How Long Will Mt. Hood’s Rivers Have to Wait?

For all of us who have waited to see Wild and Scenic protections finally provided to some of Mount Hood’s wildest rivers, well, this week’s vote in the House of Representatives means we will just have to wait a little bit longer. The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 would have safeguarded over 1,100 miles of rivers in Oregon, Idaho, Arizona, Wyoming, Utah, Vermont, and Massachusetts. For Mount Hood the bills include adding 80 miles of nine free-flowing rivers to the Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The legislation also includes important protections for 350,000 acres of land along 86 new Wild and Scenic Rivers and it also contained new Wilderness designations for over two million acres of public land.

The Senate had passed this package of bills back in January, and we were hopeful that the House would follow suit on Wednesday March 11 to help enact the second largest Wild and Scenic package in history. However, under a suspension vote, the House was unable to get a two-thirds vote on the bill (although 282 representatives voted for the bill!) So we are back to asking our Senate and House Representatives to find another way to ensure this bill is reintroduced for a vote and is finally passed.

We are are still confident that this will happen sooner rather than later, but the more we can say to our elected representatives that protecting wild rivers, native fish runs, and scenic wilderness areas is important to us, the more chance we have of seeing this bill become law. Mount Hood’s rivers, and other rivers across the country, have waited a long time to be permanently protected.

We need to make sure this happens in 2009.