An amendment to the Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act would add 5,600 acres within the George Washington National Forest in Bath County to two existing wilderness areas.
The legislation, championed by Second District Democrat Elaine Luria, targets the Rough Mountain Wilderness Area and the Rich Hole Wilderness Area.
This decision follows a 2014 recommendation from the U.S. Forest Service and would grant these areas the highest level of protection for public land under federal law.
“I am pleased the House passed this important amendment to Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act, which would preserve the George Washington National Forest for future generations to enjoy,” Luria said. “We all benefit from efforts that support recreational opportunities and land conservation, and I will continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to advance policies that restore and protect our public lands.”
Luria has been a staunch advocate for public lands throughout her tenure in Congress. In July of last year, she voted for the Great American Outdoors Act. This bipartisan bill, which later became law, established a National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund and permanently funded the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
This benefits projects such as Colonial Parkway, beloved places like Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, and historic battlefields in Yorktown. Recently, she signed a letter to Acting Secretary of the Interior de la Vega to revoke his predecessor’s actions, which undermined LWCF’s effectiveness.
H.R. 803 also was amended to include the Great Dismal Swamp National Heritage Study Act, of which Luria is a cosponsor. This legislation would direct the Department of Interior to conduct a study on whether the Great Dismal Swamp and the surrounding area possesses the historic and cultural resources necessary to become a National Heritage Area.
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