Keeping it like it is
Wilderness bill passes House!
A proposal to permanently protect more than 53,000 acres of public lands in the mountain forests of Southwest Virginia passed the House of Represntatives Tuesday, October 23.
The Virginia Ridge and Valley Act of 2007 was introduced by Rep. Rick Boucher earlier this year. It would designate six new wilderness areas, a wilderness study area, and two new scenic areas, and expand six existing wilderness areas in the Jefferson National Forest.
The proposal will now be taken up in the Senate where a companion bill was introduced by Sen. John Warner, and is co-sponsored by Sen. Jim Webb.
SELC and other supporters have worked hard this summer to fend off attempts by a few lawmakers to weaken the bill as it made its way through the House committees on natural resources and agriculture.
The bill is the result of a collaborative effort by Rep. Boucher, Sen. Warner, their staff, and many local, regional and national environmental and recreational organizations.
Endorsers include the Virginia Tourism Corporation, the Garden Club of Virginia, the Virginia Council of Trout Unlimited, Scenic America, and many others. In addition, each of the proposed areas has been endorsed by either the U.S. Forest Service or the Board of Supervisors of the county in which the area would be located.
Originally introduced in 2004, the proposal has sustained support from most of Virginia's congressional delegation, local officials, and dozens of businesses, local groups and citizens in Southwest Virginia. SELC, the Virginia Wilderness Committee, the Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition and The Wilderness Society helped facilitate the effort.