A coalition of 47 public lands, Wilderness and environmental organizations from across the country have issued a letter to all members of the U.S. Senate demanding the removal of damaging public land “riders” that have been added to the Defense Authorization Bill, which passed the U.S. House last week and now awaits action in the Lame Duck senate.
Title XXX (30) of the bill includes several controversial and harmful public land proposals, including an exchange of National Forest land to a foreign-owned mining company seeking to operate a mine on land sacred to the Apache, a giveaway of 70,000 acres on Alaska’s Tongass National Forest to Sealaska Corporation, notorious for its scorched-earth logging practices, and a stealth provision that removes protections from two Wilderness Study Areas in eastern Montana. The bill also contains numerous public land conveyances as well as Wilderness bills with special provisions allowing helicopter use and habitat manipulation.
The coalition of 47 organizations is calling on the Senate to remove Title XXX from the Defense Bill. Some proposals thrown into the mix would gain the groups’ strong support as stand-alone legislation, but the bill’s numerous “poison pills” mean that too high a price would be paid for a few conservation gains. The groups are submitting their letter to Senators ahead of its being brought to the Floor Tuesday.
UPDATE: This video produced by the San Carlos Apache Tribe, the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition and Concerned Citizens and Retired Miners Coalition gives more information about the SE Arizona Land Exchange, which will give 2,400 acres of the Tonto Nation Forest – ancestral homeland of the Apache Tribe – to a foreign mining company and allow them to put in a huge copper mine on these sacred lands.