Obama signs bill to create wilderness areas

President Barack Obama has signed legislation that sets aside more than 2 million acres as protected wilderness, including two areas in Southern Oregon.

Obama said today the most valuable things in life are those already possessed as he signed a massive public lands management act at the White House.

The law protects land from California's Sierra Nevada mountains to the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia, as well as expands wilderness protection efforts.

In Oregon, it creates the 23,000-acre Soda Mountain Wilderness in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in the mountains just southeast of Ashland and the 13,700-acre Copper Salmon Wilderness in the upper Elk River watershed on the west side of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

Other Oregon wilderness areas contained in the bill include 128,000 acres on Mount Hood, nearly 31,000 acres in the badlands just east of Bend, and 8,600 acres overlooking the John Day Wild and Scenic River.

The law — a collection of nearly 170 separate measures — represents one of the largest expansions of wilderness protection in a quarter-century.

— The Associated Press

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