiing, boasting North America’s largest groomed cross-country ski trail system. Learn more.
These three bills are positive steps forward for protecting key landscapes for the outdoor recreation community.