WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) released the following statement after the House voted to pass the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act which would provide permanent protections for millions of acres of public lands and waters to conserve these iconic landscapes, promote outdoor recreation, and protect communities from the impacts of the climate crisis.

“As communities across the country feel the consequences of climate change, this important legislation recognizes the need to make the expansion and protection of public lands a key component in our response to the climate crisis. This bill permanently protects public lands and waters by designating approximately 1.5 million acres of wilderness and incorporating more than 1,000 river miles into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. It also withdraws more than 1.2 million acres of public land from new oil and gas and mining claims.

“Under the leadership of Congressman Derek Kilmer, the Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act included in the package would permanently protect the last remaining acres of ancient and mature forests on the Olympic Peninsula. With the support of tribes, local communities and businesses, conservationists, and the outdoor recreation industry, this legislation will help nature-deprived communities access parks and public lands, protect areas sacred to Indigenous peoples, ensure clean and safe drinking water, preserve wildlife habitats, and promote the outdoor recreation economy.

“President Biden has proposed necessary climate goals, including protecting 30 percent of America’s lands and waters by 2030. These designations will get us closer to that goal and promote access to clean water, clean air, and healthy outdoor recreation opportunities while supporting local economies and historically underserved communities.”