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Wilderness Bill Passes Congress, Protects 700,000 California Acres

Detail of newly protected Southern Californian land under the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (Key to Map is below) | Image via The Wilderness Society's California Office
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Did you know that about 47% of California land is owned by the federal government? Whether it's for Defense, a National Park, a National Forest or any other of the various federal agencies, that's a considerable amount of property. Notwithstanding, 14% of the state is designated under the National Wilderness System, which gives land some of the highest protections, meaning not even the feds can come along and pave a road or build a visitor center in these areas. Yes, that even means for land within National Parks.

Earlier this month, a bill that would have protected hundreds of thousands of acres of land in California failed to pass by two votes in the House. Fast forward to this morning and the outcome was very different--it passed, albeit with some provisions. The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 will permanently protect more than 2 million acres of America’s wilderness in nine states and is expected to be signed by President Barack Obama within the next week. In California, 700,000 acres will be protected: