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Omnibus Lands Bill Heads to President's Desk!

Posted: 03/25/2009
By: Kevin Colburn

The US House of Representatives just passed the massive Omnibus Public Lands Bill which has already passed the Senate.  The bill will now go to the Whitehouse for President Obama to sign into law.  The Bill will protect hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands, and directly protect many world class whitewater rivers.  This is great news for the places we paddle!


The Omnibus bill will designate new Wilderness Areas in West Virginia, Virginia, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Colorado. It would protect Wyoming’s Snake River headwaters, and the Bruneau, Jarbidge, and Owyhee rivers as a Wild and Scenic rivers.  It will expand the protected area around the Little River Canyon.  It will also protect many of BLM’s wildest places by formally creating the National Landscape Conservation System which includes 38 spectacular Wild and Scenic Rivers like the Rogue, Merced, Rio Grande, Deschutes, and others.

We would like to highlight a few of the epic river conservation opportunities that the Omnibus bill will secure:

West Virginia Wilderness Rivers

West Virginia is well known for both its world class whitewater and for some of the worst environmental impacts this side of China.  As paddlers know though, there are remnants of unspoiled West Virginia, and the Wild Monongahela Wilderness Act will protect some of these special places.  The Act will protect The Cranberry River Gorge, Williams River, Anthony Creek, Dry Fork of the Cheat, and Red Creek. 

Owyhee Canyonlands

Out in the deserts of Southeastern Idaho are some of the best multi-day canyon rivers on the continent.  The Bruneau, Jarbidge, Owyhee, and their tribs offer a lifetime of exploration on foot and by boat.  This spectacular and remote area of huge basalt slot canyons, sage brush, and golden eagles is finally getting the attention it deserves.  The Owyhee Public Land Management Act would designate 517,000 acres as Wilderness and over 316 miles of rivers as Wild and Scenic.     

Snake River Headwaters

Jackson Hole Wyoming is famous for its skyline.  While the Tetons certainly deserve the reputation, the rivers and streams that run through the area are equally impressive.  The Snake Rivers Headwaters Act would designate many of the Snake’s headwaters in and around Jackson Hole as Wild and Scenic.  Several of these rivers and streams like the Hoback, Gros Ventre, and Upper Snake offer great whitewater runs with spectacular scenery and wildlife viewing opportunities.   

Mt. Hood Wilderness

Mt. Hood rises above the Columbia Gorge forming the backdrop to the kayaking mecca of Hood River. Paddling opportunities abound on the rivers that flow from the slopes of Mt. Hood and the Mt. Hood Wilderness Act will protect these rivers in their free-flowing condition by making additions to the Wild and Scenic Rivers system that include the East Fork Hood, Collawash, Zig Zag, South Fork Clackamas, and others.

The BLM Conservation System


The National Landscape Conservation System, established by the BLM in 2000, encompasses 26 million acres of the best lands and waters in the west. The system includes classic multiday whitewater trips on rivers like the Rogue, Klamath, Owyhee, Crooked, Grande Ronde, Merced, Trinity, Tuolumne, Rio Grande, Fortymile and others. Congressional recognition of this system of lands and rivers is important for their long-term protection and management.


We would like to thank all the organizations and individuals that contributed to this effort!

Associated Projects

Conservation System

The National Landscape Conservation System represents the crown jewels of BLM lands and rivers.

Mt. Hood Wilderness (OR)

In 2009 new Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers were established for the forests of Mt. Hood.

Snake Headwaters (WY)

American Whitewater joined a coalition of partners to designate the Snake Headwaters as Wild and Scenic.

Join AW and support river stewardship nationwide!