Creating new and continuing existing protections affirm importance of public lands for all.
A NOLS course clears a rapid and paddles downriver. Photo Credit: Kirk Rasmussen
Lander, Wyo.—February 28, 2019—A decade in the making, on February 26 Congress passed a sweeping public lands bill that designates numerous new wildernesses, national monuments, national historic parks, national parks, wild and scenic rivers, national conservation areas, and national recreation areas, impacting states from Maine to Hawaii, and from Florida to Alaska. The National Resources Management Act was approved by huge margins in an impressive bipartisan effort and affirms dozens of grassroots efforts across the country to protect local landscapes.
NOLS President John Gans commends this national affirmation of the importance of public lands to every person in the U.S: “It’s incredibly heartening to see that exceptional landscapes and programs are being fully funded and protected in perpetuity. This act sends a message that the integrity of public lands, across the United States, is paramount.”
In addition to lands designations, the National Resources Management Act created a permanent authorization for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, reauthorized the 21st Century Student Service Corps, and codified the Every Kid Outdoors Program.
While numerous states enjoy new designations within their boundaries as a result of this act, NOLS’ operations in Utah will most significantly benefit from the bill. In Utah, NOLS students may spend weeks paddling on the Green River through Desolation Canyon or go canyoneering in the labyrinthine landscape of southern Utah, just to name a few examples.
Some of the new designations in Utah include:
- 142,000 acres in and around Desolation Canyon are designated the Desolation Wilderness
- 55,000 acres along the Green River, upstream of the Green-Colorado confluence, is designated as Labyrinth Canyon
- A 63-mile section of the Green River, through Desolation Canyon, is designated a Wild and Scenic River
- The 850-acre Jurassic National Monument
- The 30,000-acre John Wesley Powell National Conservation Area in northeast Utah
NOLS is still assessing the extent to which its operating areas are preserved by this sweeping legislation. Regardless, we are celebrating the fact that local, grassroots conservation efforts can make a big difference in preserving the crown jewels of our public land inventory, and that visitors from all walks of life, in this generation and in future generations, can continue to enjoy these places in their natural states.
NOLS is the world’s leading wilderness school. A nonprofit based in Lander, WY, the school provides students the opportunity to step forward—whether on an expedition, wilderness medicine or custom course. Students of all ages graduate from their courses prepared to step forward and lead their communities in a changing world. Graduates have a lifelong desire for leadership, commitment to continued skills development, and ongoing education. Since 1965, NOLS has embraced and explored the unknown through outdoor and classroom-based experiences. To learn more about NOLS, call 800.710.6657 or visit www.nols.edu.
Aaron Bannon, NOLS Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability Director, firstname.lastname@example.org