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9/11/2008, Capital Press

Major California wilderness bills advance in Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) - Legislation that would designate more than 732,000 acres in California as federally protected wilderness has advanced through a key U.S. Senate committee.

Together the three bills that passed the Energy Committee would amount to the largest addition of wilderness in California in more than a decade.

The bipartisan bills would protect 465,000 acres of wilderness in the Eastern Sierra and northern San Gabriel Mountains; 190,000 acres in Riverside County; and 77,000 acres in the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park.

The bills still must pass the full Senate and the House before they could be signed into law. Prospects are uncertain as Congress will be in session for just a few more weeks before breaking for the elections.

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