Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act

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The Northern Rocky Mountains ecosystem in the United States is known by ecologists, biologists, and naturalists as one of the last areas of the contiguous United States that is relatively undeveloped enough and large enough to support a functioning ecosystem.[citation needed] The Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act is designed to protect this ecosystem and the many threatened and endangered species such as grizzly bears (threatened), bull trout (threatened), sockeye salmon (endangered only in Snake River Evolutionary Significant Unit, secure elsewhere), and Canadian lynx (threatened only in lower U.S. 48 states, secure elsewhere), while creating jobs that restore old roads and clear cuts. The Alliance for the Wild Rockies based in Helena, Montana has been campaigning for the legislation for two decades with the help of numerous Congresspersons, celebrities, and grassroots groups such as the Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society. The legislation has been introduced and discussed in Congress five times since 1993, most recently in November 2011 with 34 co-sponsors by December 2012.

Details of the legislation[edit]

The legislation would affect roadless areas in five states, including 9,500,000 acres (38,000 km2) in Idaho, 7 million in Montana, 5 million in Wyoming, 750,000 in eastern Oregon and 500,000 in eastern Washington. The total includes 3 million acres (12,000 km2) in Yellowstone, Glacier and Grand Teton national parks. The NREPA does not affect private land.[1]

The legislation will:

  • Designate more than 24 million acres (97,000 km2) of America's premier roadless lands as wilderness,
  • Connect natural, biological corridors, ensuring the continued existence of native plants and animals,
  • Keep water available for ranchers and farmers downstream until later in the season when it is most needed,
  • Allow for historic uses such as hunting, fishing and firewood gathering,
  • Create over 2,300 green jobs and a more sustainable economic base in the region,
  • Save taxpayers $245 million over a 10-year period through the elimination of federally subsidized lumber harvests, mining and oil/gas production, and grazing allotments on federally owned land.[2]

Congressional Action[edit]

Legislation on Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act

  • November 3, 2011 - H.R. 3334, Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA) [112th Congress]
  • February 11, 2009 - H.R. 980, Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA) [111th Congress]
  • April 24, 2007 - H.R. 1975, Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA) [110th Congress]
  • February 7, 1995 - H.R.852, Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act of 1995 [104th Congress]
  • July 14, 1993 - H.R.2638, Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act of 1993 [103rd Congress]

Carolyn B. Maloney, representative from the 14th district of New York most recently introduced the bill on November 3, 2011, and it had 34 cosponsors as of December 4, 2012.[3] Representative Maloney also introduced the legislation in February 2009, as of December 1, 2009 there were 103 co-sponsoring Congresspersons in the House of Representatives.[4] The singer Carole King, a resident of Custer County, Idaho, has testified before Congress in 1994, 2007 and 2009 in support of the act.

Opposition to the Legislation[edit]

Opponents to the NREPA state that there will be a loss of extraction jobs in the northern Rockies; mining, logging, and oil/gas production as a whole account for many of the jobs in the five affected states. Economics professor Tom Power, Ph.D. from the University of Montana has found that industries based on extracting resources from the land are more prone to "boom and bust" economic cycles, creating ghost towns, and unstable living conditions, while economies that are based around wilderness areas are more sustainable and have higher than average job growth rates.[5]

Similar Ecosystem Protection Projects[edit]

There are other wildland protection projects currently being endeavoured by citizens around the world. In North America there are four wildlife corridors that have been proposed by the Wildlands Network, each providing a highway, called a "wildway", for migrating creatures to mitigate the effects of climate change: the Pacific Wildway running from Baja to Alaska, Boreal Wildway running west-east from Alaska, through Canada, to the northeastern shores of North America, the Eastern Wildway running from Everglades in Florida to the Arctic, and the Western Wildway also called the "spine of the continent" runs from southern Mexico along the Rocky Mountains up into the Arctic.[6] The Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (also known as Y2Y) is a bi-national NGO that promotes the conservation of habitats and wildlife movement ability from the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem to the Arctic Circle.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Maloney, Carolyn B. "Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act". Issues and Legislation. Washington, D.C.: Official Website of the United States House of Representatives. Retrieved 16 February 2010. 
  2. ^ Maloney, Carolyn B. "Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act". Issues and Legislation. Washington, D.C.: Official Website of the United States House of Representatives. Retrieved 16 February 2010. 
  3. ^ "H.R.3334 -- Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act". Library of Congress. Retrieved December 4, 2012. 
  4. ^ Rep Maloney, Carolyn B., Carolyn B (Introduced to the House of Representatives 2/11/2009). "H.R.980 Title: To designate certain National Forest System lands and public lands under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of the Interior in the States of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming as wilderness, wild and scenic rivers, wildland recovery areas, and biological connecting corridors, and for other purposes.". United States: United States Government. Retrieved 18 February 2010.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  5. ^ Power, T.M. (February 2000). "Making a Case for Wilderness in the Community: It's Good Business" (PDF). The Economics of Wildland Preservation: excerpt from a report prepared for the PEW Wilderness Center. Helena, Montana: University of Montana. pp. 23–27. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 June 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2010. 
  6. ^ "Conservation Programs". The Wildlands Network. Archived from the original on February 17, 2010. Retrieved 18 February 2010. 
  7. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)

Further reading[edit]

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