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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Sierra Club comments on natural resources title of the NDAA

"All told, the natural resources title of the NDAA designates approximately 245,000 acres of new wilderness. Considering  the 112th Congress was the first since 1966 not to protect one single acre, it's tempting to declare this package a significant victory. Unfortunately, the inclusion of egregious land exchanges and other harmful provisions far outweigh any conservation gains.
Among those harmful provisions is one that hands over federally protected land in the Tonto National Forest in Arizona - land that is sacred to local Native American tribes, to the Rio Tinto mining company to expand the Resolution Copper mine. This measure was brought to the House floor twice last year, but it was pulled both times because there weren't enough votes to approve it.  Using the NDAA as a vehicle for harmful, controversial legislation that privatizes our precious public lands is inexcusable.
In addition, this bill will transfer important areas of Alaska's Tongass National Forest to the Sealaska Corporation. In doing so, Congress will sacrifice dozens of the best undeveloped coves, bays, and recreational areas in favor of commercial logging. This piece of the lands package causes irrevocable damage to vital fish and wildlife habitats and jeopardizes the livelihoods of several small communities and other  users that depend on the forest.
Trading away our public lands to mining and timber companies for commercial gain is not conservation. As we look to a new Congress, the Sierra Club will continue to work to pass clean public lands bills that truly protect America's lands, waters and wildlife."

Marni Salmon
Sierra Club

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