WILDERNESS LAWS PASSED IN THE 108TH CONGRESS (2003 – 2004)
Below is a list of the Wilderness legislation passed by the 108th Congress and signed into law by the President. The 108th Congress approved two bills adding over 800,000 acres of public land to the National Wilderness Preservation System.
Lincoln County Conservation, Recreation, and Development Act (Nevada)
(Public Law 108-424)
This Lincoln County Conservation, Recreation and Development Act was sponsored in the House by Reps. Jim Gibbons (R-NV), Jon Porter (R-NV) and Shelly Berkley (D-NV) and in the Senate by Senators Harry Reid (D-NV) and John Ensign (R-NV). This omnibus public lands measure contained six separate titles. The titles deal with wilderness designation and release, land disposal, utility corridors, the designation of an off-highway vehicle trail, conveyances for county and state parks, and a transfer of jurisdiction of two 8,000-acre parcels of land to and from the Fish and Wildlife Service. The wilderness title designated 14 Wilderness areas totaling approximately 768,000 acres and releases approximately 245,000 acres from Wilderness Study Area status. There are several controversial public land issues in various titles of the bill. For example, the environmental community was united in opposition to provisions in the bill that grant rights of way for pipelines that could transport rural Nevada’s water to Las Vegas.
Gaylord Nelson Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Wilderness (Wisconsin)
(Public Law 108-447)
This measure grants permanent wilderness protection to 33,500 acres (or approximately 80 percent) of wild land found in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore on the waters of Lake Superior in Wisconsin. Known as the ancestral home of the Ojibwe people, the Apostle Islands include remarkable cliff formations, sea caves and some of the most pristine sandscapes remaining in the Great Lakes region. The "Gaylord A. Nelson National Wilderness" was signed into law as part of the year-end omnibus appropriations package in December 2004. Gaylord A. Nelson is a former U.S. Senator and governor from Wisconsin. He is well known as the founder of Earth Day.