February 13, 2020 — The U.S. House passed the Protecting America’s Wilderness Act on Wednesday, which would protect an additional 1.4 million acres in Washington, Colorado and California from logging, mining and new roads.
About 1,000 miles of river also would be added to the National Wild and Scenic River System.
It would be the largest such wilderness designation in more than a decade.
All the 131,000 acres in Washington added under the bill are on the west side of the state, with most in the Olympic Peninsula.
The bill passed by a 231-183 vote, with only six Republicans voting in favor.
Eighth District Rep. Dr. Kim Schrier, a Democrat, voted yes and Fourth District Republican Rep. Dan Newhouse voted no.
The fate of the bill in the Republican-controlled Senate is uncertain and President Trump has vowed a veto if it makes it to his desk.
Schrier successfully added an amendment to the bill requiring the federal Government Accountability Office to study how preserving wilderness lands can help reduce flooding in residential areas.
Schrier said protecting those lands is an important tool in fighting climate change.
She said excessive rain, flooding and landslides have hit several areas of her district in recent weeks. Climate scientists say such flooding events are likely to continue and grow in scope, she said.
“As we continue to confront climate change, we need to holistically consider our approaches to wilderness and public lands,” Schrier said in introducing her amendment Wednesday. “Preservation of our public lands is just one tool at our disposal to help mitigate the impacts of flooding.”