Columbia Gorge wilderness plans put on hold

Columbia Gorge wilderness plans put on hold

massive lands bill that would have created new wilderness areas in five Western states is likely dead for the year, a victim of a filibuster threat, supporters said Friday. The bipartisan bill would expand wilderness along Oregon's Mount Hood and create a vast new wilderness in Idaho's Owyhee canyons. The bill also would create wilderness areas in California, Colorado and New Mexico. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Nevada Democrat strongly supports the lands package, but his first priorities in a lame-duck session next week are a planned rescue for the auto industry and extension of unemployment insurance benefits. Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn has threatened to filibuster the lands bill over what he calls its excessive spending — nearly $4 billion over five years — and the removal of millions of acres of federal property from oil and gas development. "The outlook for this legislation does not look real good," said Bill Wicker, a spokesman for Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. "The two big problems right now are the clock and the economy." Local News | Plan for Columbia Gorge wilderness looks dead | Seattle Times Newspaper.
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