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Congress comes together, finally, for Michigan wilderness bill

PUBLIC LANDS — The House of Representatives voted Tuesday to pass the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Conservation and Recreation Act, sending the measure to President Barack Obama to be signed into law.

The bill, which passed in the Senate in June, will protect more than 32,500 acres in Michigan, including pristine shoreline and forests on the coast of Lake Michigan.

It will be the first new wilderness designated during the 113th Congress. 

Meanwhile the wilderness debate is going on across the country.  Here are examples from publications in Montana and Utah:

USFS chief discusses divide on wilderness debate
As part of the “Room to Roam” Wilderness Issues Lecture Series hosted by the Wilderness Institute at the University of Montana in Missoula, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell talked about the need for untrammeled wild areas, provided his agency's perspective on current wilderness proposals before Congress and the agency's ability to respond to change.
— Missoulian;

Quote of the day:
“It's hard for me to say the 'w' word, but I believe the state can do a better job and there are areas that need to be protected. They are special areas for people.”

Rep. Mike Noel, the chair of the Utah House Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee, about the Utah Wilderness Act the panel approved on Tuesday.
- Salt Lake Tribune

Annual Washington coastal cleanup 30 tons of fun

PUBLIC LANDS – The annual volunteer cleanup of the Washington Coast, set for Saturday (April 20) is a remarkable success story.

Gov. Jay Inslee has proclaimed it Washington Coast Cleanup Day to help match last year's effort when more than 1,300 volunteers removed 30 tons of marine debris from Washington’s Pacific Ocean beaches.

Founding organizations for the annual Earth Day weekend cleanup include Washington State Parks and the Washington Clean Coast Alliance. The CoastSavers program of the Alliance organizes a major coastal cleanup each year around the time of Earth Day.

Last year, more than 1,300 volunteers removed 30 tons of marine debris from Washington’s Pacific Ocean beaches.

Looking for a beach party this weekend? Sign up on the CoastSavers web site.

Or just show up and sign in at state or national park ocean beach area.

Illia Dunes reopened after partiers’ trash cleaned up

PUBLIC LANDS — The Illia Dunes recreation area was reopened today as student volunteers from Washington State University helped the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers clean up trash left by more than 3,000 partiers at the popular Snake River site last weekend.

The sandy beach downstream from Lower Granite Dam is one of the more popular Corps of Engineers Snake River recreation areas and a college party hot spot.

The area was closed on Aug. 27 because of glass and trash that raised health and safety concerns, said Bruce Henrickson, spokesman for the corps Walla Walla District. 

“After announcing closure of the dunes, the corps received many offers of volunteer cleanup assistance from nearby university fraternities and sororities, plus individuals,” he said. The corps chose to work with 64 student volunteers organized by Washington State University’s Center for Civic Engagement. Corps officials expressed appreciation for all offers of volunteer help.
 
The corps staff plans to monitor Illia Dunes and the “pack it in, pack it out” policy for individuals to remove their own trash. The other main concerns are keeping glass and open fires off the beach and whether visitors use alcohol responsibly and use the restrooms rather than the beach and the bushes.
 
“Visitors will be helping determine future recreational usage of the area, which is also a wildlife habitat management area,” Henrickson said.
 
Corps officials have discussed the possibility of banning alcohol after an unexpected crowd of more than 3,000 people swarmed the recreation area on Aug. 25 and 26. The corps received no request for a large gathering, Henrickson said.
 
Many broken bottles and beer cans were left in the water, garbage was strewn about the beach and parking lots, and litter was discarded along the roadway, he said.
 
More than 3,000 pounds of trash was removed from the shore, the water and along the road by corps staff and contractors, he said. The WSU volunteers topped off the cleanup by collecting another dumpster load of trash.

Cops: Mass. man shaved nude on beach

SALISBURY, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts man is facing lewd charges after lifeguards say he refuses to stop shaving himself while nude on a beach.

The Eagle Tribune reports that Christopher Axford was arrested Monday on a beach in Salisbury.

According to a police report, the 45-year-old was shaving his armpits while his shorts were pulled down to his shins when police arrived to the scene.

Axford, who police said is homeless, was charged with lewd, wanton and lascivious conduct, public drinking and disorderly conduct and release on personal recognizance. Less than 12 hours after his release, Axford was arrested again on charges he stole a tip jar from a pizzeria.

He is being held without bail pending a pretrial hearing scheduled for Aug. 31. It was unclear if he had an attorney.