Washington,D.C.) - After working tirelessly on a compromise with the Vermont Congressional Delegation and Governor, U.S. Reps. Charles Bass and Jeb Bradley (R-NH) were successful today in shepherding legislation through the House of Representatives that will designate areas of New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) as "wilderness."
The legislation will create a new wilderness area of approximately 23,700 acres in size in the Wild River Valley in the Gorham area and will expand the existing wilderness area in the Sandwich Range by 10,800 acres. Both wilderness areas were proposed in the WMNF plan and required Congressional action in order to be established. The legislation will also protect over 46,000 acres of land in the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont.
In early September, the New Hampshire Wilderness Act was in jeopardy due to organized opposition from the Vermont delegation. As a result of Bass and Bradley's continued perseverance and willingness to compromise, both parties were able to work out a compromise that would protect Vermont and New Hampshire wilderness areas.
"Expanding the wilderness areas along the Wild River and Sandwich Range will permanently designate some of the forest's most sensitive and splendid landscapes," said Bass. "All the stakeholder and advocacy groups in New Hampshire deserve enormous credit, along with the White Mountain Forest Service staff, for working together to craft this recommended addition to the Granite State's crown jewel of the outdoors. Our state has again demonstrated that thoughtful collaboration and leadership is rewarded with results that really matter to all our citizens."
Bradley stated, "I have hiked the Wild River and Sandwich Range areas of the White Mountains and know that they are truly deserving of this wilderness designation. A wilderness designation adds additional protections to areas of the WMNF that are among the most beautiful and unique in the White Mountains. The passage of this important legislation will help to preserve the areas for future generations to be able to enjoy."
"We applaud Congressmen Bass and Bradley for their enthusiastic support of new Wilderness designations in the White Mountain National Forest, and are grateful for their leadership in championing this important legislation," said Susan Arnold, Director of Conservation for the Appalachian Mountain Club. "Protecting wilderness is one of the many valuable uses of our public lands, and the Congressmen's work on behalf of wilderness in the White Mountain National Forest is a legacy that will be appreciated by Granite State residents and visitors today, and for generations to come."
"This is terrific news for New Hampshire and for theWhite Mountain National Forest," said Jane Difley, President/Forester of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. "I'd like to commend Congressmen Bradley and Bass not just for the efforts on behalf of the White Mountain National Forest,but for their conscientious work for common-sense conservation throughout New Hampshire. Helping to push the Wilderness Act through Congress is only the latest accomplishment among many, and I have no doubt that they will continue to provide support and leadership for conservation and for the state in the future."
Bass and Bradley both commended Forest Supervisor Tom Wagner for his hard work in crafting a consensus plan that strikes the appropriate balance between protecting the environment and the economic needs of the region.