AWR Blog

Michael Garrity, Executive Director, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, (406) 459-5936
Gary Macfarlane, President,Alliance for the Wild Rockies, (208) 882-9755

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee announced today that its subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands will hold a hearing on May 5, 2009 on the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act, H.R. 980, sponsored by Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Representative Grijavala (D-AZ) and 69 other Representatives of both parties. NREPA will designate all of the inventoried roadless areas in the Northern Rockies as wilderness; protect some of America’s most beautiful and ecologically important lands while saving taxpayers money and creating jobs.

To preserve the biological integrity of the Northern Rockies ecosystem, NREPA will designate as wilderness nearly 7 million acres of wilderness in Montana, 9.5 million acres of wilderness in Idaho, 5 million acres of wilderness in Wyoming, 750,000 acres in eastern Oregon, and 500,000 acres in eastern Washington on federal public land. Included in this total is over 3 million acres in Yellowstone, Glacier and Grand Teton National Parks.

The Northern Rockies is the only place in the lower 48 states where native species and wildlife are protected on lands that are virtually unchanged since Lewis and Clark saw them. This is public land belonging to all Americans. NREPA designates all of the remaining roadless lands in the Northern Rockies as wilderness, the strongest protection the federal government can confer on public lands.

NREPA establishes a pilot wildland recovery system. Over 6,000 miles of damaging or unused roads will be restored to roadless conditions, providing employment for over 2,000 workers while saving tax-dollars from subsidized development.

NREPA would help combat global warming by protecting the carbon sink these forests provide.

University of Utah Museum of History Research Curator William Newmark said, “We are in the midst of the world’s sixth major extinction event and passage of ecosystem protection bills like NREPA is one of the most effective ways of reducing species loss in western North America.”

Singer Carole King said, “As a 32-year resident of Idaho, I know that some of my neighbors in the bioregion have a historical antipathy to designated wilderness. Ironically, once wilderness is designated, many of the same people who opposed protected wilderness benefit from its existence.”

King continued, “NREPA, the opposite of a top-down bill, was drafted by local residents of the Northern Rockies bioregion, including wildlife biologists, economists, business owners, and individuals who recognized the need for, and the benefits of, protecting the Northern Rockies ecosystem.”

King concluded, “NREPA saves money, creates jobs — let me say that again; CREATES JOBS!! — and protects an ecosystem that includes headwaters on both sides of the Continental Divide and species that will be lost without NREPA’s biological corridors. Private land is NOT affected; grazing and existing mining claims are NOT affected; and 95% of the planned logging will go forward under NREPA.”

Michael Garrity, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, said, “The Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act will create high paying jobs by recovering old roads and clearcuts, save taxpayers money and protect the environment.”

Garrity said, “NREPA would save taxpayers $245 million over a ten-year period by managing the land as wilderness. Additionally, more than 2,300 jobs would be created in the region through NREPA’s program to restore Northern Rockies habitats to their natural state.”

Garrity said, “NREPA would help combat global warming by protecting the carbon sink these forests provide. The Forest Service’s own studies show the more forests we protect the more carbon our National Forests will absorb.”

Garrity concluded, “NREPA is a Montana made bill, conceived and written by people here in the Northern Rockies. Most Americans and most of the people in the Montana have demonstrated that they support protecting all roadless lands when they comment on the roadless rule. NREPA permanently protects all roadless lands in the Northern Rockies by declaring them wilderness and now is the time to pass it.”

The Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act:

Connects natural, biological corridors, ensuring the continued existence of native plants and animals and mitigating the effects of global warming;

Restores habitat that has been severely damaged from roads that were built, creating more than 2,300 jobs and leading to a more sustainable economic base in the region;

Keeps water available for ranchers and farmers downstream until it is most needed; and

Eliminates subsidized development in the designated wilderness areas, saving taxpayers $245 million over a 10-year period.

More information about the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act can be found at

The bill can be found at

Member groups of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies who support NREPA can be found at



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