This editorial appeared in The Fresno Bee.
In these difficult economic times, Americans need places of solitude where they can get back to the basics. Our wilderness areas serve that purpose for much of the population. These are public lands that are free of roads and machinery and beckon to hikers, horseback riders and anglers.
Congress is close to passing legislation that would designate more than 2 million acres of new wilderness, including 700,000 acres in California. The result of years of hard negotiations, these wilderness designations are part of an omnibus lands bill the Senate passed two weeks ago. It now goes to the House, where lawmakers should quickly approve it and send it to President Obama for his signature.
Californians who cherish the outdoors will have much to celebrate if this package passes. Wildlands on the border of Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks would all be protected. Some 105 miles of streams would become wild and scenic rivers.
This battle has not been easy, and the 79,000-acre addition to the Hoover Wilderness near Bridgeport in Mono County is an example of the various competing interests. This proposed addition includes dozens of alpine lakes and meadows, and is the product of a remarkable compromise.
To read the complete editorial, visit The Fresno Bee.