FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jack Savage, VP for Communications & Outreach
Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests
(603) 224-9945, ext. 330;
“NEW ENGLAND WILDERNESS ACT OF 2006” SIGNED INTO LAW
President Bush signs bill to permanently protect 34,500 acres of land in White Mountain National ForestWASHINGTON, DC, December 1, 2006— United States Senators John Sununu and Judd Gregg (R-NH) announced that President Bush has signed the “New England Wilderness Act of 2006” (S. 4001) into law. The measure, authored by Sununu and co-sponsored by Gregg, will permanently protect 34,500 acres of land in the White Mountain National Forest in the Sandwich Range and the Wild River areas by designating the acreage as “wilderness.”
The legislation, which also designated approximately 42,000 acres of Vermont land as “wilderness,” passed the United State House of Representatives on November 15, 2006 and the United State Senate on September 29, 2006.
In explaining the background of the New Hampshire portion of the “New England Wilderness Act of 2006,” Sununu and Gregg said, in November of 2005, the Forest Service recommended the designation of additional acreage as “wilderness” in its Management Plan for the White Mountain National Forest. The legislation incorporates the recommendations of this Management Plan by designating approximately 23,700 acres in the area of the Wild River as “wilderness” and adding approximately 10,800 acres to the existing Sandwich Range Wilderness. The land would remain as White Mountain National Forest land under the protection of the National Wilderness Preservation System. Wilderness areas consist of federal lands that are permanently closed to such activities as mining, logging, road construction, vehicular traffic, and building construction. By law, the establishment of new wilderness must be approved by Congress.
Sununu stated, “The ‘New England Wilderness Act of 2006’ -- one of the more significant bills I have worked on in Congress -- represents the best of New Hampshire’s history of land stewardship. The Forest Service Plan provides a consensus view of how best to protect land in the White Mountain National Forest while ensuring the Forest’s traditional mixed-use role.”
“Local and state officials, citizens groups and other concerned individuals have been working for a number of years toward the goal of designating more wilderness in the White Mountain National Forest. I commend their dedication toward permanently protecting land in the Sandwich Range and the Wild River area – work that will benefit New Hampshire residents and visitors for generations to come.”
Senator Gregg stated, “Today marks a wonderful occasion for our state and for all those who cherish the White Mountain National Forest. New Hampshire’s landscapes and natural resources are a big reason why our state is such a great place to live and raise a family, as well as such a big draw for visitors who love the outdoors. By designating more than 34,000 acres of the White Mountain National Forest as new wilderness, the ‘New England Wilderness Act of 2006’ will help further protect our state’s environment and represents a balanced approach on how we manage our natural resources. By signing this bill into law, President Bush has today made a strong statement about the importance of establishing new wilderness in our state, and I applaud him and all those who worked so hard on this effort.”
The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests is the state’s oldest and largest non-profit land conservation organization. In order to preserve the quality of life New Hampshire residents know today, the goal of the Forest Society, in partnership with other conservation organizations, private landowners, and government, is to conserve an additional one million acres of the state’s most significant natural lands for trails, parks, farms and forests by 2026.