A new suite of lands bills will protect massive, sweeping areas of American wilderness, including areas in Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Montana and Washington. The bills will protect more than 245,000 acres of wilderness, and over one million acres of public land in total. The National Park System will also be expanded.
The land bills were nestled inside the yearly NDAA, which passed on Friday. While the bill was bi-partisan, multiple outspoken conservatives—including Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)—have fired back at the bill, calling it a “Federal land grab” and a potential threat to American jobs.
Environmental advocates, however, are celebrating the defense bill rider as a victory that will successfully protect massive swathes of American wilderness. Newly designated and protected wilderness areas include Pine Forest and Wovoka in Nevada, Columbine-Hondo in New Mexico, over 100,000 acres of land northwest of Durango, Colorado, and expansions of wilderness in Montana and Washington. The Wilderness Society is currently running a petition to thank Congress for their effort—you can check it out here.