Omnibus Lands Bill Passes House
Just moments ago, on a vote of 285 to 140, the House of Representatives passed the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act, one of the more sweeping wilderness bills passed in over a decade. A last minute attempt by Rep. Doc Hastings (WA-4th District) to add an amendment that would allow concealed handguns within national parks was voted down in the rules committee.
The bill, which now heads for President Obama's desk, would designate over 2 million acres of wilderness, 39 wild and scenic rivers and over 5,000 miles of national trails, including National Scenic Trail designation of the 1,200-mile Pacific Northwest Trail from Glacier National Park to Cape Alava, and the Ice Age Floods Geologic Trail which runs from Montana, through Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
The bill passed the Senate overwhelmingly in January, but previously did not pass in the House by a two thirds majority--which was needed in order to limit amendments to the bill. Rep. Hastings' amendment sought to reverse a ruling in which a judge recently struck down the Bush administration's rule change that would have allowed concealed handguns in national parks. WTA has taken no position on the rule on concealed guns in national parks, but we are concerned about increasing reports of negative, and sometimes dangerous, encounters between hikers and gun owners.
WTA welcomes passage of this important lands bill and official recognition of the PNT and the Ice Age Floods Geologic Trail.