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GOP-backed bill is most serious attack on America's Wilderness Act in history

The Wilderness Act has protected America’s wild lands for 50 years. It is now under threat by a House bill deceptively called The Sportsmen's Heritage Act. Citizens must demand the US Senate do nothing to advance its devastating provisions.

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The 1.1 million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota is the most-visited area in the National Wilderness Preservation System. Op-ed contributor Stewart Brandborg says a new House bill 'would effectively gut the Wilderness Act and protections for every wilderness in the United States’ 110-million-acre National Wilderness Preservation System.' He urges the Senate to 'protect our grand wilderness legacy for future generations.'

Kevin Proescholdt/Wilderness Watch

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Conservationists and wilderness enthusiasts across America are mobilizing to defeat a bill passed by the House of Representatives in April that would eviscerate the 1964 Wilderness Act.

Deceptively entitled the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act, the bill (H.R. 4089) purports to protect hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting. The bill is being pushed by powerful groups like the National Rifle Association and Safari Club International and supported by some of the most anti-wilderness Republicans in Congress. And it would effectively gut the Wilderness Act and protections for every wilderness in America's 110-million-acre National Wilderness Preservation System – everywhere from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota to the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness along the Montana-Idaho border that I can see from my home.

The House bill's provisions could still become law during the current lame-duck session of Congress. Though the Senate is considering a different sportsmen’s bill that does not include the harmful elements, the Senate bill could eventually be merged with the devastating House bill in order to pass both chambers.

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