Bill to protect Virginia wilderness passes Senate

If the bill is signed into law, nearly 6,000 acres of wilderness within the George Washington National Forest will receive the highest level of protection under federal law. (© Brent McGuirt)

We’re celebrating the U.S. Senate’s passage of the Virginia Wilderness Additions Act earlier this week, which will add a total of 5,600 acres to two existing wilderness areas within the George Washington National Forest in Bath County, Virginia: the Rough Mountain Wilderness area and the Rich Hole Wilderness area.

“Thanks to the leadership of U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, 5,600 acres in one of Virginia’s most special wild places are close to receiving the highest level of protection available to federal public lands,” says Senior Attorney Kristin Davis. “Reaching this exciting milestone has taken many years of hard work, advocacy, and collaboration by a diverse group of forest users and the U.S. Forest Service. We applaud everyone who has worked together to help get here today."

The bill, carried by Senators Kaine and Warner, still needs to be signed into law after approval by the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Senators said in a statement that they will continue working together to see it through.

“We’re proud that the Senate passed our bill to protect wilderness in Bath County,” the Senators added. “The George Washington National Forest is a critical part of Virginia’s environment and economy. This legislation would help ensure Virginians can enjoy more of its wildlife, scenery, and trails for generations to come.”

The additions to the wilderness area were recommended by the U.S. Forest Service in 2014 and endorsed by members of the George Washington National Forest Stakeholder Collaborative, in which SELC has been a longtime participant.

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