Back in the spring I was fortunate enough to participate in a “fly-in” event in support of the LWCF Coalition at our Nation’s capital. You can read the blog post I published about that experience here; LWCF Coalition Fly-In with Capital Region Chapter and AFI. During that event I met with Sen. Tim Kaine’s office to thank the Senator and his staff for his continued support of LWCF and ask that they help protect against future recissions. During that meeting the conversation came up about two bills the Senator has been working to get passed since the 116th Congress; the Virginia Wilderness Additions Act and the Shenandoah Mountain Act. As I dug into both these bills, I quickly realized just how important they both were.
The Virginia Wilderness Additions Act 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. Any time we are able to add lands to existing Wilderness areas it is a good thing especially when it has support from stakeholders. In this case the George Washington National Forest Stakeholder Collabor tive, which endorsed this proposal nearly a decade ago. Sen. Kaine is joined by fellow Virginia Sen. Mark Warner in advocating for this legislation and has wide support in both houses. However, it just has not been able to get across the finished line.
The second piece of legislation, the Shenandoah Mountain Act, is another Sen. Kaine and Sen. Warner bill. The legislation to establish a 92,562-acre Shenandoah Mountain National Scenic Area (SMNSA) in Rockingham, Augusta, and Highland counties. This is truly an impressive piece of legislation and I do not see how this would be a bad idea. A critical component of this bill is the fact it includes the headwaters of both the Shenandoah and James Rivers. Both of these rivers are not only hope to a multitude of idyllic species, but provide drinking water to many communities in the region. As the tourism industry continues to grow in the region protecting a landscape that includes 10 peaks over 4000 feet and 150 miles of trails, this would only add more much needed recreation dollars to the region. In fact, hundreds of businesses in the region have endorsed this legislation.
There is too much information to include in this short post about both these bills. I urge you to take a look at both of them in detail. Hopefully, you will see what I see, two bills that will greatly enhance our wild public lands and waters here in the Commonwealth of Virginia. I am sincerely grateful to both Sen. Kaine and Sen. Warner for their leadership in continuing to fight for important landscapes such as these. Now more than ever, our nation needs significant investment in our wild landscapes or we will lose them. Join the Capital Region Chapter and I in supporting these efforts and taking action to let congress know we support this legislation.