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Warner & Kaine Reintroduce Bill to Protect Wilderness in Bath County

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine reintroduced the Virginia Wilderness Additions Act, legislation that would add a total of 5,600 acres to the existing Rough Mountain and Rich Hole wilderness areas within the George Washington National Forest in Bath County, Virginia.

“It’s crucial that we preserve Virginia’s natural treasures, which are essential to the economy and way of life in communities across the Commonwealth,” the senators said. “We’re thankful for the input, advice, and good-faith work by local officials and conservationists who have come together over the years to create this plan to better preserve land within the George Washington National Forest. We look forward to continuing to work together to include this legislation in this year’s Farm Bill so we can get it across the finish line.”

A wilderness designation is the highest level of protection for public land under federal law. These additions were recommended by the U.S. Forest Service in 2014 and endorsed by members of the George Washington National Forest Stakeholder Collaborative, a group of forest users that started work together over a decade ago to agree on acceptable locations in the George Washington National Forest for wilderness, timber harvest, trails, and other uses.  

The Farm Bill is a multiyear government funding bill for programs pertaining to conservation, crops, and nutrition, among others. Congress is expected to pass a Farm Bill in 2023.

In each of the last three Congresses, the legislation has passed through one chamber, either the Senate or the House of Representatives, but has yet to pass through the both chambers during a single session. In January 2020, as part of the 116th Congress, the Senate passed Warner and Kaine’s bill, but the legislation was not taken up in the U.S. House of Representatives. In the 117th Congress, the House passed a version of this bill as part of broader package of environmental bills, but it was not taken up in the Senate.

Full text of the legislation is available here.