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Warner & Kaine Applaud Forest Service Purchase of Key Property in Botetourt County, Va.

~ Grace Furnace property is one of the largest tracts to be acquired for conservation purposes in Virginia in decades ~ 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) today applauded the acquisition of a significant property by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service. The addition of this land to the Forest Service will help preserve a local historic asset, enhance Virginians’ access to recreation, and protect the water quality of Craig Creek, a tributary to the James River and the Chesapeake Bay. This move follows strong support by Sens. Warner and Kaine, who previously urged the Forest Service to consider the acquisition of this property.

“We are glad to have played a part in helping safeguard this valuable piece of land and make sure it’s protected for years to come,” said the Senators. “We look forward to seeing Virginians take advantage of the increased recreation opportunities presented by this acquisition, and we trust that the Forest Service will work towards the long-term success of the land and its many natural resources.”

The 4,664.5-acre land, located in Botetourt County within the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, boasts the historic Grace Furnace, a 19th century iron-ore furnace, as well as 14 freshwater springs, 10 miles of trout streams, and borders 1,000 feet of Craig Creek. The tract contains potential aquatic habitat for the federally listed endangered ‘James spiny-mussel’ and two State-listed threatened species – the ‘Atlantic pigtoe mussel’ and ‘Orange madtom fish.’

This land addition comes as a result of efforts by the Open Space Institute (OSI), which purchased Grace Furnace in December 2016 and conveyed it to the Forest Service earlier this month, and the Chesapeake Conservancy, which coordinated the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) proposal that helped fund the acquisition.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have been longtime supporters of preserving Virginia’s natural treasures. Earlier this year, both Senators supported the permanent reauthorization of the LWCF to help preserve and protect Virginia’s public lands. Additionally, Sen. Warner sponsored bipartisan legislation, cosponsored by Sen. Kaine, to address the $12 billion National Park Service (NPS) maintenance  backlog, which has delayed the upkeep of visitor centers, rest stops, trails, campgrounds and transportation infrastructure operated by NPS in the Commonwealth and across the country.