House Rejects Public Lands Bill

BAKERSFIELD, CA - S. 22, an omnibus public lands bill approved by the Senate January 15, 2009 was defeated today by a vote of 282-144. The House of Representatives was attempting to pass the measure under a suspension of the rules, this meant that no amendments would be allowed into the bill. This rules suspension required a two-thirds majority for it to pass.

ORBA recognizes the need for Wilderness in the appropriate areas and with the proper local input so that trails and areas of high recreation value are protected or excluded totally from this type of designation. It is not good public policy for congress to push a 1200 page piece of legislation through without giving people the proper time to digest or amend it, as they were attempting to do with this bill.

Congresswoman Mary Bono-Mack sponsored H.R. 3682, The California Desert and Mountain Heritage Act that would have designated Wilderness within Riverside County. ORBA supported that bill because her office worked closely with local stakeholders, including off-highway enthusiasts. However, once it was included in the S.22 Omnibus Lands Bill we could not support the larger bill as a whole. We do greatly appreciate the effort her office put forth to address our concerns with the bill and encourage other legislators to do the same in the future.