Rep. Maloney Introduces Legislation to Protect Pristine Northern Rockies Ecosystem

Mar 10, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) today introduced the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA), legislation that would designate approximately 23 million acres of wild lands in the continental northwest as wilderness. It would also designate approximately 1,800 miles of rivers and streams as Wild and Scenic Rivers. 

 

“As our country experiences increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters, as well as warming temperatures and rising sea levels, the climate crisis has never been more dire. NREPA is the kind of sweeping, systemic solution our nation needs to preserve pristine lands and benefit our environment,” said Congresswoman Maloney. “This legislation would bring us significantly closer to the 30 x 30 Resolution by protecting our nation’s wild lands, animals, and ecosystems. It will also help us meet the goals of the Paris Agreement by preserving large swaths of forest that help cancel out our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. And it will allow us to ensure that our children, and their children, can enjoy these irreplaceable wild places.” 

 

“I applaud Congresswoman Maloney for having the vision to become the lead sponsor of NREPA when the words ecosystem, biodiversity, and climate change were not yet in the vernacular.  In addition to protecting species and habitat in our national forests, NREPA will protect 23 million acres of free, existing carbon storage and save taxpayer dollars,” said singer and land conservation advocate Carole King

 

"We are in the middle of the world's sixth great extinction period. Conservation biologists have found that one of the few places we have a chance of stopping it is in western North America but only if we protect ecosystems.  Climate Change threatens native species as well as humans,” said Mike Garrity, Executive Director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies

 

Other original cosponsors of the bill include: Earl Blumenauer (OR-3), Diana DeGette (CO-1), Jamie Raskin (MD-8), Peter Welch (VT-At Large), Janice D. Schakowsky (IL-9), Salud O. Carbajal (CA-24), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-At-Large), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32), Emanuel Cleaver (MO-5), Gwen Moore (WI-4), Michael F.Q. San Nicolas (GU-At Large), Albio Sires (NJ-8), Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20), Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE-At Large), Ed Case (HI-1), Kathy Castor (FL-14), David Cicilline (RI-1), Yvette Clarke (NY-9), Steve Cohen (TN-9), Rosa L. DeLauro (CT-3), Theodore E. Deutch (FL-22), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18), Ruben Gallego (AZ-7), Raul M. Grijalva (AZ-3), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Ron Kind (WI-3), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Doris Matsui (CA-6), Jerry McNerney (CA-9), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Scott Peters (CA-52), Tim Ryan (OH-13), Brad Sherman (CA-30), Mike Thompson (CA-5), Nydia Velázquez (NY-7), and John A. Yarmuth (KY-3). 

 

Background 

The Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act would: 

  • designate all of the inventoried roadless areas in the Northern Rockies as wilderness, protecting approximately 23 million acres of land that is home to vital ecosystems and watersheds in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, and Wyoming; 
  • establish a system to connect biological corridors, preserving the migration patterns and habitats of native plants and animals and allowing ecosystems to flourish; 
  • preserve huge swaths of forest biomes that will act as carbon sinks that counteract greenhouse gas emissions; 
  • keep water available for ranchers and farmers downstream until later in the season when it is most needed; and 
  • prohibit construction, use of motorized vehicles, and use of mechanized tools on wilderness lands. 

 

The Northern Rockies are headwaters to three of our country's major waterways that provide water to tens of millions of Americans -- the Columbia, Colorado, and Missouri Rivers. In addition to protecting these precious watersheds, NREPA would preserve the natural biological corridors that are critical for a vast array of fish and wildlife while connecting some of the last remaining intact ecosystems in the contiguous 48 states. 

 

A wilderness designation is the highest level of protection the federal government can bestow on public lands, while a wild and scenic river designation is the highest level of protection the federal government can bestow on free-flowing streams and rivers. 

 

The 30x30 Resolution is a pledge to conserve at least 30 percent of the land and ocean of the United States by 2030. President Biden issued an Executive Order committing to meet the goals of the 30x30 Resolution on January 27, 2021.  

 

The United States rejoined the Paris Agreement on January 20, 2021 after having left it in 2017. The goal of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement is to keep the global temperature from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius, preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius, above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century. To achieve this long-term temperature goal, countries must aim to cap greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and achieve “a climate neutral” world by mid-century. 

 

  

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