Rep. John Doolittle Introduces Bill Calling for Release of 15-Year Old Wilderness Study Areas, by Tom Randall

BACKGROUND: Congressman John T. Doolittle introduced The Wilderness Study Area Release Act, H.R. 4589 to prevent the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management from continuing to close of millions of acres of public land through improper use of Study Areas. Today these agencies avoid release of WSAs for multiple use (recreation, logging, grazing, etc.) simply by refusing to either conduct the necessary studies or report to Congress on whether they recommend such lands be made into permanent Wilderness Areas.

TEN SECOND RESPONSE: As Congressman Doolittle said, “These agencies must not be allowed to deny the American people access to public lands simply by ignoring Congress.”

THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: Over 665 Wilderness Study Area Designations, covering nearly 23 million acres in 18 states are now over 15 years old. In that time, the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management have not attempted to bring to the Congress a recommendation as to whether or not any of these should named as permanent Wilderness Areas. The American people should not be deprived of the use of their land simply because these agencies cannot or will not do their jobs.

DISCUSSION: In addition to releasing all 15-year old Wilderness Study Areas from that designation, areas so-named in the future will lose that designation after five years. Lands released from Wilderness Study Area designations, under Doolittle’s bill would return to multiple-use status as defined by the 1960 Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act. H.R. 4589 can be found at


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