Press Release | May 1, 2024

SELC applauds inclusion of public lands designations in Farm Bill framework

WASHINGTON D.C. — On Wednesday, leadership in the U.S. Senate released a framework for the 2024 Farm Bill. The bill’s Forestry Title includes measures that increase forest resilience in the face of climate change and would permanently protect more than 100,000 acres of public lands by creating new National Scenic Areas, National Recreation Areas, and Wilderness Areas.

“From a historic investment in the South’s public lands to climate smart forest policy, this framework has something for everyone to applaud, no matter how they enjoy our National Forests,” Anders Reynolds, Federal Legislative Director for the Southern Environmental Law Center, said. “Senator Stabenow and her staff have drafted a bipartisan bill that all our elected officials can get behind.”

Included in the draft are additions to Virginia’s Rough Mountain and Rich Hole Wilderness Areas and the creation of the Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area, which would protect more than 92,000 acres of the George Washington National Forest in Virginia. National Scenic Areas strike a balance between preservation and recreation, ensuring that hikers, cyclists, anglers, hunters, and other visitors can continue to enjoy this exceptional area while prohibiting logging and industrial development.

“The Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area proposal is the product of more than two decades of work and has broad public support from hundreds of local businesses, community organizations, and faith groups,” Southern Environmental Law Center Senior Attorney Kristin Davis said. “This designation would permanently protect one of the largest stretches of undeveloped land east of the Mississippi River and preserve the majestic forests, spectacular vistas, and rugged trails on the edge of the Shenandoah Valley.”

Forests provide a key climate solution by capturing and storing billions of tons of carbon. Protecting carbon-rich forests on public lands from logging, mining, and other destructive practices is a straightforward and cost-effective way to fight climate change. Other climate-smart provisions in the Senate’s Farm Bill framework include enhancing reforestation efforts and improving forest carbon data monitoring.

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Press Contacts

Eric Hilt

Senior Communications Manager (TN)

Phone: 615-921-9470
Email: [email protected]