Published March 30, 2009 09:38 PM

Obama Signs Wilderness Bill

Obama called the new law among the most important in decades "to protect, preserve and pass down our nation's most treasured landscapes to future generations."

Also in the legislation signed by Obama is a provision named for "Superman" actor Christopher Reeve that provides for paralysis research and care for persons with disabilities.

At a White House ceremony, Obama said the law guarantees that Americans "will not take our forests, rivers, oceans, national parks, monuments, and wilderness areas for granted, but rather we will set them aside and guard their sanctity for everyone to share. That's something all Americans can support."

The law _ a collection of nearly 170 separate measures _ represents one of the largest expansions of wilderness protection in a quarter-century. The measure confers the government's highest level of protection on land in nine states _ almost as much wilderness as designated during the past eight years combined.

Land protected by the 1,200-page law ranges from California's Sierra Nevada and Oregon's Mount Hood to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and parts of the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia.


Land in Idaho's Owyhee canyons; Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan; San Miguel County, N.M.; Zion National Park in Utah; and the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia also won wilderness protection.

In addition more than 1,000 miles of rivers in several states, including Vermont, Massachusetts, Wyoming, Arizona, Oregon, California, Utah, Virginia and Idaho, were designated wild and scenic. The law expands wilderness designation _ which blocks nearly all development _ into areas that previously were not protected.

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