Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Owyhee Wilderness on hold

House Republicans kill Ominibus Land-use bill

Washington--House Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives were successful in killing the Democrat sponsored Omnibus Land-Use bill that included provisions to establish a new wilderness area in southwestern Idaho the legislation failed to get the required 2/3 majority for passage.

The bill fell six votes short because Democrats brought the legislation up under rules requiring a two-thirds vote for passage. They didn't hit that mark, so Democrats will have to bring the bill back up under a normal procedure.

The bill sets million of acres of public wilderness and creates more than 1,000 miles of scenic river designations.

Representative Walt Minnick, D-Idaho voted for the bill and expressed frustration and diappointment when the legislation fell short in the House.

"As I just relayed to Senator Crapo, it has been a long process to get to this point and the process is not yet over," Minnick said. "Although I am disappointed, today’s action shows that there are more than enough votes for this bill to pass the House under normal rules. I urge House leadership to put this bill back on the floor as quickly as possible, and I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting, reflecting and representing the collaborative work represented in this bill."

The bill passed the Senate on Jan. 15. and insiders expected passage in the House. But all is not lost, House Democrats are expected to bring the bill back next week in a manner that would allow Republicans to tweak it.

"If passed," Minnick told the Congressional Record, "This bill will permanently protect as wilderness 517,000 beautiful acres in the southwestern corner of my home state’s landscape and would provide wild and scenic status to nearly 315 miles of rivers. It will also guarantee that the ranching families who have protected this land for generations will continue on, with their grazing rights protected."

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