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Mt. Hood Wilderness Bill Working Its Way Through Senate

Oregon could soon see a dramatic expansion of wilderness areas under a sweeping federal lands bill introduced Wednesday on Capitol Hill. Rob Manning reports.

Wilderness on Mount Hood could expand by more than 120,000 acres, and a handful of smaller areas could also be designated wilderness under a new Senate bill.

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden has been pushing the Mount Hood protection for years, with the help of former Republican senator, Gordon Smith.

But one senator - Tom Coburn of Oklahoma - has successfully blocked it and many other wilderness bills.

Coburn opposes the new lands bill, too, but Democrats believe they can drum up the 60 votes necessary to overcome him.

A spokeswoman for Oregon’s new senator, Jeff Merkley, says the bill could move remarkably fast through the Senate.

It’s scheduled for a procedural floor vote this weekend, and possibly a final vote next week.

The lands bill may prove an early test of the Democrats' ability to muster the 60 votes necessary to force through legislation.

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