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Obama Signs Multifaceted Legislation Covering Land, Water, and Paralysis

Little River Canyon National Preserve will benefit. Photo Courtesy of National Parks Traveler.

WASHINGTON, D.C.- President Barack Obama has signed the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009, incorporating 150 bills that cover legislative matters including: designating 2 million acres of new wilderness areas, authorizing the various Bureau of Reclamation water projects and water settlements, and creating The Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act.

Among the president’s remarks at the signing of the bill, he said, “This landmark bill will protect millions of acres of Federal land as wilderness, protect more than 1,000 miles of river through the National Wilderness and Scenic River System, and designate thousands of miles of trails for the National Trails System.

“This legislation also makes progress for which millions of Americans have long waited on another front. The Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act is the first piece of comprehensive legislation aimed at improving the lives of Americans living with paralysis.”

Among the features of the Paralysis Act are improvements in paralysis research, paralysis rehabilitation research and care, and improving quality of life for people with paralysis and other physical disabilities.

Provisions of the Paralysis Act will include the awarding of grants for multicenter networks of clinical sites that will collaborate to design clinical rehabilitation intervention protocols and measures of outcomes on forms of paralysis that result from central nervous system trauma, disorders, and/or stroke.

Beyond medical, the Omnibus legislation addresses other issues such as the aging infrastructure of public constructions. The secretary of the interior is directed, through the acting commissioner, to do among the following:

  • Develop specific inspection guidelines for project facilities constructed under federal reclamation law that are in proximity to urbanized areas, and that could pose a risk to public safety or property damage if they were to fail.
  • To conduct inspections of those facilities within three years after the Act’s enactment.
  • In selecting facilities to inspect, to take into account the potential magnitude of the public safety and economic damage posed by each such facility.

In addition, among the legislation’s water resources provisions, it authorizes the secretary of agriculture to enter into agreements with any university, nonprofit research institute, or organization with water or power delivery authority to fund research activities designed to conserve, increase efficiency of, or enhance management of water sources, including renewable energy in management and delivery of water.

Also among the water supply provisions are rights related to Native American projects, such as the Navajo-Gullup Water Supply Project and the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Reservation Water Rights Settlement.

The Navajo-Gullup agreement includes stipulations that water supply from the project be used for municipal, industrial, commercial, domestic, and stock watering purposes.

The Shoshone-Paiute project includes stipulations for: the acquisition of land and water rights, cultural preservation, restoring or improving fish or wildlife habitat, water resource planning and development, and the design and constructing of water supply and sewer systems for tribal communities.

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