Western Republicans are backing a bill that would set a 10-year deadline for Congress to act on wilderness designation proposals, a move that Democrats and enviros say could lead to the degradation of millions of acres of pristine federal land. Presently, the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management can treat areas as if they were wilderness by designating them “wilderness study areas,” but the new bill, proposed by Rep. Jim Hansen (R-Utah), would require Congress to decide within 10 years whether a study area will or won’t be officially designated as wilderness. If Congress didn’t act, an area would lose its protection. Critics say that if the bill were passed, wilderness opponents could repeatedly block wilderness proposals until the 10-year deadline ran out and then areas could be opened for logging, mining, and development.