Though the media were abuzz with President Obama’s announcements about auto industry bail-out conditions on Monday, environmentalists and outdoor enthusiasts were likely to be more interested in this headline:

“Obama Signs Wilderness Protection Bill”

Sunrise in Houston, Texas; Photo: Theodore Scott

The Omnibus Land Management Act of 2009–one of the most ambitious environmental protection bills passed in the past 25 years–will protect a total of 2 million acres in nine states: Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Virginia.

River runners across the United States were thrilled to learn that the 1,200 page bill extended to protect some of the nation’s waterways, too: more than 1,000 miles of rivers were designated as wild and scenic.

The designation of the land and waterways as wilderness areas means that commercial development is restricted, keeping the areas pristine for perpetuity.

Community Connection:

Thinking about heading out into the great wide American open? Check out Matador’s recent articles about Montana’s Big Sky country: 9 Montana Backpacking Trips That Will Blow Your Mind; Boating Big Sky: Montana’s Classic River Trips; and 4 More Reasons to Visit Montana Now.

Can’t travel anytime soon? Check out Matador member and regular contributor Ted Scott’s photos of wild places, both in the U.S. and abroad.