House wilderness bill backers optimistic

Jan. 12, 2009 at 8:47 PM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Oregon lawmakers say they expect the progress of a major wilderness protection bill in the Senate to create momentum for the legislation's passage in the House.

The Senate voted 66-12 in a rare Sunday session to end procedural opposition to the bill and bring it up for a final vote in the Senate this week. If the bill is approved, as expected, it will then move on to the House where, The (Portland) Oregonian said Monday, it is also expected to pass.

"Three years ago, we passed the first Mount Hood wilderness bill in the House, and Oregonians have been waiting a long time for this moment," said Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., who noted the procedural roadblocks seen in the long-stalled Senate debate did not exist on the House side.

The omnibus bill is a package of measures that will protect around 2 million acres of wilderness in nine states, including 200,000 acres around Oregon's Mount Hood, the newspaper said.

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