White Mountain Forest Bills Fail; Vermont Delegation Leads Opposi tion

For Immediate Release:
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Contact: Stephanie DuBois (BRADLEY)

John Billings (BASS)

Washington , D.C.- Congressmen Charles F. Bass (NH-02) and Jeb Bradley (NH-01) last night brought legislation (H.R. 5059 and H.R. 5062, respectively) to the floor of the House of Representatives that would have added more than 34,000 acres of wilderness-designated lands within the White Mountain National Forest, along the Wild River and Sandwich Range. Both failed to garner the 2/3rds vote required for passage under "suspension of the rules," although they did gain the simple majority votes of 223 to 167 and 220 to 169, also respectively.

The New Hampshire Wilderness Act is a set of two bills introduced by Representatives Bass and Bradley. During floor debate, a handful of members from other states objected to their passage as a result of an unrelated dispute involving wilderness legislation proposed for the State of Vermont. Congressman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) organized the opposition in hopes that he could then insist that Vermont's bill, which fails to have the level of unanimity of support that New Hampshire's bills enjoy, be piggy backed onto the Granite State proposal.

"Members who voted against the White Mountain bill choose partisanship and obstruction over the hard work and leadership of the U.S. Forest Service, state and local leaders, and every significant conservation, environmental, sportsmen, timber, and tourism advocacy group in the New Hampshire," said Bass. "I appreciate that the members of the Vermont delegation want to pass their bill as expeditiously as possible, but holding our bill hostage and jeopardizing its passage in order to gain this leverage is outrageous and very regrettable. This action not only undermines many years of hark work in our state, but it also nearly eliminates any chance that Vermont's bill will see favorable action."

Bradley stated, "I am extremely disappointed that the Democrats are engaged in partisan posturing rather than environmental protection. This legislation has broad support from New Hampshire environmental groups, including the Appalachian Mountain Club, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, and the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association. The revised forest plan that was announced last November represented a reasonable compromise that balances conservation with the economic needs of the region. I have hiked the Wild River and Sandwich Range areas and know they are worthy of the wilderness designation. It is no surprise that the Democrats, led by Rep. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, want to prevent these wilderness designations in New Hampshire - which have broad support in the state -just because they can't get their way in Vermont."

Bass and Bradley both pledged to continue working toward passage of the New Hampshire Wilderness Acts.