Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), the chairman of the subcommittee on public lands, said Republicans also “feel frustrated” that some bills the House has passed have been stalled in the Senate. Bishop pointed to two recently passed House bills that enhance public lands protections: one expands the California Coastal National Monument and another adds wilderness areas in Oregon’s Wild Rogue and Devil’s Staircase regions.
New wilderness areas, Bishop said, are also getting harder to find. “The easiest places to designate as wilderness have been done,” said Bishop, “so it takes a much more finessed effort to try to do something now than it would have.”
He said House Republicans want a more deliberate approach to land protections, making more areas available for various uses rather than imposing more strict wilderness designations. “The only difference is Doc Hastings is not making things so he can check a box, pat himself on the back and say, ‘Look, I created wilderness.’ He realizes that wilderness should have some rationale to it and some reason,” said Bishop. “You do it for a purpose, not just so you can say, ‘I did wilderness.'”