President Obama signed the defense spending act into law on Friday, and with it, a bill that adds 245,000 acres of newly designated wilderness in Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Washington.

Included are:

— the Hermosa Creek Watershed, San Juan National Forest,  near Durango, CO, includes 38,000 acres of new wilderness and 70,000 acres of special management area where the roads will be left as is and motorcycles, snowmobiles and bicycles will be allowed. 

—  the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, WA, adds 22,100 acres to the existing wilderness and parts of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie and Pratt rivers have been designated as Wild and Scenic.

— the Columbine-Hondo Wilderness, Carson National Forest, NM, permanently protects 45,000 acres of new wilderness, but also adjusted a current wilderness boundary to allow access to mountain bikers to link popular single track trails, and get them onboard with supporting the new wilderness designation.

— the Wovoka Wilderness and Pine Forest Range Wilderness, NV, with 48,000 acres and 26,000 acres respectively. The Wovoka Wilderness is named in honor of the Native American spiritual leader who lived in the area.

— the Rocky Mountain Front, MT, adds 50,500 acres to the Bob Marshall Wilderness and 16,700 acres to the Scapegoat Wilderness. The legislation also sets aside 208,000 acres as Conservation Management Areas which limits road building but allows current motorized recreation and access for hunting, biking, grazing and logging.

This Congressional gift was the result of many compromises and sacrificed many wilderness study areas that are as deserving of protection, but we must celebrate the victory of preserving America’s wild lands however it’s achieved. This is a gift to our children and future generations — they will need wilderness as much as we do. Please take the time to thank your Congressmen and Senators so they will know that we appreciate their leadership in preserving our national heritage.