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Obama signs sweeping public land reform legislation

  • Story Highlights
  • Obama signs bill designating 2 million additional acres of public wilderness areas
  • Designation provides highest level of government protection from commercial use
  • Law, pooling more than 160 legislative proposals, extends across nine states
  • Highlights: New heritage sites and water projects, expanded park boundaries
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Conservationists claimed one of their most significant victories of the new administration Monday as President Obama signed sweeping land reform legislation designating 2 million additional acres of public wilderness areas.

Lawmakers applaud as President Obama signs 2009 Omnibus Public Land Management Act

The federal wilderness designation provides the highest level of government protection from logging and other forms of commercial use and development.

"This legislation guarantees that we will not take our forests, rivers, oceans ... monuments, and wilderness areas for granted, but rather we will set them aside and guard their sanctity for everyone to share," Obama said at a White House signing ceremony.

"That's something all Americans can support."

The land protected by the 2009 Omnibus Public Land Management Act, a compilation of over 160 separate legislative proposals, extends across nine states.

Among other things, the law also establishes 10 new National Heritage sites, authorizes numerous Bureau of Reclamation water projects, and alters several national park boundaries. It specifically creates 21 new wilderness areas and expands 19 existing wilderness areas in 10 national forests.

One of the largest swaths of newly protected wilderness is in California, where over 380,000 additional acres are set aside by the law.

The covered areas incorporate the eastern Sierra Nevada, Los Angeles County's San Gabriel Mountains, and the desert areas of Riverside County.

In the Pacific Northwest, more than 136,000 acres have been designated to protect areas surrounding Mount Hood and the Copper Salmon headwaters, according to the Department of Agriculture.

All About U.S. Department of AgricultureU.S. Department of the Interior

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